Well it really has been quite a summer of sport so far. We’ve had a wonderful world cup, a fantastic Open with our favourite McIlroy getting his iron grip on the Claret Jug and an interesting few days in the Commonwealth games. On that note, how ruthless are the Brownlee brothers, they toyed with young Marc Austin for four laps of the cycling before blitzing it on the 5th. In many ways Austin is quite like Arsenal of the last 4 or 5 years. He admirably kept up with the bigger contenders for the majority of the race before falling tragically short at the end.
But, in the words of Bob Dylan, the times they are a changing. I don’t think I’ve been this pleased with Arsene Wenger’s summer work in the last 10 years of transfer windows as I am with this one. Whilst we may have bought or invested in more players or more exciting players in the past, although in my opinion it doesn’t get much more exciting that Sanchez, he’s like a mixture of Peter Jackson and Quinton Tarantino rolled into a footballer, bundles of technique with quite a bit of attitude. This year we have kept our squad intact with the exception of Sagna, who I initially feared would be difficult to replace but it seems we have brought in someone almost identical to him at a reasonable fee with PL experience.
As an Arsenal fan, you simply can’t underestimate the importance of keeping your team together. For too long we’ve had the foundation of our team ripped out from underneath us; every year in which it seems like we are beginning to grow and learn from our mistakes, our leaders and most valuable players are lured away by big bucks, trophies and bacon sarnies. And yet there seems to be something different about this team, there is no doubt that we’ve had unified teams in the past but it seems to me that we have a squad that are generally delighted to play with each other. There is a strong British contingent, which we’ve strengthened again with the signing of Chambers. There is a tight nit French trio and most wonderfully, a German triumvirate that makes my heart bounce. The characters in the team are some of the most likeable I’ve ever had the pleasure of supporting, especially Big Mert and ‘AHA’ Lukas Podolski who seems to be the joker in the pack, in more ways than one.
But moving past the player additions and the tight nit group, there are two other changes that have made me sit up and take notice of this Arsenal squad. Firstly, after signalling that detective work would commence into the injuries that have plagued our squad, Wenger has asked the Germany fitness coach to come onboard. I don’t feel the need to delve into Shad Forsysthe’s CV as I believe the results speak volumes. Son of the great Bruce Forsythe, Shad has helped transform the German National team into World Champions. He painstakingly created routines that allowed the Germany team to play at the top level without fatigue inhibiting their game. The fact that he turned down Bayern and Manchester United speaks volumes, suggesting that Wenger must really have pushed the boat out to ensure he got his man. If Arsenal can replicate Germany’s fitness in their pressing, overall movement on the pitch and general well-being, we will be seemingly untouchable.
And finally, and most importantly in my eyes, it seems Monsieur Wenger has awoken from his slumber and is ready to take the bull by the horns again. In recent years, Wenger has not looked like the man who once led us to an unbeaten season; he has looked tired, nay exhausted. But after an enjoyable time in Rio, he looks fighting fit and eager to compete. The way in which he has conducted himself this summer, his outspokenness about overseas friendlies, his clinical transfer business and his general demeanour hint at a man who is rejuvenated and ready to contest. For too long Wenger has had to compete on an uneven playing field; now with ammunition of a healthy transfer budget concealed in his caterpillar coat, he looks like a man who believes he can lift the title. And you know what, I do too!
Til next time,
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