Pre-season / Shirts / Lick of paint

Good afternoon to you all from a scorching, dry and frankly unbearably hot London. And I’m a Dutchman. (And I want a transfer).

Suffice to say I have been content this week to look at slideshows of Arsenal players returning to training and at pictures of our new, purple strip – purple I ask you! George Graham would never have agreed to it. As weeks go, it’s been a lot more sedate than the last one, in which van Persie scorched the earth and Red & White took the opportunity to ‘capitalise’ with some opportunistic PR. And as shirts go, it’s a lot more sedate than the one that forms the background of this blog (and of my Twitter handle). That shirt came not long after acid house and the second summer of love. Coincidence? I think not.

As the players trot about in purple Wojciech will be wearing pink, but given we’ve all seen him in a tutu, I think he can handle that. George Graham would never have agreed to it, though.

Anyway, the above paragraph or so is what is known as ‘puff’. The main reason for a post today is to air the new theme. It’s been probably three years – certainly two – since I last got the emulsion out and it’s long overdue. I’m not adding zillions of carousels and other visual stimuli for the simple reason that I’m not posting that frequently, but this is a bit different – a touch breezier is the technical term – so let me know what you think. It’s got a few widgets down the right and it’s meant to be ‘responsive’- which means it ought to fit all manner of devices seamlessly. We shall see if that pans out.

Pre-season’s here, and thank the stars for that. Now there’ll be some actual football to think about, starting today in the Memorial Cup in Southampton. Obviously, all the other stuff will rattle along, no doubt as welcome as a skittish bluebottle, but we can’t do a lot about that. Football is what it’s all about. Let there be goals.

And to celebrate that, here’s a montage of some shirts (trying out Diptic – it’s been a day for tech).

RIP Danny / Returnees / Shirt & crest

Goodbye Danny Fiszman

The sad, but not unexpected news that Danny Fiszman has died, aged 66, comes just days after he sold his shares, and with them control of Arsenal, to Stan Kroenke.

Like Kroenke, he was not the kind of man who courted publicity, preferring to operate in the background. But by all accounts he was the driving force behind the stadium move, and in light of the ongoing travails of other London clubs trying to engineer moves to new, bigger homes, it remains a hugely impressive achievement.

He’d been involved at board level for twenty years, and was one of a now decreasing breed of major shareholders who bought into the club they loved. He was Arsenal to the bone.

RIP, Danny.

Returnees?

This particular donkey always likes a story with three carrots in – and this one (replicated elsewhere) fits that bill. Having bumbled through without Vermaelen all season, Szczesny for six weeks and Djourou for five, we are presented with the almost impossible scenario of all three returning.

Szczesny and Djourou could even make it for Sunday, we are told. Meanwhile Vermaelen makes ‘impressive progress’ and is pain-free. That’s as maybe – but even if he leapt out of bed tomorrow, bursting at the seams to thunder through 90 minutes, he’d be as rusty as an old nail. Still, that won’t stop me setting up a Google News Vermaelen section (in fact here it is – tuck in) that I can monitor pointlessly until the middle of May.

The sharing of goalkeeping duties this season has been extraordinary – Lehmann has made one start, Almunia 13, Szczesny 17 and Fabianski 20, but that relative equality of appearances means nothing. Szczesny is without doubt Arsenal’s number one and we need him back. Lehmann’s return has been a glorious sideshow but the sooner The Woj waltzes back, the better.

White shirt, new crest?

Rumours of sightings of new shirts used to be one of the staple diets for close season blogging, yet here we are already with two. They are of course, just sightings, but the thought of another white away shirt fills me with triple doses of ‘meh’.

[rant begins]

Two points:

1. I think I know why Nike and the club liked white last time. It outsells yellow by about a dillion to one. White, I suspect, is simply more wearable than yellow outside a football environment. But it’s not an Arsenal shirt. It looks like a pair of pyjamas. Please make it not so.

2. We had two new shirts last season. Surely we can’t have another two this season? Sparkly new set of laurel leaves round the crest or not.

And as an additional point, is nine years too long for me to be still mourning our old crest? Latin motto, gothic script, Islington coat of arms. It’s absolutely glorious.

How many other clubs have completely discarded their lovely old crests for fisher price replacements? The current one presumably has its fans but as you can tell, I’m not one of them. It does nothing for me. The last one was causing them all manner of copyright headaches but it’s so, so much nicer. I know I should change the record, but about once every three years I need to let steam off about it. I’ll move on now. Sorry.

[rant ends].

Arsenal Ladies / WSL

Against a background of the professional male team winning nothing for a while, the Arsenal Ladies team stands out like a beacon, trouncing all in their path. They’ve just been announced as founder members of the WSL – Women’s Super League – and have gone semi-professional.

The first ever match was last night, which they won 1-0 against Chelsea. Really exciting times for the women’s game.

Some background on the new league here.

And finally – one last reminder for the road that my competition to win signed Paul Merson autobiographies ends tonight just before midnight BST. Fan of the Merse? Then get in.