A year ago today I was still in London, feeling increasingly nervous and excited about my fast approaching move to Sydney. One of the sacrifices made when moving to Sydney was The Arsenal. I’d been attending games since 1990, a season ticket holder since 1997, and hadn’t missed a home game since August 2006. And there I was, not only counting down to pastures new, but also to my final home game for a little while, our opening game of the season at home to Sunderland.
With all those thoughts and emotions, floating about in my head, I decided to create a blog. Having previously written for The Gooner Fanzine on the odd occasion, my logic was that it would provide a more regular platform for sharing my views, expressing my feelings, and to help cope with the absence of match day attendance. It was my way of feeling a little closer to all things Arsenal. And so ‘That Sums It All Up’ was born.
It’s been a whirlwind year, both for The Arsenal and for me. For the former another captain was sold, another up and down season was endured, another last-ditch fourth place finish was secured. For the latter a new country, a new home, a new job, new friends, the joys of visas, and one very special Australian lady in my life.
It’s been an emotional, but extremely fun ride. I haven’t always had the time to write as often as I would like, but have done my best to share the journey with you. My stay in Sydney continues and so another season without Arsenal match days is about to begin, when we kick things off against Aston Villa on Saturday. ‘That Sums It All Up’ will continue, with my new season resolution being to write more frequently and, if possible, to provide my match reports and views a little more promptly so they stay as relevant as possible. So, let the 2013/14 fun begin!
Pre-season finished in a positive fashion, with an impressive and confidence boosting 3-1 victory over Manchester City. Both the performance and result are continuations of our end of season form. Many forget that from January 1st 2013 only Man United won more league points than us, and that since the end of February nobody has. It was our early season form that let us down badly, following another summer of uncertainty.
This time there has been no uncertainty, at least not from an outgoing perspective. The core of our squad remains stable and solid, with the only exits being deadwood and those Arsene has been happy to let go. So our core remains, and it is one which is much better than people give credit. There is some real quality there and an apparent fight and togetherness that has been lacking in some recent seasons past. But the fact remains this core group of players is very thin, both in terms of numbers and also waistline now that Arshavin and Santos have departed. We need more depth.
After years of struggle and hard work we finally have a good platform on which to build and the resources with which to do it. I don’t want to tread over old ground, you can read my last post (On A Knife’s Edge) for my thoughts on what I believe needs to be done between now and deadline day. All we can do is sit, wait, and hope that Arsene recruits the players so desperately needed.
We’ve been out of contention before things have really begun the last two seasons, we can’t afford for it to happen again, especially with a tough Champions League qualifier coming up against Fenerbahce. So here’s hoping for a positive start to the season and three points on Saturday. I will be watching the game with my Dad, as he and Mum are currently here in Sydney visiting. Watching on television, at midnight, sat side by side on the sofa certainly won’t be the same as being in our seats in the North Bank upper, but we’ll both be as loud and as passionate as ever. Up The Arsenal, come on you Gunners!!
Oh, and Happy 1st Birthday ‘That Sums It All Up’.