The time has finally come. The pre-season is over. The dodgy Champions League qualifiers against teams coached by Steve McClaren are (almost) over. The Premiership season is about to begin. Today at 12.45pm UK time (9.45pm Australian time) Arsenal take on newly promoted West-Bromwich Albion to open the Premier League season.
The game is being played at Emirates Stadium and like the midweek match against FC Twente, Arsenal will unfortunately still be missing a host of first-team regulars. Indeed, although Samir Nasri and Kolo Toure will return to the squad – the former likely to start, the latter far less likely – Arsenal will still be without Cesc Fabregas, Philippe Senderos, Abou Diaby, Alex Song as well as long-term absentees Tomas Rosicky, Eduardo and Amaury Bischoff.
The injuries mean that the side that started against Twente midweek will likely back up against West Brom. That means Manuel Almunia in goals behind a back four of Bacary Sagna, Johan Djourou, William Gallas and Gael Clichy, a midfield consisting of Theo Walcott and Emmanuel Eboue out wide and Denilson and Aaron Ramsey in the middle and the excellent strike-force of Emmanuel Adebayor and Robin van Persie.
It’s a side more than good enough to beat newly-promoted West Brom and in a league as tight as it has been in the last few seasons it is a game that absolutely needs to be won for Arsenal. A good start to the season last time was around was exactly the reason why Arsenal came so close to winning the league and – as Arsene Wenger points out – another good start will be imperative if the club are to fight for the title this time around:
“This season I feel it will be more down to starting well and being more relaxed when it comes to the crunch point. Last year we were leading the Premier League due to a good start.”
There’s not much more to add other than to say that the manager is absolutely right; three points and a good start to the season is an absolute must for the boys today. Will they achieve it? Who knows. But you can be guaranteed they’ll give it a damn good shot. It will be another good chance for fringe players like Johan Djourou, Aaron Ramsey, Denilson, Emmanuel Eboue and Theo Walcott to stake their claim for a starting spot and that alone should some energetic performances.
On a personal level it would be an understatement to say I’m bloody excited about the game tonight. Although the game against Twente was the first competitive game of the season there is something just a little bit more special about the first game of the Premiership campaign.
I’ll be watching the game tonight (Australian time) with a bunch of Brisbane Gooners at the Pig ‘n’ Whistle Riverside and if there’s any other Arsenal supporters in Brisbane I’d encourage them to get down around 9.30pm to cheer the boys on. If you feeling like saying ‘hello’ the just look for the skinny, long-haired fellow with the white ‘Adebayor-25’ shirt on. He’s me.
Although I won’t be there, I know the official Arsenal Australia Supporters’ Club are hosting events at The Celtic Club in Melbourne and the Cheers Bar and Star City Casino in Sydney. As for other Australian readers you can see out where game viewings are being held around country by checking out this link.
For everyone else around the world, enjoy the game wherever you watch it. Cheers and go the Gunners!
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