Everton 1-6 Arsenal
Here I am again, eight days since I last fired up the blog. I’ve been away, breathing in deep gulps of bracing coastal air, and though I had access to a laptop and a broadband connection, I let the blogging go fallow. So no season preview – seems a bit late now anyway.
However, I did say on Twitter a couple of days ago that I was “strangely confident” about this season ahead. I accept that part of this optimism could be put down to the kind of giddy irrationality prevalent ahead of new seasons. But on top of that, I do think that, a year older and wiser, some of the players who struggled at times last season could be 10%-20% better this time round. Although we had some teeth-gnashingly dull 0-0 draws and lost in the Champions League semi-final (heavily) and FA Cup semi-final (depressingly), we have only lost once in the league since November 22nd.
A team gelling and growing together is hard to gauge – and though a 6-1 destruction is no exact measure of how we will do over the next nine months, it’s undeniably a statement of intent.
I’m not denying that we’d still benefit from a few new faces in key areas, but try telling Song and Denilson yesterday that they need someone in ahead of them – both were excellent.
The fact we came away having scored six, despite having Walcott, Diaby, Rosicky and Nasri on the sidelines, is a massive fillip. You could not ask for a bigger shot in the arm than a 6-1 drubbing of a very decent team on the first day of the season.
One thing I had been worried about was a poor start to this season, and what it might do to some fans’ relationship with the team. There was a lot of negativity at Arsenal last season – more than I’ve ever seen before – and though some of it was merited, I really hoped for a clean slate this season. You sense that some people, when they don’t see half a dozen new faces, plunge into a sea of gloom far too readily.
After yesterday, the team and the fans will be flying, and rightly so. We were excellent – all six goals were fantastic. Denilson’s opener was a rasper, Fabregas’s second a gem, but my pick was Vermaelen’s debut goal. I love a well-placed header, me, and that one was a mouth-watering looper. I really do like a header. Terrific things.
So what better way to warm up for the (warning: cliche coming) Battle of Britain? I’m looking forward to it already, a bit too much in fact.
In fact, the return leg will be my first game of the season as I’m foregoing the Arsenal on Saturday to go to the Oval to see the Ashes. I know I might get a bit of stick for admitting that – but some of you will understand the dilemma… I hope…
So anyway – I am planning to resume normal blogging service henceforth. Sadly (though not for you, probably), these days that doesn’t mean a daily update. Small children are too draining for that. But it’ll be more frequent than once every eight days…
Right, onto Tuesday. Football is back. Ah, joy.