Wednesday 3rd August 2011
With the incredible media coverage of pre-season matches these days we can be forgiven for forgetting that they are no more than part of our overall preparation. Five matches in and every half of football has seen considerable team changes as our entire squad moves closer to their peak fitness in time for the opening day of the real stuff. With Highbury still fresh in most of our minds it seems incredible that the weekend just gone saw the fifth Emirates Cup.
For me, I enjoy taking a look around the stadium and people watching on this particular weekend, safe in the knowledge I will be taking my seat experiencing absolutely none of the stress and other emotions we all go through each and every week of the season. It's simply a time to enjoy the sunshine, meet with Gooner friends and watch some enjoyable, if a little low-key, football.
This season's felt probably the most laid back so far with my memories being made up of dominating both of our games for at least an hour and, of course, the return of a player who very much warrants the perhaps overused label of 'Arsenal Legend'.
The memories of his sometimes quite awesome performances and goals came flooding back as he made his way around the pitch and, for that reason alone, I went home happy with my weekend trip.
Saturday sees our final game before the real stuff begins and a highly-attractive trip to the Portuguese capital city.
Before that, of course, we will find out on Friday who will stand in our way from yet another year in the Champions League. As I write these thoughts our possible opponents have been reduced to nine. By late tonight that will be down to five.
Of those who are arguably favourites to progress after the first-leg results, I quite fancy a trip to Zurich or Udinese, mainly due to them being destinations I haven't visited before. A trip back to Odense, the only team we can definitely draw after their victory last night and first visited back in 1993, would be kind of interesting too.
Wherever it may be it will give me something to think about while enjoying the Portuguese sunshine and local wares....
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