There are so many reasons to be excited for the new season if you are a Gooner, but I have been asked to outline my top 5 – Reasons to be Cheerful!
Gabriel Jesus – It is almost impossible to start anywhere else. The Brazilian centre forward was the most crucial signing and is proving so already in pre-season. It is not as simple as Arsenal needing a new striker after the departures of Aubameyang and Lacazette, but the type of striker required. Arteta needed a player who would fit the high pressing style he wanted to play and not just a better goal getter. Nketiah improved in this department, but Arsenal’s new number 9 has been playing and winning in a team that presses collectively for years. I am relishing how he will blend with his young and creative colleagues, so Premier League defences beware.
William Saliba – Arsenal fans have been desperate to see the young Frenchman in the famous red and white. Even more so after his hugely impressive third season on loan, which saw him rewarded with individual player awards and international recognition. Saliba is strong, good in the air, but vitally far more mobile than the ever-popular Rob Holding. As committed as the Englishman is, when Arteta has to call on him, in a back 2, his lack of pace impacts the team’s ability to play a high line and his lack of passing range limits us. His man of the match display last Friday at Selhurst Park gave us further reasons to feel excited.
It remains to be seen is the Frenchman will displace Ben White as first choice but having three top centre backs provides healthy competition and also offers the ability to seamlessly switch between systems and utilise a back 3, as we have witnessed already.
Arteta’s Squad – The past week and the coming week will see more departures from the Emirates, and I hope the final stages of transforming the squad from Emery’s to Arteta’s. Yes, we can bemoan the amount of money we are receiving for some of the players being sold, but I would sooner focus of the positive aspects.
After all, it is not my money and is if it means by the end of the Transfer Window, Arteta has a more balanced and competitive squad, solely comprised of players capable and importantly, willing to play his way, then I see that has fabulous news.
The Captaincy – Many fans, and even recent managers of Arsenal, have not seen the club captaincy as being as important. I am firmly not in that camp and whilst I agree we need several leaders on the pitch, I still want my team to have one captain. Therefore, I am delighted that Arteta has offered that responsibility to Martin Odegaard, a true inspiration on the pitch, with high energy, amazing ability and a never say die attitude.
We can finally move away from the spin of the roulette wheel each week as to who would wear the armband. If you want that you can play online games here, but I don’t want it at The Arsenal
I am confident the Norwegian will relish the privilege, as his has for his country and when you moan at only receiving small fees for Torreira and Leno, maybe balance that with the thought that we signed Odegaard, a £60 million player for about £33 million.
Momentum – Whilst it is not always sensible to read too much into pre-season, I think we can all agreed that the pre-season for 22/23 has been uplifting. The new players have bedded in swiftly, including Zinchencko who will provide excellent competition for Kieran Tierney and there seems a genuine camaraderie in the squad. Jesus is playing with Saka, Martinelli and Odegaard as if he has been with them for years and Ramsdale has got his precision distribution radar back.
After all, Everton, Chelsea and Sevilla are not the Austrian 2nd Division opposition Arsene Wenger’s championship winning teams warned up against. In Pre-season, this team have scored 12 unanswered goals against 2 Premier League teams and the tea that finished 4th in La Liga.
A win away for starters, so bring on Leicester at the Emirates!
This the full unedited version of this week’s Fan Column for Sun Football.
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