Four days. 96 hours, until the Premier League returns after over 3 months. 7 days until Arsenal will be prepping themselves to play their second match against Brighton. After months of no news or slow news days, waiting for word, surrounded by a world in the midst of a global pandemic, the games will come fast and furious.
For many, myself included, this ban and resumption has been a conflicting time. Starting with the season being cancelled, the rise and continued ascension of Coronavirus’ death toll, and the current tensions over race and equality that are being felt across the world. Many days, it felt odd, almost wrong, to be considering completing the season when it was so evident how little sport matter in this time. It felt as though focusing on pushing for the return of the Premier League and sport wasn’t taking the surrounding issues serious enough.
Many of my fears over the resurgence of COVID-19 and the risk the league would be putting players in for their own benefit have been subsided. Given the rather successful return of the Bundesliga, the restart of Serie A, and the routine testing of players that has shown the rather successful results of the protocols and constraints put in place by leagues, I must hold my hands up and admit my fears were proved wrong. Something I will gladly do.
As for equality, we have seen leagues, players, teams, and clubs all rise to the occasion in open, positive response to the death of George Floyd and the changes that need to be made. It is a stance I will hope carries through the rest of the season and seeps its way into governing bodies to manifest itself in action. The global game is far to easy on racism and those that spread the ideology. Even last week, we saw Dele Alli only banned for 1 game after making an extremely insensitive and stereotypical video involving Coronavirus and mocking Asian people.
To make matters worse, one of his responses was a feeling of betrayal that “a friend” that broadcast it and shared it. Hardly the point, Dele. I understand it would be easy to dismiss my view given he plays for Tottenham, but it was a clear point where the leagues could have made a statement in the form of action against racism and haven’t. The fight continues.
On a lighter note, in the last week we saw Arsenal play two friendlies—or at least saw their highlights— and I would be lying if I said it didn’t spark a significant amount of excitement to see the players I generally enjoy watching, play again. I have not latched onto the Bundesliga, watched highlights from La Liga to see the fake crowds added to the grounds (little odd), and didn’t jump at the opportunity to watch yesterday’s major Serie A matchup between AC Milan and Juventus. But I have high hopes that seeing Arsenal play again will be a very enjoyable, different experience.
I have already enjoyed looking ahead to next week to do a little bit of preplanning of what is to come. Back to the routine of pre-match write ups, watching and writing on games, and following it up with some thoughts and takeaways – the work that made me want to start Gunner Thoughts to begin with.
In looking ahead, it dawned on me what a major 2 weeks this will be for Arsenal and many other teams. Not only because games are back on, but because some contracts are scheduled to expire at the end of the month leaving Arsenal with work to be done if that want certain players to be available after their match against Brighton.
From my understanding, David Luiz, Dani Ceballos, Pablo Mari, Cedric Soares, and Matt Macey create the shortlist of players Arsenal will have to work with to strike a deal. If nothing is done, Arsenal could find themselves four, first-team players short for the remainder of the season. Not to mention, Luiz and Ceballos have started to feature regularly under Mikel Arteta’s management and Pablo Mari is believed to offer Arteta the left-footed center back he is looking for to support the left side of the attack.
Work to be done on and off the field for Arsenal and little time to do it all. All of our eyes will be glued to the news…well mine will be. First up, a return date with Manchester City for Arsenal and Arteta. 4 days!