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Cause for optimism or false start : What Arsenals opening game of the season tells us about the road ahead

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Arsenal traveled to Newcastle with a casualty list that would test the nerves of many a manager. So many automatic first choices were crocked for one reason or another, that the treatment room could have made a second string.

Unai Emery also had to contemplate those that may not be in his squad for very much longer including Mishap Mustafi and work shy Ozil, who may soon be looking at pastures new.

At least Emery has had a season in which he got his message across unlike professional failure, Steve Bruce. In fact, probably the worst thing for Newcastle is trying to get past the Mike Ashley ownership issues and the departure of the Geordies hero, Rafa Benitez which has left a heavy cloud hanging low over St James’s Park.

Bruce has had about as much time as his counterpart had to establish himself in the role and this may well play a part in Newcastle’s opening spell of the premiership.

READ MORE : Here Is What Arsenal Fans Should Be Expecting From Their New Centre-Back

By contrast, Arsenal fans headed off to Newcastle in a fairly buoyant mood, having seen a host of luxurious arrivals which managed to get fans chins up and saw them unusually optimistic.

The biggest surprise from Arsenal was the offloading of Alex Iwobi to Everton, who had become the odd man out in Emery’s future plans because of the dearth of wingers at his disposal.

For Arsenal it was imperative to get points on the board after Manchester City’s emphatic and stylish win over West Ham and dropping points early wasn’t an option.

So Arsenal rocked up to a wet Newcastle knowing that the home support was worth a two goal advantage and that despite a rollercoaster of a few months, a result would be hard to get.

It turned out to be a decidedly average and uninspiring first half for Arsenal, where both sides cancelled each other out and squandered limited opportunities. One lost count on the amount of sloppy passes and Newcastle surrendered the midfield area, allowing Arsenal to exert a degree of authority, even it it wasn’t reflected in a handsome scoreline.

People go on about possession like it’s an essential ingredient for winning a game, it isn’t. We’ve all seen games where dominant teams have come off second best in the final minutes of a game. I prefer goals to possession, try telling me 80% possession is better than a 3 goal advantage, because we all know it’s not.

Arsenal enjoyed 60+% in the first half and 70+% in the second but couldn’t find a way through. As for Newcastle, they couldn’t provide support for their attacking players which they will have to resolve soon unless they want more stop away fans than the 4,000 or so that protested for this game.

The contest was won by a single goal (58) with a excellent piece of theft from Maitland Nile’s on Willems. He knows only too well to look up for one of Arsenal’s advancing guns and found Aubameyang with a beautiful chip. The striker just applied his usual predatory finish over Dubravka.

For Arsenal, there were a few highlights and lowlights. Ceballos looked useful with some artistic flourishes, Pepe came on to give a small glimpse of what is to come and Joe Willock looked like the heir apparent to a permanent midfield role.

Ainsley Maitland Nile’s worked tirelessly, although there were a few touches he’d like to forget and Reiss Nelson is making progress to hold down a first team slot.

However, Henrikh Mkhitaryan looks like Manchester United’s revenge for a misfiring Alexis Sanchez. He did his claim for a starting position at Arsenal no good with his dubious touch, lack of control and general ponderous performance.

READ MORE : SHOCKING: Alex Iwobi Departs For Premier League Side

Nacho Monreal still looks far too slow for the premiership and once his replacement is fit and well, the Spaniard may have to look at a more central role. He just doesn’t have the legs and struggles to get back like he used to.

As a first game of the season for Arsenal, this game gives no indication of how the campaign will go. Arsenal need to find the right balance between defence, midfield and attack and Newcastle need a plan that prevents them losing these types of games.

Bruce would have been happy with a point to relieve the pressure but even survival in the Benitez style must seem some distance away.
There was some promise but not enough to suggest that the Geordies are not looking at another season with their heads in a noose on a three legged chair.

3 vital points for Emery but the training ground environment will need to rid the gunners of their rough edges. Arsenal can’t afford any early hiccups if they are to be included in the mix next year.

Draws have to become wins and loses need to be fashioned into wins or draws but the fact remains that Arsenal can’t afford more than 5 draws in a season, if they are to be in with a shout of a champions league slot. City and Liverpool are going toe to toe again, Arsenal need to bring their A game to the second tier at the top.

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Arsenal have every reason to be very confident of a successful season

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As things stand right now Arsenal is second in the standings behind Liverpool on goal difference and even though the season is just two games old and we have not faced a top-six rival there is still plenty of reasons to be very confident that this campaign will be a successful one.

Let’s get the obvious out of the way first, Burnley and Newcastle were easy pickings, I accept that and I know full well that the upcoming games against Liverpool and Tottenham are the real test but that is not what this article is about.

While our first two opponents were hardly the most testing opponents it has to be noted that in the first game it could be argued that as many as six or seven first-team players were missing and even in the game against Burnley there were significant player absences.

But putting the quality of the opponents to one side there is a lot to feel good about as we gear up to face much sterner opposition.

Dani Ceballos has already strengthened the midfield and looks like he could be the replacement for Aaron Ramsey we have been looking for, he also has that Santi Cazorla feel about him and the energy he has brought to the team is clear to see. I have no doubts he will give both Spurs and Liverpool a torrid time.


Lucas Torreira, Mesut Ozil and even Nicolas Pepe have yet to stamp their mark on the season and when those three start clicking in their respective positions the team will be even stronger.

The defence will be far stronger soon as well, David Luiz will become more settled, Monreal is playing like a new signing and Kieran Tierney, Rob Holding and Hector Bellerin should all be back by the time October comes to a close.

This Arsenal team has yet to realise its full potential and as each game passes they are getting closer and closer to showing what they are truly capable of.

I am not saying we are title contenders though I am not ruling it out either but I am saying that there is every reason to feel confident that we will do a lot better than last season and from where I am sat, the evidence is there already that my confidence is justified.


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Arsenal fans will love what Dani Ceballos said after ‘special’ Gunners debut vs Burnley

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Arsenal beat Burnley 2-1 on Saturday as the Spaniard made his debut for the Gunners.

The Real Madrid loanee set up goals for both Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, as Unai Emery’s side won their second game in a row.

The 23-year-old midfielder, who is expected to return to Spain when the season finishes, has spoken out about his dream debut.

He told Arsenal’s official website: “The most important thing in football is to win.

“When you have a great game and can help the team to get the victory, you feel satisfaction to know that you’re going home calmly and with the work done.

“The truth is that for me it has been one of the most special days of my life.

“I think that by starting at home with a win, and with this passion shown at the end of the match, I think it will be hard for me to forget this day.”

Arsenal fans also supplied the new boy with a chant as his impressed at the Emirates, for which he has praised supporters.

He said about the chant: ”For me it is a great pride.

“I really want this year to truly demonstrate the football that I have inside.

“I have a lot of enthusiasm for this season and to be able to give a lot of joy to these people.

“The confidence they have in me, I want to return it to them with my performances.”

After the clash, Match of the Day pundit Danny Murphy raved over Ceballos’ performance, and praised Arsenal for bringing him in on loan.

“They’ve got themselves a player here,” Murphy said.

“He’s got the lot really for a midfielder.

“He’s creative, he wants the ball all the time, which is what I want to see.”

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My Top Ten Favourite Arsenal Kits – What’s yours?

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So, let’s be honest the new Arsenal kit launch could not have gone better for all parties. On the day of the first release there were talks of not buying any shirts as a way of protesting against Stan Kroenke. A month later sales have been so good that Adidas are ready to release a 4th kit.

The idea that Arsenal have already been paid hence it doesn’t matter how much merchandise is brought is a myth. The more money they make, the more Mr. Adidas is willing to offer when it’s time to renew the contract. Alternatively, if the product wasn’t shifting, you’re going to struggle to find a company willing to hand over 300 million.

Since I watched football though, I have rarely heard gooners so impressed by a manufacturer’s work, to the point I think they would be angry if we changed sponsors in the immediate future. Now this list will be subjective, no right and wrong (not including the latest kit)…

A lot might depend on your age and of course how successful the team were at the time. Some like to keep things simple yet there’s nothing worse than feeling obliged to cash out your money on the same red shirt you owned for 12 months, where the only difference might be a line.

I should stress Puma will not feature as I didn’t have the body building physique, they were clearly marketed for. I know you can buy the version which isn’t as tight but sorry I don’t pay 60 pounds to remind myself I’m not as fit as I used to be.

10- Purple away


Okay I know some don’t like when our kits abandon tradition, but sometimes it can get boring when shirts look exactly the same. Plus a few years without wearing yellow you appreciate it more when it returns. Whisper it quietly, I didn’t actually buy this shirt but instead spent more on a fleece which I still wear to this day. The colour scheme seemed popular with those who didn’t know without seeing the canyon it was football themed, always a good sign

9- Blue Away

Some shirts just look really good on the players, but don’t quite work for us modern folk. I like my arms in long sleeves, so this always felt like a comfy pajama top rather then something I could kick a ball around in. I added the gloves but really wasn’t skillful enough to pull it off.

8- White Kit

I know some instincts where it was white and therefore just not a colour you associate with Arsenal. Yet all of that is taken away by the cranberry collar, sleeves and shorts making this a trendy shirt more then just a decent footie shirt. Maybe it’s what age you were at the time, but this was the first football shirt I owned which girls thought looked smart, so …. I guess…

7- Blue Anniversary Shirt

Is it me or did Football go through a phase where they wanted shirts to be smart as much as on the pitch but also something you could wear casually? Quite a comfy fit with an original badge to celebrate our anniversary, perhaps doesn’t get enough credit for a really poor squad who had to wear it. I’m still trying to work out how we got in the top 4 that year.

6- Yellow Away

Sometime less is more. There’s something classic about modern day doing retro and here’s an example. They haven’t played around by adding a blue or grey stripe, simply bright, yellow, bright blue, stripe socks, iconic Arsenal.

5- Yellow Invincible

Now this was yellow, as yellow as you can be. So yellow you were self-conscious nipping to your corner shop because to non-football fans you were just wearing a really yellow shirt and not many of us can pull it off. Again, though it’s iconic and one of the final times we stuck with the baggy color. Plus, if my electric meter ran out of money, I still had light!

4- Arsenal 2000-02

For no other reason then the first shirt I was brought as a child. I’m sure we all have that memory which would be nice to share in the comments…

3 Gold

The first time I saw Arsenal be original without going over the top, fitting the red and blue in. Okay let’s be honest, to wear gold you need to have the right team to pull it off. Gold doesn’t work if your finishing 10th in the League.

2 Home Invincibles

So, there’s only so much you can do to your home shirt as we are associated with red and white. If your going to do it make it basic, red shirt, white sleeves, sponsors. Don’t change the collar or add a stripe just to sell a new version. If I had to pick one, of course I’m going to pick the one worn by our greatest ever side.

1 – Cranberry

Will divide opinion as some will insist our home kit always be red and white while others will appreciate the originality. It was never important to me to have the names and numbers on the back but Henry was my exception. I have to say the gold lettering over the Cranberry was stunning. As I got older, it’s the one kit I never throw out as it reminds me of happier times.

Henry, Highbury …… you don’t realize what you have until it’s gone, I guess ….

Be nice in the comments

Dan Smith


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