Time to raise that curtain

Let the excitement begin! For a few hours this afternoon we can go top of the league, and should we manage that, with only 37 league games remaining only the biggest bah-humbug would write our title chances off.

Ah, the joys and ludicrous expectancy of the opening day of the season. Are we in good shape? We’re a bit patched up and there have been acres of newsprint written about our search for a new midfielder, but missing midfielder notwithstanding, we’ve replaced the outgoing Alex Hleb with Samir Nasri so, from a first XI perspective, we are on a par to last season. Even better prepared, I would argue, given the extra experience of the younger members of our squad like Walcott, Clichy, Bendtner, et al.

Where the jury is out is over our strength in depth. We’ve lost four very experienced players and either not replaced them or not replaced them with experience; despite his relative footballing experience, let’s not forget that Samir Nasri was born several months after Charlie Nicholas’s Wembley double won George Graham his first piece of silver. He’s a young lad, the same age as Fabregas. Ramsey is even younger – it’s not fair to be placing huge expectancy on his shoulders.

At least today, we see the return of Toure and Nasri, and that can only help. Nasri, we all hope, will get the goals that Alex Hleb was pathologically incapable of scoring, though again, he needs a bit of slack to find his Premier League feet.

Talking of our midfield quest, the strange goings-on at Anfield regarding the Barry transfer reveal that Arsenal did have talks about securing Xabi Alonso. Benitez yesterday, when talking about the summer-long Barry quest, said “I was not involved in the talks about Barry, I was not involved in the talks about Xabi Alonso and Arsenal.” So why those talks came to naught – if indeed they did – who knows. It’s something that could still be on Wenger’s radar.

Excited? Naturellement. I love the start of the season, and nothing would be better than three points to kick things off. I’m setting off in about an hour and I’m almost stupidly looking forward to it.

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