Making your way through airport security with two young kids is never fun, but doing it while Arsenal are doing their best to throw away a two-goal lead on the opening weekend of the new season is down right excruciating.
That was pretty much how things went for me yesterday. Frantically refreshing my Twitter feed while slowly edging through the chaos that was Faro airport on a Saturday afternoon in August.
At check-in, all was fine. Arsenal were 2-0 up and cruising to three points. But once I hit security, it all started to go wrong. The kids of course started to play up and then Forest set up the grandstand finish 1,500 miles away in north London when Taiwo Awoniyi pulled a goal back.
The next 15 minutes or so were spent waiting for what felt like the inevitable. There were other Arsenal fans around me and all of them had the same pained expression on their faces while looking at their phones.
Thankfully, there was no equaliser. The ‘Goal – Forest make it 2-2’ tweet never materialised.
As I walked into duty free the full-time whistle went and I could relax, safe in the knowledge that all three points were in the bag.
And let’s face it, on the opening day that’s all that matters. Especially when you are at home.
You want to get up and running as quickly as possible and Arsenal did that, even if they did end up making far harder work of it than they probably should have, given the position they had put themselves in at half-time.
I’m not going to spend ages going over the game because I didn’t see it. I’ve seen the highlights now and there were positives and negatives. But having seen Arsenal throughout pre-season that is no real surprise.
Last summer it was obvious that Arsenal were ready to hit the ground running. The performances leading up to that game at Palace made that clear.
This year it’s been different. It’s been a bit hit and miss. Arsenal have looked a lot more like a team who have yet to hit top gear.
There are new faces and new systems being worked on. Players are still getting used to each other, partnerships are still being formed.
It’s going to take some time for everything to click and the most important thing during these next few weeks is just to continue finding a way to win, even if the performances aren’t the best.
And it’s not like Arsenal were bad yesterday. It looked like there was lots to like from the first half performance. Martinelli was electric at times and Saka’s goal was a thing of beauty.
Declan Rice seemed to settle in well and Eddie got his goal, which should do him the world of good while Gabriel Jesus remains on the sidelines.
The big negative was the injury to Jurrien Timber. He’s had a very good summer and it sounded like he was playing well again before he had to go off.
We now wait to find out the severity of his knee injury and fingers crossed it’s nothing serious because he has made a huge impact so far.
The failure to kill Forest off is a slight concern. Arsenal paid the price for not doing that to teams last season and they can’t afford to fall into that trap again this time around.
It’s also another home game without a clean sheet. The amount of goals they scored at the other end ensured that ultimately wasn’t too much of a problem last season, but it would be good for the heart rate if they could improve on that side things in 2023/24.
But for now, let’s just enjoy the fact that the season has started with three points safely tucked away.
It’s been a nice couple of weeks for me with the family in Portugal, but I’m back at it now so you’ll be able to get all the usual stuff from me, on here, on YouTube and via the podcast.
The batteries have been suitably recharged and I’m looking forward to what the next nine months will bring.
1 down, 37 to go!