Good morning. Arsenal face Blackpool later on in their first home game of the new season. It's a game which Arsenal can be justifiably confident of taking three points from, but the danger of taking a win for granted is one that has been shown to Arsenal several times over the last couple of years.
The loss at home to Hull City a couple of years ago springs to mind. Arsenal turned up that day thinking that their mere appearance would be enough to secure three points and the result was that they were beaten by a team that was more motivated, worked harder, and had more fight than them on the day.
The danger of underestimating Blackpool is one that has been shown repeatedly over the last couple of months. Tipped for relegation from the Championship last season, Blackpool amazed the nation by qualifying for, and then winning the playoffs. Their semifinal second leg away at Nottingham Forest was one of the most entertaining games of football I've seen this year.
Now that fans have had time to digest and get used to the idea of Blackpool in the Premier League, perhaps the scale of their achievement in getting there has been forgotten a little bit, but the fact remains they have done fantastically well to get to where they are.
They have a good manager in Ian Holloway, whom I think is a very clever man indeed. I think he likes to give off this impression of being a bit of an oddball so that people underestimate him, and it obviously works. He has taken a team into the top flight that wouldn't have dared to dream of that sort of accomplishment.
As you can probably tell, I have a lot of time for Blackpool, but obviously today they play Arsenal and that puts them on the opposite side to me. As much as I may like Blackpool for what they've done and how they've done it, there are three points up for grabs today and only one team can take all of them.
It's far from a forgone conclusion that Arsenal will win. Blackpool have nothing to lose, and they like to play a bit of football rather than stick 11 men behind the ball. They will know that Arsenal's defence is not exactly impregnable and that will encourage them to have a go.
On the injury front, it looks good for Arsenal. In addition to Robin Van Persie, it looks like Cesc Fabregas, Alex Song, and Johan Djourou will be playing some part today, which should give the team more than enough to trouble Blackpool with.
As long as Arsenal turn up today fully focused, I think they'll take three points. But if they turn up and think they've already won, I think they could be in for a tough afternoon.
I will be in attendance this afternoon so naturally I'm hoping to see a big win, but I really don't see it happening. I think Arsenal might well win by a comfortable margin, but I think anyone who thinks this is going to be a cricket score could well be disappointed.
There's no significant news on the transfer front this morning. The situations with Squillaci and Schwarzer don't seem to have moved forward. The manager did a bit of talking about William Gallas in his press conference yesterday in light of his move to Spurs.
It's not the same sort of situation as when Sol Campbell moved the opposite way on a free transfer. Campbell, much as Spurs fans might try to deny it now, was a popular figure at Spurs. He was their captain and the heart and soul of their team. That's why his decision to move to us caused such massive outrage among them.
Arsenal fans can relate. Why do we hate Ashley Cole so much? Because he grew up at Arsenal, was an Arsenal fan as a boy, and was one of our own, and he shafted the club for the sake of money and joined Chelsea.
It's not the same with Gallas. Yes, he was club captain for a while, but he was never an Arsenal man, as it were. He was never one of our own, and knowing him as we fans do, it's just not a surprise or a shock that he'd move to Spurs.
He'll get a tasty reception from the Arsenal fans when Gallas crosses their path again, I've no doubt, but it's not the same as the situation with Ashley Cole, or the way Spurs fans feel about Sol Campbell. Gallas would have had to have been one of our own for that, and good footballer though he may be I think was always been recognised for the mercenary he is during his time at Arsenal.
Right then, prematch rituals and suchlike to do. Come on the Arsenal!
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