09 August 2005

Premiership 05/06

With the beginning of the league season fast approaching, I feel like I should really post a season preview or some such. But as a committed Arsenal fan, it's difficult to really give a decent preview. It really works out to be two sets of teams: Arsenal, and their opponents. So there's no chance of me offering a realistic assessment of the upcoming season; I'll evaluate it in terms of what I want to happen, rather than what is likely to happen, and what's the point of that?

I will probably adopt a secondary mascot team over the course of the season. Last year, it was Palace; I enjoyed their style of play and enjoyed reading Aki Rhiilati's columns. But there are two factors that make this kind of secondary affection possible. One, there is no question about who I root for when the 'other' team plays the Gunners... or even if a game impacts Arsenal in some way. And second, there's no way I could pull for any team that might possibly compete with Arsenal. So who will be my 'other' this year? Don't know yet. Teams with American players certainly draw my attention. I should pull for Blackburn, due to Brad Friedel, but there's still a Souness aftertaste that I can't shake. Maybe Fulham, due to Carlos Bocanegra and Brian McBride. We'll see.

There's a more complicated thought process that goes into assessing the lower divisions. I'm sure I'd have all kinds of preferences were I English, but it's all a blank slate for me, and so the small things have major impact. I'll be pulling for Palace to get re-promoted (though they're not off to a good start, are they?) Might also look for Reading (due to Marcus Hahnemann and Bobby Convey) or Sheffield Wednesday (due to Frankie Simek — obscure for a Yank, to be sure, but a former Gunner). I have a good friend who's from Plymouth, so I watch for them too. In any event, it's not a rational decision, so I'll wait to see what my heart tells me as the season presents itself.

Beyond the outcome of the actual games, there's one thing that must happen this season. I have to take the plunge and find a way to attend a game at Highbury. I've never been, and this is my last chance. I don't know how English fans see things, but for me it's as if this is the last year for Wrigley Field or Fenway Park. It's a palace of the sport, for me anyway, and I have to find a way to see a game there, before it's gone. Now I've never been to Great Britain, and only once to Europe. I'll end up traveling alone, and I have no idea how to find tickets. I've got a couple months to figure that out, and one way or another, I will. So if anyone has advice or suggestions, by all means, please let me know. Have passport, will travel.

So there's my season preview for you. Me in front of my TV, pulling for Arsenal in every way possible. Me choosing what to wear based on how it'll affect the Gunners. Me finding other amusing teams to track, so that I have opinions about days when Arsenal doesn't play. And me fantasizing about what a perfect day in North London would be like... then scraping together some cash and making at least part of it happen.

I'll keep you posted.

Sad thing is, Tottenham are having a good one thus far.
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