despite the fact it still dominates the headlines and the fact that Ghostface McDivey has become the latest Barcelona player to speak out about how much they want to sign Cesc, I shall try and keep this blog relatively Cesc free.
Cesc’s dad has played down the shirt ‘prank’, as has Cesc himself, which is probably the right thing to do. It was noticeable that some people got rather annoyed at Cesc because of what happened. The only thing I’ll say to that is that’s exactly what they want to happen. Every little bit that destabilises the relationship between Cesc and the club/fans is part of their game. Don’t fall for it.
From our side there’s little news other than the suggestion there was a brief encounter between Rosell and Arsene Wenger during which the Arsenal manager gave him short shrift. Good stuff if true but as I said yesterday this thing won’t go away by ignoring it.
And the Cesc situation kind of masks the fact we have other issues to get on with right now. We need a goalkeeper for a start. Various reports yesterday said that Fulham turned down a £3m bid for Mark Schwarzer and if that’s the case perhaps we need to look elsewhere. That amount of money for keeper who will be 38 in October is a bit silly, if you ask me, regardless of our need. It’s not as if we’re getting the tail end of a World Class player’s career – he’s a decent enough keeper who played for Boro and Fulham. If £3m isn’t enough, and for me that’s over the odds already, then let’s explore other options.
I can see the manager’s reasoning. I think he wants a keeper of Schwarzer’s age so there’s no great impediment for Wojscez©® who’s probably going to go out on loan again next season. I just think if the young Pole is good enough then he’ll make his breakthrough whoever’s in front of him. It does feel a bit stop-gappy though and perhaps one of the problems we’ve had in recent years is gambling on potential. We’ve let established players go and not replaced them in the hope that the younger squad members will come in and take their chance. The success rate there, I think it’s fair to say, has been variable.
When you look at Diarra, Gilberto and Flamini leaving, allowing Diaby, Denilson and Song to emerge you could only really point at the latter as being a real success, and even then he’s still got much to prove. Diaby and Denilson have been disappointing overall, despite some decent individual moments, so maybe our planning regarding a goalkeeper needs to be a bit less long term and more focussed on properly improving an area than badly needs it.
Then there’s the matter of another centre-half. Pre-season pictures show Djourou’s knee still bandaged so he’s either grazed his knee in the playground or he’s still troubled by it a little bit. Vermaelen looks like a sinister, smiling assassin, which is the way it should be, and then we’ve got Koscielny who says he’s going to work like a dog. I have to say I like that, can’t fault the attitude, but clearly he’s aware there’s a big, big step-up required from the level he’s been accustomed to playing at. I’m not suggesting for one second it’s beyond him, having never seen him play that would be ridiculous, but there’s a great big hole in the centre of our defence that must be filled with a great, big lump of quality and experience, preferably Premier League experience.
And going a bit further I’d be inclined to suggest we need another defensive midfield player. At the moment the only player in the squad who can play that role is Alex Song. To expect him to play every game is silly and another player, who would provide decent competition, would ensure that complacency, often an issue with some of our players, does not affect performances. Ahead of the DM role we’ve got a ton of players who can do the job – Cesc, Nasri, Rosicky, Diaby, Denilson (who is most definitely not a defensive midfield player), Ramsey (when he returns), Wilshere – there’s more than enough there.
So while the Cesc stuff is clearly more headline friendly there’s still work to do to make our squad properly competitive ahead of the new campaign. We’ve already brought in two players but we’ve lost more. Sylvester, Gallas and Campbell are all free agents, so we’ve not added to the squad, just replaced 2/3rds of what we’ve let go. And there’s no doubt in my mind that this is a squad that needs strengthening if we’re really going to compete.
At the other end of the pitch question marks remain over Eduardo’s future but some quotes attributed to Arsene Wenger suggest he’s part of the plans for the new season. The boss says:
Eduardo is an Arsenal player and I am expecting a lot from him this season. He had a terrible injury – he went through hell – but I think his workrate is fantastic and his determination, which is exceptional, will be of great use to Arsenal.
None of which explains why Eduardo spent most of the final part of last season warming up and never getting on, even in games in which we needed goals. It’d be fantastic to see the real Eduardo back again but you can’t help but have serious doubts about that ever happening.
And that’s about the size of it this morning. Coverage of our pre-season games, starting with Barnet on Saturday, is going to be on Arsenal TV Online, it’ll cost you £1 a game, which really is nothing. Especially if your name is William.