A rather blustery morning to you all.
After three old-school Saturday 3pm league kick-offs, we’re back at the whim of the televisual gods with a 1.30pm Sunday start. Our game will doubtless be the lesser written about and hyped of the two Sunday games, but that’s fine with me. If we can keep chipping away at the fixtures we need to chisel off the slate, that suits me fine.
In one of those coincidences the fixture pooter specialises in, we’ve got Blackburn Rovers, precisely the same team that Wenger first pitted himself against 13 years ago. I’d settle for a similar scoreline – 2-0 – though I’m not sure Ian Wright’s legs are up to it anymore so the personnel might be different.
Though, if I recall, we had already played and beaten Sheffield Wednesday, with a raw Frenchman by the name of Patrick Vieira catching the eye. Wenger had already made his mark without actually being there. He probably watched the game somehow – in the days pre-streaming, he would have watched it on, erm, telex. Or morse.
Personally, the return of Walcott is the thing that I’m excited about most. He has his detractors (injury prone, drifts in and out of games etc), but I’m not one of them. His pace adds so much to our game, it’s a massive outlet, and I just can’t wait to see him back.
His strength of purpose should give him and edge too. With other players performing strongly, his England place for the World Cup is not a done deal and he knows it only too well. So we should see a Walcott strong on desire, both to make up for two missed months for Arsenal and with one eye on making Capello smile.
So how are we faring so far? I always slightly grimace when papers start printing the league table after one or two games, when frankly, no pattern has emerged at all. But now we’ve played six games, and seeing how it’s not remotely sunny where I am, it seems as reasonable time as any to dust off some pointless stats. So here’s our start compared to seasons gone by. It’s not very scientific, but take from it what you will:
2009-10 P6 W4 D0 L2 Points 12
2008-09 P6 W4 D0 L2 Points 12
2007-08 P6 W5 D1 L0 Points 16
2006-07 P6 W3 D2 L1 Points 11
2005-06 P6 W3 D1 L2 Points 10
In essence, it’s hard to complain. Clearly, we made a more promising start in 2007-8, when we rampaged through the league before collapsing like a pack of cards after Eduardo’s leg break.
And while the stats for this season and last – the latter, while while hardly desperate (4th place and two semi-finals), was a season that riddled gooners with anxiety – are identical, as ever reading between the lines paints a different story.
Last season, after six games we’d already capitulated to Fulham and Hull, playing poorly in both games, while this season we’ve come out of both defeats with at least some credit.
Between now and the north London derby on Hallowe’en, we’ve got three winnable league games, and should we prevail in all of those, we’d be on 21 points from 27 – a healthy return. (Incidentally, this is how that would compare to previous seasons – 19 points from 9 last season, 25 points in 2007-08, 18 points in 2006-07).
Of course, we’ve got to win those three games first, starting tomorrow. As ever, the winning bit is good and the losing bit is bad, so a bit more of the former and a bit less of the latter and we’ll be in with a shout.
Football is nice and simple when you put it like that.