So here we are at the dawn of a new season. Am I excited? Yes and no. I’m excited to see how Leicester do, how Man Utd, Man City and Chelsea fare under new managers and how Liverpool continue to develop under Klopp. Can Tottenham push on and challenge for the title again? I think they have a strong chance.
There are some big managers in charge of big clubs, and although it will take them time to adapt, it should make for a rollercoaster season full of excitement and banter. Let’s hope the undoubted quality of those managers can bring about a much higher standard of football in the Premier League.
Although Leicester made last season exciting for exceptional reasons, the quality of football on show throughout the league was dire. Football is supposed to entertain us on the pitch, but in England the quality is often so bad that we compensate by forcing ourselves to be entertained by the media circus that surrounds it
Ironically, the only team I’m not interested in is Arsenal. I won’t even be watching the opening game of the season, as I would prefer to spend time with my family.
As regular readers know, my support of Arsenal has been suspended for quite some time. I am not willing to waste my free time on a club that perpetually underachieves while the owners and manager pursue a culture of ‘ethical fraud’ - rewarding themselves huge bonuses, pay rises and dividends while manipulating and exploiting the supporters’ patience and neglecting their considerable financial investment.
This summer has been no different to previous disappointments. Arsenal have failed to strengthen in key areas and the tone of conversation coming from the club is utterly underwhelming. I don’t think Arsenal have any chance whatsoever of challenging for anything other than a domestic cup, assuming they get a series of lucky draws.
However, the one thing that is different is that Wenger has only one year remaining on his contract and plies his trade under an atmosphere of suspicion, derision and boredom. Even if they don’t always express it, supporters have never been more against his tenure and few would be disappointed if he left.
My advice to fans that are sick of him is to continue from last season and get on Wenger’s back straight from the off. Don’t wait for the usual February/March collapse; start protesting at the first opportunity and keep it running throughout the entire season.
I’m pretty sure that the board have a deal on the table waiting for Wenger’s signature, but I’m also sure he will not want to continue working under the same dark atmosphere that emanated from the terraces last season. For an egomaniac like Wenger, it’s uncomfortable, undermining and affects the players’ perception of him.
To me, the squad looks unbalanced and does not have the mental faculties to push for a major trophy. The defence is untrustworthy at the top level and the attack is equally blunt. There may be more signings to correct this, but signings are not the entire solution. Ultimately, the players lack trust and belief in the manager and are too stifled by his amateur tactics.
Despite having a large squad of players, their mentality could be affected by Wenger moving into the final year of his deal. This is compounded by the fact that 15 first team player contracts expire within the next two years. Six within the next 12 months: Mertesacker, Koscielny, Cazorla, Monreal, Sanogo and Campbell, and a further nine expire within two years: Ozil, Sanchez, Giroud, Wilshere, Szczesny, Gibbs, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jenkinson and Gnabry.
I personally believe Ozil and Sanchez are playing out the final year of their contracts – as they see it. Both players will soon be 28 and are doubtless wondering whether Arsenal is the best place to be prior to signing what will probably be their last contract at a big club. At times, both look fed up with the players around them and they cannot be happy with the paucity of ambition that is being shown. I reckon Ozil will end up at Man Utd next season, as Jose Mourinho is a big fan of his.
As we move through the season, their continued unwillingness to put pen to paper could act as a catalyst for Wenger deciding to step down. Within a toxic atmosphere, it would be hard to imagine that he is up to the challenge of trying to replace such key components of the squad.
Can Liverpool cause an upset at Arsenal on Sunday? Certainly. Klopp’s team will steam into a nervous Arsenal backline. But Liverpool’s defence is also suspect and new signings will have to adapt quickly. Going into the match, both teams are riddled with absentees for various reasons. Therefore, this game could end up being as much about who didn’t play as who did.
Personally, I’m looking forward to watching Everton vs Tottenham tomorrow.
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