1-1 was the score when Aston Villa first came to the Emirates on the day which was the inauguration of the new stadium. Now, seven years later, Aston Villa return for another season opener.
I don’t think that I’ve ever been so excited for the league to get back and running again. Watching preseason games is nothing compared to the intensity of the Premier League, so really tomorrow is Arsenal’s first game since the 1-1 (inside joke) game at Newcastle. The Summer has been a disappointment though.
With Gazidis publicly stating how ambitious the club was planning on being in the transfer market this Summer, it is quite disappointing to only see one new arrival. However, Wenger has done one thing right in getting rid of all the deadwood in the current squad. The only problem is that now we don’t have any players! Seriously though, getting rid of Gervinho, Santos, Chamakh, and so on has been a sign of intent from Wenger. These are players that he signed not too long ago and for him to just let them go is quite pleasing. Sometimes I feel we were stronger with 10 men then we were with Gervinho.
Aside from transfers, Arsenal has had a pretty good Summer. The team has done very well in preseason despite those lackluster performances in the Emirates Cup. Playing against City last week was a good sign to show how close we
were to being ready for the start of the season and we excelled to many heights. Sagna has looked the part, Giroud has impressed, and most of all, Aaron Ramsey has shown remarkable improvements. His best position is centre midfield Arsene, not anything else.
I’m expecting a very similar lineup to that against City last weekend. I expect that Giroud will start and so will Wilshere, as Arteta is out for 6-8 weeks now. The squad is very thin at the moment, and there couldn’t be a better time for the injuries to start kicking in. Wenger is known for his transfers to replace injured players, so don’t be surprised if a defensive midfielder comes in. Unfortunately, it won’t be Luiz Gustavo, as he officially joined Wolfsburg today.
Wenger Pre-Match Discussion + Mertesacker The “Captain”
Wenger on fans frustration:
“I understand every frustration, you have so many frustrated people, but what is important is the quality of what you do on the pitch, so let’s not create a crisis from nothing,” he said.
“We just played a good game last week [against Manchester City] so let’s transfer that to the next game and not start to convince everybody that the quality of the team that starts on Saturday will be linked with the number of players we buy between today and tomorrow.
“The quality of the team will be linked with the performance of every player who plays [against Aston Villa].”
Wenger on spending power:
“I don’t disagree that we are a bit light at the moment,” he said. “There are 18 days to go until the end of the transfer market and we are of course looking to strengthen our squad.
“I don’t want to come out on any specific name because that would not be right. Usually in the press, you are well informed.
“Ideally you would want it to be quicker, but to finalise any transfer you need the agreement of three parties. You can see from our main rivals that it is not easy.
“At us, Chelsea, Manchester United, it is difficult to find the quality players to strengthen the team and the squad who are available at the moment but there are a shortage of top, top, top players who are available.
“It’s not a question of spending the money, it’s a question of finding the right players. As I told you, you are well informed, you certainly heard that we are not scared to spend money. But we want the right players.”
Mertesacker on captaincy:
“It is very unusual that the captain and vice captain are out for the first game of the season but for me it is a big honour and a big surprise,” he told Arsenal Player.
“I am not used to it but during pre-season I captained the team for a few games so it is nothing new. It is very special for me to be captain for the first Premier League game.
“My English is improving so I can contribute a bit more [in terms of being vocal at the back]! Communication is important and hopefully my contribution will increase further.”
So let’s get the season started in the same way that we ended it last season, unbeaten. A win tomorrow will ensure confidence in the players for the weeks to come and a lose will put pressure on Arsenal to act in the transfer market. Either way, tomorrow is important in the outcome for the season, even if it seems so far away.