Interesting to see that Burnley have already got through one round of qualifying for the Europa Cup, having beaten Aberdeen after extra time in their second leg. They play the first leg of their second qualifying round against Istanbul Basaksehir tonight with the second leg being in a week’s time. For those with short memories, that could well have been us. We did eventually finish 9 points ahead of Burnley last season but there were times when it was touch and go as to who would end up on top. Liverpool will also have to go through a pre-qualifying round in the UEFA competition which I think takes place on 18/19 August and 2/3 October.
So back to The Arsenal and what a way to start our campaign with our new manager – the reigning EPL champions, Manchester City at home. It could have been worse, Manchester City away – lol – but hopefully, meeting them early season may not be all that bad. Admittedly, they have gotten off to a good start with their 2-0 victory over Chelsea in the Community Shield last weekend, whereas we could manage only a draw against Chelsea in Dublin a week ago (and of course the eventual win courtesy of a penalty shoot out). Are we ready for them? Well, questions have been raised about our midfield with Ramsey not starting against Chelsea where he had a slight twinge in his calf muscle, and Torierra only having that one game to get back to fitness. On the good news side of things, we have a fella called Guendouzi who has been impressing pre-season, we have Mhiki and WE HAVE OZIL. So all in all midfield should be fine and I haven’t even mentioned Xhaka or Elneny. Up front we’re also good with Auba and Laca ready to fill their boots this season which really only leaves us with our defensive concerns. Two new faces this season in the experienced Stephan Lichtsteiner and Sokratis Papastathopolous (last time I’m typing that out) will hopefully tighten things up at the back with Mustafi still around from last season and dare I say it, improving with every game. Kolasinac is injured and Monreal has not yet had a run out in pre-season which leaves us with just Ainsley Maitland Niles who I believe to be the best of the three anyhow, so no worries there. And of course there is Bellerin and also Holding in the squad……. Still no news of a deadline day Vida transfer!?!?! In goal we have Cech who is reported to be looking fitter than he was last season and has enjoyed a good pre-season as has our new signing Bernd Leno. I think Cech maintains the No 1 status but it will be a good battle throughout the season between the pair of them. Ospina should be on his way to Turkey if he can get his wages sorted.
On the ArsenalSA front, we have our shirt discount launch at Puma in the Mall of Africa on Saturday 11th at 6pm through until 7pm, so come along and register on the day at the store (I will be there) as a fully paid up member of the club to earn your discount. Not only will you benefit 20% discount at Puma on all Arsenal merchandise throughout the season, you will also benefit from 10% discount on all purchases at The Brazenhead where the club meets every game, in The Leaping Frog Centre in Fourways. Every purchase there will afford you an entry into the season’s grand prize of an air ticket to London and a match day ticket to watch Arsenal in a home game of your choice – not too shabby Nige, I hear you say! Also, for those fortunate to be travelling to the UK, you can also buy match day tickets for Arsenal home games through the club and all this for a paltry R150 for the season.
And then there is Sunday – the big game. Kick off is at 5pm and we will have the outside patio area set up so be there early and get yourselves comfortable for what’s likely to be a bit of a rollercoaster ride! ALSO, for those of you who had ArsenalSA cards last year and used them to earn your 10% discount at The Brazenhead, we will be doing the season draw for the Air Ticket and Arsenal Match Day Ticket immediately after the game on Sunday so hang around, you may be taking a trip sometime soon. See all you Gooners on Saturday and Sunday – let’s make it a great weekend.
Arsenal South Africa