Just when I didn’t think the opening Premier League weekend could get any more satisfactory, it all wrapped up with Tottenham losing their opening match to a much changed Everton side 1-0.
Ah. Pure satisfaction.
There is something fantastic about seeing the scoreboard showing Tottenham losing with time winding down and Mourinho’s face upset by it all. Enjoy!
But it was far from the only thing I found interesting about the opening weekend. Obviously there was an Arsenal win which is something that single-handedly can make or break a weekend. There was tons about the game to enjoy and a few great takeaways. If you missed it, check out my thoughts on Arsenal-Fulham.
Obviously, the performance from Arsenal’s two debutants, Willian and Gabriel, stole the show. Two assists from Willian, one of which was tucked away by Gabriel, ON A SET PIECE, on his way to collecting a Man of the Match award will have given Arsenal fans across the world plenty of reason to sleep soundly. But not every debut across the league went as well.
This year, all the promoted sides lost their debut match, which you might be surprised to know is actually rare. Fulham lost 3-0 to Arsenal, Leeds United lost 3-4 to Liverpool, and West Brom lost 3-0 to Leicester City. Now it must be said, these matchups are not very kind debuts for all three of these clubs, especially given the short offseason that means they haven’t completed their windows.
But aside from Leeds, who should be applauded for their performance away from home, at Anfield, where they not only held their own against the champions but made them sweat, the promoted sides looked flat. West Brom and Fulham were at home, in their first Premier League matches, and they looked emotionless. Not just out played, that is something people could understand, but to look so out of it was interesting.
Then it dawned on me. This will have been the first time that Premier League debuts for promoted sides will have been played without the raucous, raw, pulsating energy of their supporters coursing in the air. And when you are tasked with such a difficult piece of business, having that kind of support will make you believe you can do anything.
From that thought, I quickly progressed into how this could effect Arsenal. Obviously, the Gunners received some of the benefit already by facing Fulham, but there could be more to come. Arsenal play this week against West Ham. Granted it’s at The Emirates, West Ham looked like a side defeated before they stepped on the field against Newcastle. They are a side that would cling desperately to any semblance of support given the toxic environment that now envelops the Hammers. If Arsenal can take advantage, in a situation where neither side will get support but Arsenal are brimming with confidence, we could start off the season with 6 points, which is something we will certainly be thankful of toward the end when Arsenal actually have an easier finish.
Why do we have an easier run in? Because we have a tough start. After West Ham, Arsenal have a Carabao Cup matchup with Leicester City and then a match at Anfield against Liverpool to finish up September. In October, Arsenal play Sheffield United, Manchester City, Leicester City, and Manchester United all in the Premier League. That is a tough run of games for any team to deal with, but while we have some idea that the league will want to start to slowly reintroduce some fans into the stadium, not having to play these sides with fans around will change the atmosphere, which may be for the better.
Arsenal were excellent in during the restart and having shown a great ability to play in empty stadiums. Part of that success has come because of the ease in which Arteta can communicate with his players. During the restart last season, Arteta could be heard directing Ceballos throughout entire matchups while he found his footing alongside Xhaka. This weekend, Arteta could be heard communicating quite frequently with Gabriel. And with Gabriel, Saliba, Willian, and ideally more on the way, the ability to convey messages to them during a match could be a huge benefit for their early development and a boost to their comfort.
This doesn’t promise wins or results. At all. But if you’re going to have to go to Anfield or Old Trafford, it’s probably a lot easier to get a result without their fans.
Shortly after Arsenal’s game this weekend, news went around that part of the reason Emi Martinez did not travel with the team was that he was set to have a medical, and be on the path of completing a move away from The Emirates. Today it was confirmed that his move to Aston Villa was done and details would be announced shortly. The fee is believed to be in the region of £16m + add ons that should see the sum come out around the £20m mark.
It’s always a sad day to see such a fantastic servant of the club leave, especially when recent performances suggest their game is at its peak. Despite having predicted in my preseason predictions that if one of the keepers left it would be Emi and that many would not be happy with the fee, it brings me no joy to see him go. He was a great example to our younger players of what loyalty and patience look like in the world of professional sport. He exemplified what it means to wait for your opportunity to shine and take it with both hands. You can’t suggest he did anything to lose his spot. He simply made his request, voiced his self-worth, and left the decision in Arsenal’s hands. It’s about all he can do and Arsenal made the tough choice to cash in on the fact that his price skyrocketed 10x in the last month – hard to blame them either.
If it is any consolation, we are left in the very capable hands of Bernd Leno who last season was on pace to potentially be Arsenal’s Player of the Season before getting hurt. It’s important to remember that for almost 2 season both keepers battled for the spot and Leno never gave it up, even through the errors that many may want to throw in his direction now. Even this weekend, when tasked with very little, he made the big plays when it counted, including the early clean up of Gabriel’s error that could have changed the whole complexion of the match.
Emi will be sorely, sorely missed. I simply hope he has a fantastic career from here on out in every game he isn’t playing against us. Thank you Emi.
Arsenal are looking to find a replacement and would prefer that they cost very little. It’s widely agreed that Matt Macey is either not ready or incapable of being the backup keeper full-time which means Arsenal will have to dip into Emi’s sale funds to procure a new backup. Being able to spend most of those funds on the midfield is crucial for Arsenal to take the next step.
There are links to Runar Alex Runarsson, Iceland’s goalkeeper, but many are up in arms at his recent record and stats. Some even proclaiming him as the worst goalkeeper in Ligue 1 for two years running. He currently is Dijon, but the reported fee is only around £1.5m. We will see what happens!
Alright, leaving it there. Enjoy your week. Reports of an Aubameyang announcement coming soon! Cant happy soon enough!!
Leave me a comment on the article, on social media, or if you liked the piece – subscribe to get notifications whenever I publish pieces.