Just as Arsenal supporters got all the stress out of their systems from last season and were able to recalibrate their hopes and dreams, the new campaign is set to begin.
We’re keen for the team to put the past behind them and focus on the task ahead, but it’s something we never do ourselves. Regardless, we still keep coming back every season to provide our unconditional support. But why?
Fear and hope. Arsenal deliver such hardship and cause much stress each season, but they also provide us with hope going into a new campaign.
After missing out on a Champions League place last season and facing the prospect of losing Alexis Sanchez, fans were fearful of what was to come. But after signing Lyon’s Alexandre Lacazette and beating Chelsea in the Community Shield, supporters are hopeful going into 2017/18.
When Alexis Sanchez was ruled out of our opening two games with an abdominal injury, nobody believed it. Depite the fact he needs a rest after featuring in the Confederations Cup with Chile and needs work getting back to fitness, there is that little voice in the back of your head saying: ‘Oh God, he’s leaving. Oh God he’s leaving.’
You’re not wrong to be fearful. Any long-suffering Arsenal fan is. We all remember that moment we realised Cesc Fabregas might actually be leaving.But Alexis Sanchez’s injury report may well be innocent and genuine, although nobody is treating it as such until the summer transfer window closes.
And that’s precisely what it’s like to be an Arsenal fan – constant cynicism and pessimism. Even though there’s plenty to worry about ahead of our opening game, with a host of players currently on the treatment table, there is always some hope.
Chelsea will start the season without the injured Eden Hazard. Manchester United still rely on Marouane Fellaini as an attacking option despite paying £75m for Romelu Lukaku. Liverpool are strugging to keep Philippe Coutinho at the club with Barcelona circling.
Tottenham appear to mimicking Arsenal between 2007-2011, selling their best players for big money and not reinvesting it, with the view to finishing in the top-four while paying off their stadium. As for Manchester City, Pep Guardiola is trying to build a whole new defence from scratch.
Arsenal aren’t in a bad place ahead of Friday’s Premier League opener, but we’ve been here before. There are countless examples of the Gunners dropping cheap points to lesser opponents and being a side physical teams could steamroller. A Sam Allardyce-managed Crystal Palace team once swept aside Arsenal.
But, now we have an answer when asked questions by physical sides. We have a tank in Sead Kolalsinac. An actual tank. If he gets up a head of steam, drives towards goal, stumbles and trips over the advertising hoardings, he’s going to end up in the North Sea and the whole of the North Bank is going to end up with him.
Maybe I’m being a little facetious. But all we ever want from our team is to be different from the one of last season. We want to see signs that the club has tried to fix its flaws and improve in an attempt to compete for trophies. After Arsenal failed to reach their objectives last season, it was imperative these signs were visible.
Is that the case? Well, as of today, it could be worse. Alexis is still at the club and any prospect of him playing beside Özil and Alexandre Lacazette will always be exciting. Granit Xhaka is playing far better ever since Arsenal started playing three at the back. And there could be plenty of money in the bank to improve the squad once the likes of Lucas Perez, Mathieu Debuchy and Kieran Gibbs are sold on.
There’s still work to do, but as of right now, Arsenal are better than they were at the start of last season. Will that be enough? There’s only one way to find out.
Like I said, fear and hope. Here we go again.