Arsenal's First Month

Surely a lot has been written and will continue to be written about Arsenal’s ability to compete for real silverware this season. Beating the Boltons, Blackpools, and Bragas of the world convincingly at home is not going to alarm Chelsea or Man U nor should it. Until they prove themselves worthy against the big boys, there will rightfully be plenty of questions about the bunch. Chief among them the lack of depth up the spine of the club (a serious injury to Cesc, Song, or Vermaelen cripples this group) and the lack of mental and physical toughness to sustain a title campaign through May. There can be no doubt however about the quality of the performances since Cesc found his legs. While there will hopefully be many tense games in the Gunners’ future, it has been fun as a fan to just enjoy the soccer produced at the Emirates in the last two matches. My thoughts on the first month of Arsenal’s season:

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Them's the breaks

First off, credit to United. The reason they’ve won the league the last few years is that they find a way to get points when they’re not playing well and yesterday was no different. Foster made a huge save early in the second half to keep them in it. On United’s first goal, Rooney knew the best way to get a goal was to go down easily and make the referee face the scorn of the crowd and Fergie (exactly the same as Kobe or Lebron driving to the paint, forcing contact, and then making the referee make a decision); he then calmly sank the penalty. The second goal was pure luck and they did enough to capitalize on that and take all three points.

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TV for the weekend

Arsenal/Man U highlights the week, La Liga returns, and great games in all three other big Euro leagues (AC/ Inter in Italy, Marseille/Bordeaux in France, Bayern/Wolfsburg in Germany)

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Arsenal's good start continues

Arseblog has a thorough recap of yesterday's impressive 4-1 win over Portsmouth with links to an interesting Arshavin interview (and the awesome photo below) and Wenger's post-game thoughts.

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TV for the upcoming week

Second weekend of EPL (multiple games in HD!), return legs of the Champions League, and the Italian flopping begins.

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So, that was fun

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Arsenal round-up plus fascinating Wenger interview

Enough with the season previews (Arseblog has the best Arsenal season preview I read) and baseless transfer talk, let's get it going. We'll be able to tell pretty quickly about the capabilities of this Arsenal squad. They play at Everton, Celtic, and Man U in the first two weeks of the season. There will be a lot of pressure on Wenger to make some signings if the team disappoints in these first few encounters (especially at the much-discussed center-mid and center-back positions).

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TV for the weekend

The EPL gets going this weekend and has around round of games at mid-week. There is still uncertainty about the 6:45 Saturday morning game; let's hope Setanta and ESPN2 work it out. Also, Fox starts their Champions League coverage this week, highlighted by Arsenal/Celtic live in HD on FSN this Tuesday at 1:30.

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Reasons American sports fans might also like soccer

I want to take a softer approach to getting Americans into soccer than the EplTalk article that Faletti expounded upon earlier today. As a bit of background, I am a huge American sports fan and got into soccer recently (early 2008). While I spend an inordinate amount of time following the Gunners, a title for the Longhorns in football or basketball would still mean more to me than Cesc holding a trophy in May. I just have more invested in those fandoms than I will ever have with soccer.

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Five things that must happen for Arsenal to win the title

Even the most optimistic Arsenal fan will admit that a lot of things will have to go just right for the team to compete for the Premiership this year. Oddsmakers have them a distant fourth favorite to win the title, closer to Manchester City than the rest of the Big Three. This is for good reason; last season, the club’s ambitions had turned to merely securing a fourth place spot by mid-November. It took a healthy collapse by Aston Villa down the stretch and the addition of Andrei Arshavin at the end of the winter transfer window to get that position.

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