This feels absurd â€“ my first game of the season and weâ€™re a month in. Damn you fixture list and blast you international week. Still, here we are and Iâ€™m ludicrously excited. So excited Iâ€™ve dusted off the blog! Thatâ€™s a sign that something giddy is afoot, if ever Iâ€™ve seen one.
Iâ€™ve even got a new home shirt, given to me by my boys for my birthday a while back, my first new Arsenal shirt since the yellow one we wore in Paris. I only every used to buy one on the eve of something big or a proper cup final, which *weeps* explains the *sobs* seven years without a *wails* new shirt. But I have one now and maybe thatâ€™s a good sign? I think I might be clutching at straws.
I want to see New Abou (but donâ€™t want him crocked, so donâ€™t want to see him in equal measures), Iâ€™m obviously keen to see the new signings, I want to see the shape of the team and Iâ€™m keen to whiff the aroma of Steve Bould, if you will. Having him back in the thick of the first team is a tenuous link right back to my first-ever Arsenal game, in December 1985, when Martin Keown was in the first XI. Thatâ€™s 27 years in the shadow of the best back four we will ever see.
Wengerâ€™s Arsenal Mark IV or V?
â€œif he is not completely happy with it then he has to go somewhere else”.
And so speaks Arsene with his new-found shoulder-shrugging and steel, talking in this instance about Sagna.
If players donâ€™t believe in what weâ€™re doing here, or donâ€™t want to be here, then they can leave â€“ thatâ€™s a risky strategy, isnâ€™t it? However problematic, maybe it is the only way. A team grows together, ultimately falls short, grows disillusioned together then gets dismantled. This could well be what Wenger spotted a while back, and what we have seen over the last year is what heâ€™s been doing about it since. Weâ€™re way past the dismantling stage in this now â€“ in fact, weâ€™re towards the end of mantling. It could be the main reason why Song left too: not money, not attitude, but just a feeling that the old squad needed renewing (Iâ€™m just throwing this out there â€“ money was probably a factor too). Walcott maybe too, who knows. It feels like heâ€™s in the doghouse a bit, anyway.
All those remaining (and properly in the managerâ€™s thinking) are either new â€“ this or last season new â€“ or young and in need of proving themselves, or experienced but with something to prove (or-reprove). Whether you or I believe that Wenger has the wherewithal to turn this side into winners is very much open to debate, but the players he has need to think that, absolutely they do. Itâ€™s hard enough fighting against the roubles and dinars of this world without a side fully on-board.
What you end up with, hopefully, is a squad that is flushed out and raring to succeed â€“ and one that is 100% behind their manager. Essentially, what weâ€™re looking at is Wengerâ€™s Arsenal Mark IV or V. I probably need to think about this more but Mark I was the team with the new and old bolted together, which lasted maybe until the back four retired in about 2002. The next side, the Invincibles, was dismantled depressingly fast. The one after was the Fabregas one, which came close in 2008, and now we have another new squad altogether. (I mean, the timings here and the definitions of how many â€˜teamsâ€™ Wenger put together and took apart is not straightforward but there can be no denying that the squad we have today is a new version, thatâ€™s very clear).
Incidentally, I donâ€™t have the feeling Sagna will be sold off, nor that he wants to leave, but he does need to be on-board 100%. His contract situation is also delicate, a bit, in that he is injury-prone and 29, and he now has a player â€“ Carl Jenkinson â€“ who is only going to get better, coming up in the rear-view mirror.
Right, the kids have gone feral, I need tea, the dayâ€™s begun. Come on you rip-roarers.