It’s quiet…too quiet
That’s what they say in the movies just before something dramatic happens. And while we’re in the midst of a big week for the early stages of a season, there’s very little afoot. Celtic visit tomorrow and then it’s off to Old Trafford for the first of two consecutive games against teams from Manchester. Unfortunately, there’s a huge, horrible hole between those games known as the international break.
Considering the importance of the games this week, it’s really rather quiet. There’s little transfer news, little team news and the one piece of injury news we’re waiting for has yet to surface. There are a variety of interchangeable parts at Arsenal, but Cesc Fabregas is not one of them. We may not need him to survive the home leg of our Champions League playoff thanks to our two away goals, but we certainly want him on the pitch when we visit United. We’ll have something to prove to them and the rest of the league that day and it’d be a shame to be without our captain and talisman.
It’s really amazing how international breaks always come at the worst possible times. The first one this season is truly obnoxious. The players will leave for their respective national teams following the United game, and return broken and tired just in time for the Citeh game. It makes the game at Old Trafford even more important because it would be dreadful to go into the break on a sour note after such a positive start to the campaign.
The most important thing happening to Arsenal at the moment appears to be taking place on Merseyside. Liverpool are in a bit of disarray, much to my delight. They’ve already lost as many games this season as they did last season after their miserable 3-1 defeat by Aston Villa. The fact that the game was played at Anfield, where Liverpool didn’t lose once last season is even more meaningful. Villa weren’t great, but Liverpool were dreadful. Considering that Liverpool have played just three games, the fact that they’ve looked woeful in two of them is encouraging. Benitez is a chump and his feud with the owners only serves to destabilise the club as a whole. If rumors are true, then Liverpool don’t have the funds to bring in any big players this summer, so it’s an early crisis for the Reds.
Arsenal were the chic preseason pick for the team most likely to fall out of the top four. But with Liverpool struggling, and no reinforcements on the way, perhaps the pressure will start to build for them. That team is a Gerrard or Torres injury away from being average at best. I won’t going into any further hypothesising this early in the season, and this is an Arsenal blog after all, but the Liverpool’s struggles can only mean good things for the Gunners.
All the quotes coming from Arsenal at the moment are relatively predictable and benign. Wenger has encouraged the team to push on against Celtic and guard against complacency. Seems reasonable enough. Song has credited the new formation with contributing to the team’s fast start, while Arshavin has said that he isn’t worrying about the weight of expectations after what some are calling a slow start. Arshavin’s performance and the new formation probably go hand in hand. I think the forwards, more than any other position, have the most adapting to do in the 4-3-3. Ultimately, I’m sure that they’ll be banging in the goals just like the rest of the team, but I don’t think it’s fair to say that Arshavin has started slowly. Although he hasn’t been mesmerizing, Andrey has helped create goals, delivered key passes and free kicks, and gotten into dangerous positions. Soon enough he’ll be finishing his opportunities the way we saw last season.
The Celtic game is tomorrow so I’ll leave the preview for the next post, but it’s a fixture that we can’t afford to overlook. While it’s hard to see the Hoops overturning a 2-0 away result, an early Celtic goal would make for a tense night at the Emirates. We should know the extent of Cesc’s hamstring injury by tomorrow, but it’s doubtful that he’ll be risked for the Celtic game. Even without him, there’s enough talent at Wenger’s disposal to progress into the group stage provided that the team remains focused. We saw some brief moments of complacency against Pompey that were reminiscent of our struggles last season. We can’t afford to see that again this week.
Finally, Sylvinho has joined Citeh to bolster their defense. Someone should tell them that they can sign all the former Arsenal players they want but it won’t bring them our support. They’re stuck with the fans they have. As for Sylvinho, I have a hard time begrudging anyone their right to take a wad of Citeh’s cash. But you have to admire Patrick Viera admitting that he could never join Sp*rs because of his years of service for Arsenal. He’s a class act that Paddy.
That’s just about all there is to share at the moment. We are being linked with Blaise Matuidi again, but it seems to me that Wenger has everyone flummoxed over his transfer plans and this is just another shot in the dark by the media. It’s become impossible to guess what he’ll do, but I still have a funny feeling about Chamakh. Don’t be surprised if there’s a signing or two waiting to be made after we overcome Celtic and secure our Champions League money.
Fingers crossed for Cesc’s hamstring.