Date:Friday August 18 2006
Saturday 19th August
It's been a long time since I looked forward to a new season with this much anticipation & excitment. Ok, so Arsene Wenger hasn't exactly blown the world apart with extravagance & massive transfer fee's but I'm still optomistic about this coming campaign.
Last season we suffered tremendously with injuries (I'm not making excuses but anyone would struggle with an injury list that size) but it enabled the younger players in our squad to gain valuable experience that they wouldn't have otherwise gotten. I feel due to this, players like Cesc Fabregas, Manu Eboue, Phileppe Senderos & Johan Djourou will be like new signings themselves this year. The fact that Mr Wenger played young Johan in Zagreb just shows the trust he has in his players and it also looks like a certain balding French centre back has taken a step down the pecking order.
However, Wenger's solitary signing really looks the business, as soon as he put on the magic red & white shirt he fit in instantly and his style of football is a perfect match for the mighty Gunners. His performance in Zagreb was slick, smooth and compact, he possesses the ability to play a quick & crisp passing game in abnormally tight areas that I am sure will prove deadly around the edge of the oppo's penalty box.
Our first visitors to our new home are Aston Villa, usually 3 easy points on our own turf and when the fixtures were announced I was thrilled to know that we could be seeing a boat load of goals and another demolition that compared to last seasons awesome display, but now I'm not so sure.
Every team who is under the guidance of a new manager seems to pull a rabbit out of the hat and gain results no matter what team they put out, just to give the new gaffer a good impression. Inevitably after a few games they fall at the wayside and return to their old habits and ways, but this time it's different. In Martin O'Neil I feel Villa have landed a manager who can take them places, and with the
"We have had no bad news from the internationals apart from too many players played the whole game. We play three times in a week, add in the international, that means we play four times at the beginning of the season. I will have to make choices. I`ll have to find the right mixture between people who have played the internationals and those who have not played."
No change in the long term injuries, Abou Diaby [ankle], Gael Clichy [foot], Philippe Senderos [shoulder] all still a long way returning. Ljungberg will miss out & Wenger will make late decisions on Thierry Henry & Jose Reyes after they played the full 90 minutes in midweek.
Last season, the boy became a man. He terrorised Zagreb last week, scoring a brace. The only thing the litte man lacked last season was goals. Lets see if he can add to that this term.
Milan Baros, Wilfred Bouma and Gary Cahill will all miss out.
I think Villa as a collective will be more dangerous than anyone of their players. No disrespect intended but no single player stands out as the match winner for me.
I'll go with a hard fought 2-1 victory for the mighty Gunners.
Graham Poll - Keep and eye on his yellow card!!!
Arsenal v Dinamo Zagreb
Date:Friday August 18 2006
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