Now the transfer window is closed and the international break is at an end, Arsenal can get on with the business at hand.
Of course, this ‘business’ is to haul themselves up the league table and get a little bit closer to the three clubs who have opened the season with 100% records.
Okay, so only three games, but I know I’d rather have 9 points than the 4 we have. We all know that one, if not both of the Manchester clubs will take a hit this weekend, so the visit of Southampton to north London already feels like one of those fixtures Arsenal dare not blow.
Exaggeration? Maybe, but consider that if there is a positive result in the Manchester derby and we don’t beat Southampton, we will already be seven or eight points behind whoever wins that match.
Normally, I think we’d all be fairly confident of our heroes bagging three points, even if Southampton have proved a reasonably tough nut for us to crack of late. However, next Tuesday sees the resumption of Champions League hostilities. That brings with it a short, but certain to be difficult, trip to Paris and the Parc des Princes.
I feel reasonably certain that after last year’s Farty Towels (ask your dad) style opening to Champions League group stage proceedings, Arsène Wenger will be very keen to avoid a repeat.
On the face of it, this could just mean that David Ospina is kept exactly where he should be, sat behind the manager on the substitutes bench. However, it does seem to me that there will almost certainly be some rotation on Saturday. And we know, because we see it every year, that rotation usually signals danger.
I suppose that isn’t rocket science, for a team so reliant on rhythm and a certain degree of telepathy, it makes sense that anything more than a couple of changes can be so damaging to the Arsenal.
I’ve talked myself into a bit of a hole here. Is Arsène likely to put the opportunity to climb up the Premier League at risk so early into the season and just after an international break? On second thoughts, perhaps not. I don’t know, I just have a slightly uneasy feeling about this weekend’s fixture.
Even with the options we now possess in the squad.
I do think, though, that we are almost certain to see the return of Olivier Giroud for his first start this season. I suppose the obvious candidate to come out of that front line is Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. I haven’t seen enough of the Ox this season to make an informed judgement, but I don’t think it’s unfair to suggest that, already, people are worried about him. I’m starting to wonder if the truth of his struggles lie in Mr Wenger’s long distant assertion that the Ox is, above and beyond anything else, a central midfielder.
I am almost certainly making excuses for a player who has flattered to deceive for the majority of his five years at Arsenal. I’m also probably making the wrong excuse, bearing in mind the injury traumas which have haunted the Ox, and haunted him like the most malevolent spectre, throughout his Arsenal career. I just have this niggling feeling that, despite the pace, despite the trickery, he just lacks something when put out on the flank.
Let me put it this way, we have never since seen him illuminate a game the way he did when Arsenal visited Bayern Munich in 2014. He was centre stage then. Maybe that’s where he needs to be now.
I know, we have an abundance of talent there; I’m just riffing. I guess, in terms of him playing centrally, he has the same problem as Jack Wilshere who has now left London to seek his fortune elsewhere. Albeit temporarily. There are just too many players ahead of him in the queue. At least, the Ox has the pace to play wide effectively.
On Jack Wilshere, I noticed that one of our esteemed editors had a few choice words for Paul Scholes after the former United midfielder piled in on our Jack with all the grace of, well, one of his ill timed tackles, which seemed kinda ironic, if you think about Jack’s injury problems.
I have to say though, I had some sympathy with what Scholes had to say. Leaving aside the fact that Jack had a young family to consider when making his decision, so was probably wise to skip Roma, I think Scholes’ comments echo the confusion I feel when I think of Jack.
In one breath Scholes says Jack has set his sights too low in choosing Bournemouth, in the next, he says Jack isn’t guaranteed to play at Bournemouth. It sounds mad and contradictory, but whilst I disagree with Scholes, I can see where he’s coming from. Except that I think Jack will almost certainly play as long as he can stay fit.
My problem with that is that even if he does stay fit for this season, what will he have proved beyond his fitness? That he can stand out in the Bournemouth team? Or is this loan really only about his fitness?
What if, just for argument’s sake, he does stay fit but somehow manages to stink the place out for a year? I know, it may not seem likely, but just consider it. Where does that leave him?
People talk to me and tell me how talented Jack is, but I just don’t see where he fits in at Arsenal. Particularly with Mesut Özil apparently not looking to go anywhere.
I started this by talking about rotation, didn’t I?
Seems appropriate I’ve ended in a bit of a spin.