Knocking on a wee bit I may be, but there is something about the start of this season that has me regressing, and in a good way. When was the last time the buzz was this strong? I cannot honestly say but it is most certainly what some would label ‘a while’.
A World Cup summer means there hasn’t been much of a break for the best players, or indeed the best clubs. Yet in that time Arsenal have done some excellent business and although we are probably in need of another couple of additions to strengthen our title claims further there is a look of quality and depth in the squad. If you haven’t already you can hear more of my thoughts on this week’s excellent Arsecast, which also features the always chatty and excellent Philippe Auclair.
That Laurent Koscielny is expected to be fit has eased the only nagging doubt about the starting eleven for the visit of Crystal Palace. With Per Mertesacker and his World Cup winning colleagues ruled out it is important that the Kos is able to line up alongside Calum Chambers in the heart of the defence.
Trickiest selection headache for Arsene is in midfield. Even without Mesut Ozil there is some real quality fighting for essentially three places. I would imagine if all are fit then Arsene will go with the Community Shield winning trio of Mikel Arteta holding, Aaron Ramsey from box to box, and Jack Wilshire at the pointed end.
Rambo aside, I am most looking forward to see a likely starting attacking trio of Alexis Sanchez, Olivier Giroud, and Santi Cazorla. There is a potentially amazing blend of pace, trickery, and strength in that combination. Of course Alexis has to get used to his new team mates but there were signs at Wembley last week that we have a really hardworking talent who will support Mathieu Debuchy as well as pose defenders serious problems when we are going forward.
What sort of state Palace arrive in is anyones guess. The eleventh hour departure of Tony Pulis could work both ways. Most of the preparation will have been done by Thursday night, and it may dawn on the visitors that they are now auditioning for a new gaffer. Similarly they may feel rudderless. Think what you will of Pulis, and I will never forget him for his behaviour post Rambo’s broken leg and subsequently, he performed something of a miracle keeping Palace up last season. As Liverpool discovered, hilariously to many, the South Londoners were no pushover come the end of the season.
The first ‘holic pound of the new season (I don’t count Rambo to score last week. It was inevitable) is punted on a positive outcome, not surprisingly to you I’m sure. Our recent history on opening day isn’t good, I know, but I am going for a complete reversal of that trend. To get any value at all I’m on 5-0 to the Gunners at 28/1. That’s more than double the ludicrously short odds on winning 4 or less to nil.
To those who are going it looks as though the forecast is for a warm and sunny August Saturday afternoon. Perfect for lazing in the pub garden with a half pint or two of something refreshing beforehand. I’ll see some of you there. The first day of any seaon always starts with a great sense of expectation. It doesn’t always end so but there is something in the air, a better atmosphere it seems. Let’s get of to a flier and maintain that positivity.
A reminder for Fantasy League enthusiasts The Goonerholic FPL has now been set up for the coming season, so please feel free to join us for a bit of fun at http://fantasy.premierleague.com. The code for joining the league is 1429286-330554.
Have a good one ‘holics.