The transfer business was ambitious. Signing Rice, Havertz, and Timber signalled that we were serious about building on last season’s promise, that we weren’t satisfied with failing to stay above quadruple-winning Man City, imperious as they still are, despite De Bruyne’s injury and advancing age. However, the early returns suggest that we may find ourselves fighting for scraps and leftovers. If we fall any further behind, well….
It’s early days, of course, what with this marking matchday #4, but Man City have already laid down a marker, taking all 12 points thus far. At our end, of course, we dropped points at home to Fulham, which in and of itself is hardly fatal given Silva’s nous. But for a dodgy Man City goal in first-half stoppage time, when a clearly offside Akanji seemed to interfere with Ake’s goal-bound header, even though Leno’s reaction was definitely affected by Akanji’s presence. The wheels came off off in the second half as City won 5-1, but the impact of that controversial goal should be clear. Squads as deep and as expensive as this one should not be offered such advantages.
We go into this match againt Man U with our backs already up against it. Man City show no signs of taking their foot off the gas, and we’ve stumbled out of the gates. Injuries to Zinchenko, Jesus, Timber, and now Partey have shorn us of key players at the worst of times. Even a fairly favourable Champions League group stage draw seems to offer precious little balm to the soul as we ponder our prospects. Will we have to call upon Cedric to play RB? Can we count on Havertz to rise to the occasion?
I’m not usually this pessimistic, and I apologise. It feels like we need an emphatic win over Man U. They themselves are out of sorts, but a result seems to signify more than just a chance at getting one over on one of our biggest rivals. At the moment, it feels like we’re pinned back, that there’s already a yawning chasm opening between us and the top of the table. We’re against the ropes, and we have to land a haymaker even if it’s not against the club we’re hoping to clobber.
I hope Arteta gets it right. I hope the lads bring the fight.