Thursday, 6 September 2012

It's Time We Talked

I have seriously been neglecting this blog. Escape to N5 has not been given the attention it deserves. We just beat Liverpool on Sunday and if you look back about 3 or 4 posts, you'll see my match report from the same game last season. A lot has happened since that match way back in March and it's pathetic I have not been able to blog and comment on any games since.

I just don't have the time or energy to spend my free time away from work here on the blog. Having said that, I don't want to give up. I enjoy writing little pieces here and there about Arsenal. I just struggle to see the point in writing match reports a day late when the game will have already been written about by countless others immediately after the final whistle. Yet I don't intend to pack it in just yet and I feel I can still contribute some meaningful pieces here at Escape to N5.

So a lot has happened since my last post, when Robin van Persie dropped the bombshell that he wasn't going to sign a new contract. Our former captain has since joined Manchester United and carried on his fine form from last season, scoring a hat trick at Southampton in a 3-2 come-from-behind win for United (despite missing a penalty). I was sad to see him go, he'd been my favourite player for the past 5 years or so and was a joy to watch. It's a real shame he moved to one of our rivals because now all the great memories from his time at the club have been somewhat tarnished for me.

Theo Walcott nearly left the club recently after failing to come to terms on a new contract with the club. I think it was a good decision by Arsenal not to sell him and continue negotiations. We all know Theo hasn't really set the world alight during his time in North London but he's still young and has gotten better every season. I think it'd be unwise to give up on him just yet, plus he's an easy guy to support - what you see is what you get and I admire clean-cut players like Walcott. Alex Song also departed for pastures anew, joining Barcelona in a transfer that seemed to come out of nowhere. At a club already full to the brim with talented midfielders, Barca's acquisition of Song seems puzzling. I liked Song a great deal, especially over the last 2 years, but I think Wenger made the right decision to sell him if Alex was unhappy. If Diaby can stay fit and continue to play like he has recently, I don't think we'll miss Song's impact much at all.

On the positive side, the signing of Santi Cazorla from financially-plagued Malaga has been a masterstroke by Wenger. The dynamic Spanish midfielder has slotted into the side with ease and looks supremely confident in the playmaker role. Cazorla was the kind of player we lacked last year after we lost Fabregas so it's a joy to watch a player of Santi's quality pulling strings in midfield. He's a real talent.

Let us also pay attention to our solid start to the season. Despite scoring no goals in our first 2 games against Sunderland and Stoke, every fan must be impressed with the new stability evident in the defence. Three games and three clean sheets, two of them without our number one goalkeeper. The partnership of Vermaelen and Mertesacker in the centre has rarely been troubled thus far in the campaign and the entire back four has looked impressive. Gibbs is continuing his development as a top left-back and Jenkinson has filled in admirably at right-back in Sagna's absence. In fact the game against Liverpool at Anfield on Sunday was his best performance yet. Mannone has performed well since Szczesny went down injured and I feel a lot more confident in him than I ever have previously. It looks like the young Italian's loan spell at Hull last season did him wonders. I think it's clear to every Arsenal fan that Steve Bould's influence since taking over as the assistant manager is having an effect on the defence. The team look a lot more confident in defending as a unit and hopefully Bould's presence can continue to have the desired effect.

On a personal note I'm getting ready to purchase my new home shirt in the next week or so. Most years I just get the shirt without a player's name on it but this year I feel like spending that little bit more. The only problem I'm having is deciding on which player should grace my new shirt. Here's where I'm at:

Lukas Podolski 85%
Santi Cazorla 10%
Mikel Arteta 5%

I've admired Podolski for a long time and his signing this summer was easily the one I was most excited for. Once he got given the number 9 I was convinced, as the number 9 is one of my favourite numbers. Yet some doubt has crept in, despite Podolski scoring his first goal for the club at Liverpool on Sunday. My decision to delay choosing the German has nothing to do with his play, of which I've been very impressed with since he joined. It's the superb start to his Arsenal career by Cazorla that has me questioning whether or not I should choose the Spaniard for my new shirt. Another Spanish midfielder is in contention as well. After the mad deadline day we experienced last season, it was the signing of Arteta that excited me the most and I felt he had a very good first season at the club, his match winning goal against Man City being a highlight. His solid and reliable presence in midfield is the reason he makes the list, plus I like the number 8 (thank you Mr Wright and Mr Ljungberg). Once I buy and receive the shirt I'll post some pic's on here.

That'll do for today. I felt the international break gave me a chance to catch up so I hope you've enjoyed my little re-cap. Like I said previously, I don't know how often I'll be writing on the blog but I'll try to make more of an effort from now on.

Thanks for reading.