The way I see it - Arsenal v Everton

Last updated : 15 August 2003 By Jason Hogan

Still, at least we did make two major signings this week and in many respects they could prove to be the best ones made anywhere this summer.

Patrick Vieira and Robert Pires finally put pen to paper on new contracts that will keep them at the club until 2007 and 2006 respectively.

Now this may sound a little cynical in the light of what is supposed to be good news but, in getting them both to sign up, Arsenal have not only guaranteed that there is a sense of continuity within the team they have also given themselves some financial stability too (particularly where Vieira is concerned).

You see, deep down inside my own mind I cannot see Vieira staying until 2007. In fact, I'm not entirely sure that he will be wearing an Arsenal shirt this time next year. Now that he is under contract however, Arsenal will be in a position to say to a potential buyer (i.e. Real Madrid) that if they want Vieira then you will have to come up with a serious amount of money.

Still, that's a bridge we will have to cross if and when we come to it and I think that we Arsenal fans are better off concentrating on the present, where we have some scores to settle, rather than the future.

Which brings me nicely round to Saturday's game and our opponents, Everton.

I suppose the $64,000 question that you would ask about Everton coming into this season is can they improve on last year's excellent campaign or was it just a flash in the pan?

Some Evertonians would tell you straight off that with a certain 17 year old (you know, THAT one) being on their books the sky is the limit.

At the same time, David Moyes hasn't been able to strengthen his squad as yet though he has signed Joseph Yobo and Li Tie on a permanent basis and by all accounts, he has a 50-50 chance of landing Fulham's Sean Davis as well.

I understand that the boy wonder is still struggling with an ankle problem and that Arsenal old boy Kevin Campbell, who has hamstring trouble, will also be on the sidelines.

With Duncan Ferguson suspended as well, Everton appear to be rather thin on the ground for strikers – not quite though. Moyes will still be able to call on Tomas Radzinski and Nick Chadwick.

Now I will tell all Arsenal fans this for nothing - do not under estimate this young chap, Chadwick. I saw this chap play once or twice last year. He's a very mobile striker who is not afraid to put himself about and he could potentially be a decent foil for Radzinski.

So, it's going to be important that the chaps at the back for Arsenal do not think that they can take liberties because aside from the front two, Everton will pose a threat from set pieces – and we all know what happened in Cardiff as a result of one of those.

Having said that, I thought that Kolo Toure generally did okay alongside Campbell at the heart of our defence.

I thought that it was highly significant that he was drafted in to play in preference to Pascal Cygan (has Wenger finally started to see the light?). Not many people can say that they have kept Ruud Van Nistledive as quiet as he did and if he can do that then there's no reason why he cannot do a similar job against virtually anyone else.

All in all I think that this is a very good opening game for the Arsenal. They will face an Everton side that will be combative and will make us earn the right to play.

There has been a lot said about Arsenal's supposed demise in the press and the media. Now the players have their chance to do their talking where it really matters - on the pitch.

Come on you Gunners!!!!!!