We are 1 week away from our season coming to life with the Community Shield taking place on Sunday the 10th August. As much as most of us think that this is a slightly more fancy preseason friendly any game against City has a bit of added spice. Money v Natural growth, Mercenaries v Lovers of the game, they’re my ideals/thoughts anyway.
Having watched the Emirates cup over the last few days and seeing the players get minutes under their belt has been good. I was beginning to fear that not enough of our fist teamers had enough minutes under their belt for the start of the season. In fairness we still have 2 weeks until the Home game v Palace, which leaves plenty of time for running, however game time is an entirely different thing as we all know. It was good to see Sanogo break his duck with a fine performance and Joel Campbell looks a great prospect. It is beginning to feel like we have a few options that can make a difference up top and vaguely reminds me of having Bergkamp, Wright, Wreh and Anelka. All completely different players to what we have now, but a good mix of centre forward. I believe we have that mix now, which has been a long time coming. In Giroud and Sanogo we have the big men who can hold the ball up well and create space for others. In Alexis Sanchez and to a lesser extent Joel Campbell we have runners in behind. Add Walcott and Podolski to that mix and we have a multitude of options available when we are finding it difficult to break teams down where the element of surprise can be a key factor. Talking of Sanchez, he seemed to look pretty good this weekend. He seemed to want to prove something which was great to see, he really does try 100% of the time which is great to see from a world class player. We can almost forgive the really gifted players of the game for a few lapses but Sanchez didn’t seem to have many of those. Hopefully he’ll be fully fit sooner rather than later.
A couple of things that we also witnessed over this weekend was our weakness from set pieces. The two goals we conceded came from too much space being allowed from a set piece and even though it’s preseason and we are tinkering with the back four there are certain principles that I feel need to be addressed for the long term picture. The ethos of any defensive player should in theory be the same so even if people are scoring from set pieces we should have players in the right position to prevent that, so to leave players completely open is probably not the best thing. There are a few new players to bed in though and as much as this will take time, I really hope it doesn’t take too much as we will be tested from set pieces against the likes of Palace pretty soon.
The only mantras that are truly important with all of these pre-season friendlies are ‘players gain fitness’ and ‘players stay injury free’ which largely we seem to have achieved. I remember last pre-season we looked in really good shape going into the real stuff with a great win over Man City however as we all well know, that doesn’t quite relate to form in the Premier League having been completely lethargic in our opening day game against Aston Villa. As I’ve mentioned previously so long as we can have all of our players fit going into the season that is the main thing and it will be the key factor as to mounting a title challenge goes. The problem last season was that when we picked up injuries we couldn’t really change things up in any way. The bright side of that was Serge Gnabry coming to the fore and making a mark on the first team, but the bigger picture was that we fell away against the big teams around us. This season has me feeling more confident largely because of the new signings as well as a few World Cup winners in the squad, I’m sure that the aforementioned good bits will create a positively infectious atmosphere around the team.
Two more weeks and we’re there, what we’ve all been waiting for, the start of the season. I’ve almost got that Fever Pitch feeling, not quite but almost.
Have a great week.