PL Countdown: New Arsenal, new season, new hope?

PL Countdown: New Arsenal, new season, new hope?

In many respects, you could argue this to be a new Arsenal side. New manager, five new additions to what was already a changing team (if you consider the additions of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexander Lacazette and Henrik Mkhitaryan and the tactical shifts in the final period of the Wenger Era), and apparent “radical” changes in the training methods.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has to come through this season

In the last decade of Wengerball, every new season was greeted with some measure of optimism that, in hindsight, existed in a different solar system from the club’s reality. Arsenal has not been a league title-winning side for a long time and a powerful demonstrating metric of this during the last decade was in the 2015-16 season. Yes. Leicester City Football Club, with all due respect to the incredible feat they managed.

This season though, the realities of the club’s current place in English and European football are likely to guide the fans’ expectations with a bit more sobriety. We finished sixth, nearly 40 points behind the league champions, shipping in 12 more goals than Burnley FC did. We are now a Europa League club that will have to deal with hightailing it at late nights on Thursday from places with mostly consonants in their names to make it in time for a winter game at Wolverhampton.

But there is reason to be hopeful, even if it is with a larger measure of caution than before. For starters, the business in the transfer window this Summer has been done rather quietly and, it would seem, effectively. The players who have come in aren’t necessarily earth shakers in the game, but they aren’t mid-table grade either. Numbers have been bolstered in areas where it was clear that some help was needed – goal, defence, defensive midfield. One of the additions even played a respectable part for his country at the recently concluded World Cup in Russia. But Lucas Torreira isn’t the player to watch, in my view.

I am very much looking forward to Mesut Ozil’s performance this season. He had an interesting 2017-18 story. His lack of “game face” disposition has always given room to criticism from blood-and-guts fans and pundits who, frustrated with other parts of Arsenal’s poor performances, somehow found it convenient to single out the German for attack.

The lad was not helped at all by Germany’s World Cup performance to forget, and things certainly were not bettered by the fallout from his decision to take pictures with President Erdogan of Turkey.

His decision to retire from the German national team has been made out of anger. The type of anger that has a hint of revenge in it. I have seen this type of anger before at the Arsenal, in different guises – anyone remember how pre-Emirates Stadium Thierry Henry used to respond to criticism of his performances? I sensed the makings of that type of anger in the long prose Ozil put out, even though it was likely written by his lawyers. “I will show you people something”.

Ozil has nothing but club football to worry about now, he knows this is the final part of his career, and his feelings have been badly hurt. I do not think he will sulk his way through it. He has Aubameyang and/or Lacazette to aim at, and will likely be pleased to not worry too much about what’s happening in the middle of the hole behind him with Torreira and Xhaka.

Or maybe it is that outer solar system optimism creeping in again.

I expect a top four finish this season; shading fourth. Anything above this would be cause for wild celebration. Anything below this wouldn’t be worse than our current reality.

By Dr Ekpen Omonbude. Dr Omonbude is a season ticket holder at the Emirates stadium. He is an Oil Industry Economist and Author


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    Reply AniekanAkpan August 9, 2018 at 2:53 pm

    I’m super excited about the upcoming season. Its full of so many unknowns underpinned by the fact that I know we cannot do any worse than last season.

    Will we go 4-4-2 and unleash Aubemyang and Lacazette? Judging by pre-season, it looks like we’ll be alternating between formations in most games. Keeping other managers guessing……

    Can we get two 20 goal strikers this season?

    Will Torreira provide the defensive nous we’ve so desperately lacked in the middle of the pack?

    Will Ozil unleash the anger of a disappointing world cup and summer on the pitch?

    It’s so exciting guys!!!! Pull out your tent pegs, strap on your seat belts cos something is about to happen !!!!

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    Reply abidex August 9, 2018 at 2:47 pm

    More maneuvering than articulated lorry there like un recent times Arsenal fans going the usual putting enough praises to be optimistic but with a few hidden exceptions left in case it doesn’t happen.
    Outside the city team I think the Arsenal are as mobile as any of the other top teams and you see flashes of during a normal game flow. I expect them to do alot better than last season under the new manager

    But if the curse on wenger remains I will be glad to Arsenal in Europa next season. ?

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    Reply Sola Aiyepeku August 9, 2018 at 1:58 pm

    The atmosphere at Arsenal should indeed be cautiously optimistic. Until competitive games start and a gew games played, it would be unfair and difficult to gauge the effectof all the changes whilst Kroenke’s can only be assessed on a longer term basis though the backing Emery has received is a good indicator of Kroenke’s reasoning.
    I doubt he would want fans/the club turning against him.
    Arsenal have the tools to succeed but that’s not all that matters, when the games start the main test of character will commence.

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    Reply Rotimi Dada August 9, 2018 at 12:54 pm

    Nice article, Dr Omonbude

    We can only look to the future with optimism for truly glory days to return to the Arsenal

    What has been left unsaid is the impact of the Kroenke takeover. Will he manage his investments in a way that outcomes don’t spill over to the pitch? And importantly for us fans, will he be open handed and spend as and when required?

    Ooh to be a gooner!

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    Reply Demola Olu August 8, 2018 at 4:01 pm

    For the first time in years, I’m “tempted” to watch a live Arsenal match come this weekend. While one isn’t expecting magic, I like the clear statement of intent the new made with his signings. We may not get to where we want this season but I’m sure we won’t be where we were last season and surely won’t be any worse.

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    Reply Igbo Amadi-Obi August 8, 2018 at 3:47 pm

    It is indeed a new team in many respects – players, coach and philosophy, backroom staff, structure. That is enough reason for Arsenal fans to be optimistic. You can bet that things would be different this season, for the better, hopefully.

    I also agree that the same reasons that make us optimistic should also make us cautious in our expectations.

    So I am looking to get back to CL, and because we have a much fuller squad, I also expect us to win something. But more importantly, I expect a change in style and in attitude. I expect more fight from everyone. More belief in away games. Less errors at the back. And more goals from 2 of the best strikers in the League. COYG!

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