Arsenal have had a gruelling pre-season this summer to get into top gear for the start of the new Premiership season. We have had two games against top Australian opposition to break us in softly, then we have had two very difficult matches in the blistering heat of China against Bayern Munich and Chelsea. Now we face two Champions League contenders in Benfica and Sevilla this weekend, ahead of our rematch with Chelsea in the Community Shield next weekend.
We should be fit and ready for the start of the season, which is something we’ve lacked in previous years, and Theo Walcott reckons a win in the Emirates Cup can get us in the right frame of mind for the season opener. “It’s time to get in the right frame of mind, play against strong teams on a nice pitch, and just do the right things, the things that get you into the team,” Theo said on Arsenal.com. “You want to win as well, to get into the winning habit. We tend to have quite a good record at that.
“We’ve lost the opening game of the season over the past few years I think, so we need to make sure that pattern changes this year. We’re playing against strong teams in all the games we’re playing in pre-season, so there’s no excuse for a slow start.
“This team’s had ups and downs but we need to start well first. Starting well is the main priority and then we’ve got to push on from there.
“The manager has said that right from the first day here: make sure there’s a fast start. That’s why it’s important for us to play these bigger teams in pre-season, to be mentally ready and switched on. We need to get into good habits, that’s the main thing. It’s all about a positive start, and results will make that happen.”
The fact is that we can’t play our first XI in both matches so the 6 points is far from guaranteed, but we have a big enough squad to get good results on both days. Maybe we could play our Premier League XI in one match and our Europa League side in the other!
But Theo is right, we do need to get back into the winning habit after the loss to Chelsea, so let’s cheer on the team on both days, whoever is playing…