The weekend trips to garden centres, the new-found temporary interest in Formula One of all sports and the sheer confusion at what an earth you can do with yourself is all about to end, with the FA Community Shield 2015 taking place this weekend as the official curtain raiser for the new Premier League season.
And what a cracker of a game in store at Wembley Stadium, as Premier League champions Chelsea face off against their arch London rivals and FA Cup victors Arsenal in a game that has been billed by many as anything but a friendly.
A long time ago, Chelsea were considered just another London side for the Gunners, with Tottenham receiving the main dish of hate with more than a few side plates of insults.
However, in 2015, while Arsenal collectively stand up if they hate Tottenham at every home fixture, you wonder why they don’t have an alternative version for the Blues, who in association with Jose Mourinho’s arrival in England, have really gotten under the skin of not only Arsene Wenger but the club at large.
Having previously been the top dogs in London, say what you want about their playing style but Arsenal fans have enviously watched Chelsea lift all there is to win at club level, while Arsene Wenger has toiled and toiled to get the Midas touch back.
However, with both Financial Fair Play and Arsenal lifting two FA Cup’s in succession to become the most decorated club in the competition, Gooners believe they’re closing in on the light at the end of the tunnel and it’s about time.
What’s also about time is Arsenal finally defeating a Mourinho-led Chelsea team, with the Gunners having now failed on 14 separate occasions to get one over on the mischief maker himself that is the Portuguese boss.
Make no mistake, there is a current mental block with this Arsenal team when it comes to facing off against the Blues and any right-minded Gooner will absolutely detest Chelsea to the pit of their stomach.
Following the inevitable 0-0 draw at Emirates Stadium in the Premier League last term, Arsenal’s emotions spilt out, as they again blasted Chelsea for their small team mentality and negative tactics regarding setting up for a draw.
With John Terry gallivanting around the north London turf like a schoolboy who had just experienced his first ever kiss, it was a sickening sight for Arsenal fans to see, but at the end of the day, that point ensured the Blues were one step closer to lifting the title.
While you could argue about playing styles and principles all day long, this Arsenal side need to be trading their post-game monologue of ‘they set up defensively and were hard to break down’ to something like ‘we were patient but when our opportunities came, we took them’.
Chelsea are undoubtedly a superb outfit defensively, not to mention being fantastic offensively in the first half of last season, but the door was open for Arsenal on that day back in April – Danny Welbeck just had to step through it after missing a golden chance late on.
While Mourinho 14 Wenger 1 in terms of the manager’s head-to-head record would represent an Australian World Cup qualifying campaign-like scoreline, a single victory would mean oh so much to Arsenal fans, who simply crave a post-game Mourinho press conference to watch on repeat, the glee at having the bragging rights for once and the fireworks that would go off between the managers and fans in the immediate weeks thereafter.
In many Arsenal fans’ minds, Arsenal versus Chelsea fixtures are the footballing equivalent of good versus evil.
In many ways, Jose Mourinho, Chelsea and the likes of Diego Costa are a match made in heaven – they’re brash, arrogant and something imitating the school ground bully in their approach, both on and off the field – but they are winners.
Of course, rivalry is one of the biggest facets in any sport and everybody loves when things get a bit naughty.
After all, when Chelsea face Arsenal, Jose Mourinho always goes with the tact of giving the media some hate-charged soundbites a week or so before the fixture, that are then of course exacerbated by the press to kind of suss Wenger out (if he hadn’t already!) while antagonising the Gunners fanbase furthermore in the process.
This time it has surrounded spending at the elite level, but with this emotional Arsenal baggage that has preceded games against Chelsea, the Arsenal players need to stay open-minded, patient and confident in their own ability.
So what of the action itself on the field – although we’d love a manager cam watching the respective boss’ moves on the touchline?
Well, Chelsea have won two of their three games played in the International Champions Cup in North America this summer, prevailing on penalties against both Paris Saint Germain and Barcelona, while they were defeated by New York Red Bulls in their first game.
The Gunners meanwhile won the Barclays Asia Trophy, defeating a Singapore XI and Everton, while they also impressively defeated Lyon and Wolfsburg in last weekend’s Emirates Cup to win that mini tournament.
Make no mistake – while there was a gaping 12 point deficit between both London clubs at the end of last season, Arsenal have closed the gap since that awful 6-0 drubbing at Stamford Bridge back in March 2014. The gap has most recently and ironically been cut by a Chelsea arrival in Petr Cech, and it’ll be an emotional and strange encounter for the Czech Republic international on Sunday.
Many are claiming he’s a game changing signing in terms of eradicating the sloppy mistakes of Wojciech Szczesny and others that’ve cost the Gunners in recent seasons, and on the face of it, it looks like a masterstroke signing by Wenger. To supplement his arrival with a top class striker and the likes of Karim Benzema would represent something like utopia this summer.
In terms of a match prediction, Chelsea will of course be the favourites. After all, the Mourinho versus Wenger record makes for anything but pretty reading for Arsenal fans, but you can expect a tight encounter this weekend.
Both teams would’ve practiced both their post-game scripts depending on the result. Taken together, if Chelsea win, Blues fans will claim it’s another trophy while saying they’re almost getting bored of beating Arsenal, while if the Gunners lose, they’ll claim it’s only pre-season and vice versa.
One thing is for sure.
Arsenal versus Chelsea fixtures always make for highly watchable occasions no matter who you support and doesn’t it feel absolutely fantastic to have the beautiful game back on our screens?