Sunday, 18 August 2013

Arsenal 1 - 3 Aston Villa [Emirates Stadium, London]

The 22nd Premier League Season officially began yesterday. For some, it was Liverpool's early kickoff victory over Stoke that started the campaign, but for myself and most of the people reading this, 3pm (BST!) was the time to focus on, as Arsenal faced yet another Emirates opener to Aston Villa.

Arsenal's new 3rd choice Left-Back (me!)
I had the privilege of attending this match in person at The Emirates Stadium, and why not? What better place to commence the GOTR adventure than the home of Arsenal itself? Another reason for visiting in person of course, was to pick up my new shirt! I was just expecting a quick handover in the Armoury (the official club merchandise store) or something to that effect. Instead, I got the chance to do what not a lot of people ever do; I walked down the tunnel, onto the pitch and got a photo or two with my shirt, 'new signing' style. It was a huge, huge moment for me, and I was grinning from ear-to-ear.

The grin didn't last for long. After that once-in-a-lifetime, schoolboy dream moment, I completely forgot that we had a game to play, and that I was there to watch and not participate. Yes, I know some of you thought I was going to be on the bench as a replacement to the outgoing Andre Santos, but I'm afraid that was all just a bit of a joke. I'm sorry to get your hopes up.

This was a game that I, like many others, would care to forget - but unfortunately because of the moment immediately preceding those 90 minutes, I doubt I ever will.
"I've been shot in the face!"

Yes, we went up after 6 minutes courtesy of Super-G, but the rest of the game was a nightmare - we didn't finish our dinner, we got bossed around the park (as per usual), decisions went against us, players went off injured, and when we needed a route out, we didn't have any options because our squad is paper thin

What I could also see (which is sometimes easier when you're at the game in person as opposed to watching it on TV) is that we looked knackered after 45 minutes. Whilst a good portion of our players had stupid internationals to play the week before the Premier League kickoff, (the organiser of which should be shot in public) it doesn't look like Aston Villa had nearly as many. Not being one to look for excuses here, I reckon that was one of many contributors to our loss, and the main difference (aside from an extra 2 men, ref included) between the two teams.

The other contributor was the aforementioned thin squad. We need to buy, and we need to buy quick. Personally, I have no problem with panic-buying (something else that I would usually disagree with). We need to go out and lock down some experienced Premier League talent for our defensive positions, players that can work in multiple roles. Obviously, we could see that Sagna can't play left-back (if Wenger chose me to sit on their bench like I asked, I would have nailed it), and neither Ramsey, Rosicky or Wilshere can be the enforcer sitting in front of the back four. We need somebody who can mop up a mess and play all over the park. Song, Gilberto and even Viera could play DMF or CB and still make a name for themselves with the odd goal and assist.

So, to summarise yesterday, I would say it was a day for me to remember and others to forget.

Prague - city of a thousand mediocre football teams
On the GOTR front, I'm off to Prague on Monday to start the European stint. I will be staying with Gooner Andy Hunt and his girlfriend Sarah - both of whom I've never met in my life, but it's all part of the #GoonerFamily spirit and I should get used to it. I am promised by many that I will love this city, and I'm sure I will. I'll be watching the first leg of the UCL Playoff against Fenerbahce. Hopefully we'll get a result in Turkey - if not my itinerary for North America is screwed as I've already booked most of my intercity transport on a Thursday (the same week day that Channel 5 gets its biggest viewership, if you know what I mean).

Finally, and most importantly for me and many others, please remember to donate to my fundraiser here.

Until next time.

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