Friday, August 18, 2006

Finally, Football Season Is Back

No, not college football: 2 more weeks for that. But proper footy starts tomorrow, at least the English Premier League.

It seems so long ago that the 2005-2006 Premiership season ended in such incredibly rewarding fashion. Thanks to the World Cup we basically had 2 one month offseasons with a month long orgy of World Cup soccer in between instead of the usual 3 month layoff. Either way, I sure am glad that it's all starting up again, with the renewed promise of a new season where everyone's team is tied at the top of the table (unless you support some of the Italian teams of course).

I would give you some sort of well written Arsenal preview, but it already exists from a much better writer whose thoughts I pretty much totally agree with. I think on any given day that Arsenal can compete and beat anyone, Chel$ea included. The trick comes with the lack of depth, which could be Arsenal's achillies heel this year, especially if there are significant injuries or suspensions. That being said, Ash Cole will most defintely be sold so maybe someone will be brought in with the money received for him.

Some of my rambling, all-over-the-place thoughts:

The new stadium in and of itself is exciting. Seeing it, as well as watching how the team adjusts to the much bigger field, as well as hoping that it will be louder and full of song than the sometimes "Highbury the Library". It will also be great to see the team back in proper red & white uniforms instead of those silly "redcurrant" ones from last year.

Emirates at night: can't wait for the first CL match.

So I think that Arsenal could beat Chel$ea and win the league, and obviously as a fan I hope that they can. However, in my heart of hearts I would think that if Chel$ea are to be beaten this season, that it will be Liverpool or Manchester United, who just splashed out $50 million to vastly improve their central midfield with Michael Carrick and Owen Hargreaves(well not quite yet on Hargreaves but supposedly it is going down very very soon). These two clubs seem sot have more veteran, experienced talent wehreas the Arsenal threat is in rapidly developing youth, so at this point The Pool and ManUtd seem more likely to have a chance to beat out Chel$ea.

That being said, I still think that Arsenal can do it if the breaks fall their way. Last year the vibe of the team was shock, disbelief, and feeling sorry for themselves at the sudden and suprising departure of captain and team leader Patrick Vieira. This season the vibe is one of confidence and self belief after making a run all the way to the Champions League final.

I just know that in Thierry Henry they have one of the very best players in the world, and it is exciting to watch him play in any match because of the special things that he continually does on the field. I also know that in Cesc Fabregas they have one of the 2 best teenage players on the planet, and he is now at the point where I love watching him do his thing any chance I get. And that little dance move last week against Zagreb was sweet, too. I'm also excited that Cesc has inherited Vieira's #4 jersey, that Kolo Toure has inherited Martin Keown's #5 jersey and Senderos has inherited legendary Arsenal captain Tony Adams' #6 jersey.

Titi & Cesc: worth the price of admission alone.

The team all around is extremely young, talented and exciting that I look forward to watching them play week in and week out to see them grow, develop, and improve. The amount of talent that Wenger has cultivated that is 25 & under is just stunning: Rosicky 25, Hleb 25, Eboue 23, Flamini 22, Senderos 21, Van Persie 21, Reyes 21, Adebayor 21, Clichy 21, Diaby 20, Fabregas 19, and Djourou 19, not to mention the youngsters on the cusp of breaking into the first team such as Hoyte 21, Lupoli 19, Bentner 18 and the next hyped teen sensation Walcott 17. I dare say that no other club in the world has such a collection of young talent like this. Watching them grow up, develop and shine under Wenger will be very exciting to see from week to week.

I love this man, and I'm not afraid to say it.

Henry and Mats have proven that they are veterans who the youngsters can look to for leadership and consistent performances. Lastly, in Arsene Wenger Arsenal have the finest manager in the entire world, period. I'm jacked and ready to go.

I realized this summer that in the last few years I have become a true Gooner. I started following the team in1998 mainly because they signed my favorite player, Kanu. For a while I loved Arsenal but mainly because my 2 favorite players, K25 and PV4 played there. Now they are both gone but I am as interested in the team as ever. I have flown across the world twice to see them play at Highbury, and after 7 years I now understand all those people who talk about loving the club and that no player is bigger than the club. I have reached the point where I'll be "Arsenal till I die" as the common chant goes, not matter who plays for them and no matter if they are champions or shite or even relegated to division 3.

Kanu at Highbury, March 2006.

Enough rambling, bring on the season.

Arsenal-Aston Villa.
7 a.m. PST. Setanta Sports USA Channel

I predict a 3-0 win over Aston Villa tomorrow. Their new manager O'Neill is very good and will eventually turn things around, especially since the club has just been bought by Cleveland Browns owner Randolph Lerner who will likely make money available to bring in some better players in the next few years. I actually think that given their history, fan base, and resources, that Villa could be a bit of a sleping giant. But none of that is going to happen fast enough to make them any good tomorrow, and hopefully Arsenal will roll them. So I'll take 3-0 with Henry scoring the first competitive goal at Emirates, which is only right since he scored the last goal at Highbury. I'll also go with Van Persie (who I think will have a breakout season and score 15 goals) and new man Harry Potter the USA killer Rosicky.

Myles astutuely points out that Wenger has dropped Ash Cole from the team altogether because if he played or even warmed up on the sideline the massive negative reaction from the crowd would be a big distraction to the team, and it will already be a bit of a weird distraction breaking in their new home. A wise move methinks - I believe that I would buy a used car from Wenger with very few questions asked.

Thanks to the Fox Soccer Channel/Setanta shenanigans, I'm off to the pub at the crack of dawn. Whomever your team is, enjoy the first weekend of the Prem.

1 comment:

Ian said...

I think I just found one of my new favorite blogs to add to the list.
Loved the bit about "Arsenal till I die" and the relegation to division 3.

Enjoy the season.