Those who wanted to avoid the prospect of getting back to playing the beautiful game need to open their eyes and realise that Project Restart is hell-bent on happening – regardless of whether or not we feel weird about it. The best estimate is that we’re going to have football back in our lives in England around the midway point of June, and if it’s any later than that, then perhaps we need to start asking a few more questions.
Arsenal appear to be preparing well for that as contact training returns and Mikel Arteta attempts to assemble a fully fit squad for what is bound to be an incredibly busy summer of football if all goes to plan. Nobody really knows how well or badly it’s all going to go, so for the time being, all we can do is wait and see.
Today, we’re going to take a look at the two sides who could serve as Arsenal’s first opponents back based on how the schedule falls – Manchester City and Brighton & Hove Albion.
You want to introduce a surge of momentum when you’re coming off the back of an extended absence, and a game against City isn’t the way to do that. Arteta going up against Guardiola would make for an interesting clash of styles, but if we’re talking purely from a logical standpoint, nobody wants the reigning Champions of England to be our first game back.
It’s great if you want to be brave by thinking that walking into the lion’s den is a wonderful idea, but it’s not. The Gunners need to ease their way back into life in the Premier League, because confidence is going to be so important – especially without a home crowd to rely on.
The Seagulls were really struggling by the time that the league was suspended, and while they may have bucked up their ideas since then, this is still the most feasible match for Arsenal if they want to get back to winning ways – which they obviously do.
Brighton have stung Arsenal in the past, but the Gunners are far superior going forward and should be able to impose themselves with relative ease.
Arsenal will have to play both of these teams anyway, but the order in which they do so could dictate what kind of first month back we see in North London.
Who will Arsenal’s return game be against?