August 28, 2015

Calm Before The Storm

By Michael Clements

A trip to Newcastle this weekend followed by a two week international break, it feels a little like a letdown after the quick start to the season. It is, however just the calm before what looks to be quite in intense storm for Arsenal Football Club.

First comes the close of the Summer transfer window. Due to the Bank Holiday in the UK, this window closes at an odd time (6pm in the UK) on Tuesday, September 1st. While some Arsenal fans have conceded that our business in the market is over, Arsene Wenger added fresh fuel to the fire this week by saying he was on call 24/7 for any transfer movement. There's a couple of ways you can look at the Frenchman's somewhat traditional late activity in the transfer market;
There's the pressure from the fans and media that becomes overwhelming, resulting in some movement that was perhaps not in the script previously. Most likely, however, it's the other clubs throughout Europe that become a little more loose with their willingness to work out a deal. Wenger also suggested this week that the market becomes a little more active in the final days of the window. 
Either way I'm fairly confident we'll see someone come into the squad before Tuesday night - whether it's the coveted Defensive Midfielder we're looking for, or the World class striker we hope can lift us to new heights, who knows? Knowing Arsene, we'll sign a 16 year old right back...

Once the International break has come to an end begins the real storm. At first glance, our schedule looks quite manageable - no playing the big teams one after the other, and it looks as if the FA are a touch more forgiving with fixtures after Champions League matches. However, September may well pose one of our toughest runs of the season, so early on. 
12th - Stoke (H)
16th - Dinamo Zagreb (A)
19th - Chelsea (A)
23rd - Sp*rs (A)
26th - Leicester (A)
29th - Olympiakos (H)

It's exhausting just looking at it. It's not so much the four away games in a row, and so close together, it's where those away games are to be played. Thankfully we start at home with Stoke, as a trip to Middle Earth would have been a rough start to the month. However, it's the 1,000 miles to Croatia that gets me a little nervous - directly before a trip to Chelsea. 

With easily the two biggest games of the month out of the way, next comes a trip to the less-classy end of North London and a trip down Seven Sisters Rd. It's tricky to gauge how much of a challenge Sp*rs will be this season, but once they begin their stadium rebuild it's safe to say we'll see a significant drop off in their competitiveness. It was hard enough for Arsenal, a club that operates far more efficiently, to sustain ourselves during our stadium project. I just can't foresee Sp*rs pulling off the same financial miracle.

The month os September ends with a trip to Leicester and a visit from Olympiakos. The daunting thing about this schedule is the fact that there's a match every 3 or 4 days. An early test of that squad depth we've been talking about for the past couple of seasons, and yet another reason to boost our shout for an additional DM. 

Finally, a quick mention of the ever-present debate on video technology in football. After Ramsey's perfectly legitimate goal against Liverpool rules out for offside, the annual debate has come back to life as to whether (and when) video technology will be brought into football. Steve Kessel and myself discussed this at length a few months back (have a read here), and it really is a tough subject to hash out. There are so many variables in which human error ends and the video reviews begin. I would love to say that I'm a football purist, someone who thinks the human error aspect of the game belongs there and adds to the culture of the sport. However, there is so much invested in football at the highest level these days that it's inevitable that we'll see attempts at perfection in the near future. 

It's a shame, because there's somethings devilishly pleasurable about scoring a winner against Sp*rs that is blatantly offside. It's like adding insult to injury. But of course, it's not fair when it happens to us. Bloody Linesmen Assistant Referees.

Here's to preserving our stellar record against Steve Mclaren this weekend. 

Up The Arsenal!