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Russell Berrisford

Russell Berrisford

Russell’s support of Derby County eventually led him to leave the country. He has lived in Canada since 2007 and currently writes about soccer for The Vancouver Sun.


It’s a Sprint Not a Marathon

Written by on June 30, 2011 | 1 Comment »
Posted in English Premier League, General

Can it really be only a few short weeks until the Premier league kicks off again?

It certainly can, and whilst most supporters spend this time of year idly looking through transfer rumours and fretting about which playmaking midfielder will either join or leave their club, there is one set of fans who must already be viewing the start of the season with an air of trepidation.

To say that the previous campaign ended badly for Arsenal is an understatement. They not only slipped rapidly out of title contention but also allowed themselves to be passed by Manchester City in the battle for third place, meaning that they now have to play two August qualifying round games to progress to the lucrative Group stage of the competition.

That wouldn’t be such bad news taken in isolation but their first three EPL fixtures in the same month will also test the nerves of a club that is probably at its most unsettled for years.

They face Newcastle at St James Park on opening day, Liverpool at home in their next match and then travel to Old Trafford for what is always one of the biggest games of the year. By the beginning of September we will almost certainly know a lot more about how bright their future looks.

The “Arsenal in Crisis” style headlines should be laughable of course. They have a great manager and, even in defeat, play the most attractive football in England, but maybe the high expectations that existed throughout much of the last campaign are coming back to haunt them.

For the first time there have been serious questions asked about Arsene Wenger and his ability to shape a winning team, and a new owner coupled with the expected summer transfer activity will add further to the sense that this may be a club in the midst of its own mini revolution.

There are rumours that Samir Nasri, Gael Clichy and (inevitably) Cesc Fabregas could all be on their way out of the Emirates and the unavoidable speculation about who will arrive (usually involving a big central defender and a goalkeeper) but in many ways all of that matters less than retaining the sense that this is still Wenger’s team that plays in Wenger’s way.

Maybe when the Frenchman does eventually leave Arsenal he will get the full credit for the genuinely remarkable achievement of consistently competing with clubs that vastly outspend him, but perhaps Arsenal fans now feel that the only solution is to spend big too, and that financial prudence can’t replace the trophies of other teams.

Whatever happens next season will be pivotal for the future of the club, and within that season August could well be the most important month of all.

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One response to “It’s a Sprint Not a Marathon”

  1. Great points Mr. Berrisford. I think the slow pace of leavings and comings will hurt Arsenal unless Wenger never planed to really sell nasri or cesc and just wants another go with them, with the addition of Gervinho and others.

    last year proved to me that the premier league may have only 6 teams at the top, but they will be battling each other the entire year for the prescious spots so who will win it all will be down to the wire again.

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