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Arsenal in a Week, Phillipp Degen Out on Loan

Things to think about as you ignore the Community Shield.

Oh don't get so butthurt, I'm just as excited about the season starting as anyone else. Although if you find yourself cheering at any point during today's match, turn the TV/computer off immediately and recite the lyrics to "The Fields of Anfield Road" twenty times for penance.

We're seven days away from Arsenal's visit to Anfield, which is a simultaneously exciting and horrifying proposition. Exciting because, of course, the beginning of the season always brings a sort of promise and hope that only a 0-0-0 record can. Apparently there's no shortage of hope in the crowd that's hanging around here, unless five of you combined to vote 206 times for Liverpool to win the title. Impressive turnout overall---617 voters as of writing, and only a small minority voted that Liverpool would once again be left wanting for Champions League football. No, I won't be responsible for organizing a support group for everyone if that whole title thing doesn't work out.

It's not as if that hope is completely aimless---plenty of commenters yesterday outlined healthy justification for Liverpool putting together a real-deal title run, and as such I'm inclined to think that it's not just hope for hope's sake. At some point we stop referencing the victories against Rabotnicki (which I'll welcome with open arms), but for now you have to say that the early evidence for Liverpool turning things around is somewhat compelling. The optimism seems to be there for the players and staff as well, and if nothing else, you can say it's a somewhat exciting time to be a Liverpool fan. How's that for a tagline? "Liverpool FC---a team that will get you somewhat excited."

But there's also the standard worries that come with a new season, which is where the horror comes in for Liverpool---it seems that every "normal" concern is continually heightened by the failures of last season. Injuries, boardroom unrest, not enough activity in the transfer market, no money, etc. etc. are worrisome enough for any club, but for Liverpool they're potentially catastrophic, depending on what you're reading. And if any or all of those things head in the wrong direction, take cover.

The only way for last season to be wiped away is to start to plug away at the new season, so even if you're cowering at the proposition of Arsene Wenger and Arsenal visiting Anfield next Sunday, you have to welcome the potential for "Liverpool" and "failure" to not be so popular on Google Search. Sunday itself doesn't make or break Liverpool's season, but there's plenty of pressure on the fixture for both sides, and since we're all so good at sitting and waiting before making conclusions, we should know whether or not Liverpool will win the title.

One player we know won't be around is Phillipp Degen, who's headed back to Germany with VfB Stuttgart on loan for the duration of the season. You have to feel a bit for the Swiss defender---he arrived with a view to becoming a first-team regular, got hurt, got hurt again, played for the reserves, got hurt again, played a decent couple of matches on the wing, got hurt, and now is leaving the club on loan with, I'd guess, a view to making things permanent.

It doesn't really hurt the club in terms of depth, as Martin Kelly has emerged as the clear back-up for Glen Johnson. And Degen struggled mightily in the few times we did see him in a fullback role---his best run-outs for Liverpool were on the right flank, when all that was required was a pulse and sprinting towards the opposition goal. For all the difficulties he's had during his time at Liverpool, though, you never heard him bitch or moan about lack of playing time and never heard his agent threaten that the player would leave. By all accounts he was a class act, and that's always missed by a club.

So hopefully he's able to find fitness and some consistent playing time at Stuttgart. Best of luck, Phillipp.

That's it for news today---there are some rumblings about the bids for the club, but nothing concrete, so as usual we sit, wait, and hope to be put out of our misery. How's that for ending on a high note?

Back tomorrow with more.

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