Are Arsenal better now than last season? The increasing importance of Danny Welbeck, and a fitting test of champions

Arsenal City Flamini

Good morning ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to a much-belated post from me. I’m afraid that progress waits for no man, and in this case progress took the form of an unexpected business trip across the globe. Lifestyles of the rich and the famous, or in my case, the bloody lucky and eager. 

Why am I telling you this, in my self-aggrandising tone and self-important need? Well, other than the obvious sense of entitlement, my trip has brought me through to Partly-Sunny London, and within walking distance of that most hallowed of grounds, the Emirates.

For the first time in my life, I have SEEN my church. I have WALKED the stairs and bridges I have dreamed of walking. On a stadium tour I sat in the changing room of my heroes, plonked my skinny bottom on Monsieur Wenger’s chair and walked down the tunnel of the FA Cup Champions.

What a gloriously rapturous experience.

On to this weekend then, and what will prove to be the breaking of my Live Game Hymen. Manchester City. What a game this could prove to be, for more than one reason.

Firstly, playing the defending champions at home is the kind of game that displays the reason that we love football. The energy, the nervousness, the build up and conjecture around how we’ll line up and how we’ll play. Do we have a plan for their power and dynamism? Who’ll be fit on either side? What will our approach in those opening minutes be where we were found so wanting in these games last year?

These questions and more will be answered this Saturday, and the impact they will have on our season cannot be down-played. Lose, and it’s not the end of the world in terms of our season, but it’ll be another stick with which we’ll beat ourselves as a team. And you can be sure that if we’re going to use it on ourselves, others are positively salivating of adding a little extra whip behind the whack. Draw, and have we really progressed on the draw with them last season? Will we have learnt/progressed in the way we thought that we had? Are we truly where we want to be/believe we should be?

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Then there’s the other possibility. Win, and we immediately have more than half of the points allocation we’d accrued across the whole of last season against the top three teams. In our first challenge, we’ll be standing up and making the statement of intent, as well as displaying the ability to follow through on that intent with quantifiable quality. It’d be a confidence boost to the supporters and the team, showing that we’re moving on in the vein of the FA Cup, as opposed to another season chasing fourth place.

Make no mistake, this game is immensely important for us as a club, and I for one can’t wait to see us play as such.

One final note, Danny Welbeck eh? That’s one I didn’t see coming but welcome with open arms. The more and more I think about it, the more I see his signing becoming one we as supporters will properly appreciate as time goes on. He’s the kind of player that allows the transition from Olivier Giroud to Alexis Sanchez up front to be a smoother one, who gives us enough of what we’re used to meaning that we do not have to change our entire plan, and enough of what we want to move to in order to start to change that plan. Those few voices dismaying at his stature compared to some of the names bandied about at the end of transfer window could look very silly indeed if “Dat Guy” starts to hit his stride properly.

It would be absolutely delicious for him to score the winner this weekend. Positively poetic.

A quick word of thanks to the guys at Gunners Town for helping me organise a ticket this weekend, especially @invinciblog, and a thank you of course to the gentleman to sacrifice his ticket for me, @bmatwala.

Finally, should any of you like to meet after the game/have a pint, I’ll be at the Tollington after the game.

Enjoy the game, get behind the boys and remember, keep it classy Arsenal fans.

Bryan Thomson

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