So, here we are after a long, long off-season getting ready for the new one to begin. Just a working week away from our first game of the season.
There are many adjectives you could use about this summer, none of them terribly positive. In fact, the most positive thing about this summer is that it’s almost over. The frustration, the apparent lack of activity, poor communication and everything else has almost become a living, breathing thing. I call him Wilbur and occasionally I poke him with a stick – but for the most part I try not to because he’s got the strength of ten men, like Matt Damon, and the reality is he’s best off left alone.
This week will see the traditional season preview (at this very moment it’d be fair to say I don’t think we’re in great shape) and the return of the Arsecast. And on Saturday we’ll have to hope whatever shape we’re in is good enough to get a result at St James’ Park, the scene of last season’s most ridiculous result. Will the memories be fresh and scary or will we exorcise our demons? We shall see.
It does seem as if we’re on the cusp of an injury crisis ahead of the first game. There are doubts over Robin van Persie (although we should get some idea if he takes part for Holland in midweek), Kieran Gibbs (thigh), Thomas Vermaelen (back), Samir Nasri (spine) while Koscielny, Walcott and Wilshere all missed the game against Benfica. The Cesc situation means he’s not fit and won’t be available for Newcastle – if he’s still with us.
Lots of reportage this morning about Wenger and Capello being on ‘collision course’ over Jack. He’s set to join up with England today and will be assessed by their medical team (which used to be our medical team, I guess), but after the game with Benfica Arsene said:
They can include him as much as they want, he will not play.
Some might see it as putting it up to Capello but it might just have been an honest assessment of Jack’s injury. If you read around you’ll see it suggested the Italian is ‘laying down the law’ to Wenger over Wilshere but I suppose they’re within their rights to assess the player themselves. If he plays for England we have to assume he’s ready to play for Arsenal at the weekend, if he doesn’t we’ll likely start the season without him. Either way, let’s hope common sense prevails, Saturday is the first of many games and it’s the many we, and England, have to keep the focus on.
All eyes will be on the manager this week, who received the backing of his chum Double-D yesterday, and whether or not he can add to the squad before the season kicks off. The Mail this morning leads with an EXCLUSIVE about a bid for Gary Cahill. That’s pretty damn exclusive all right, I mean, I don’t think I’ve heard his name mentioned once this summer.
They say Steve Rowley was sent to see him play in Bolton’s pre-season friendly against Levante, while other reports over the weekend said Rowley would be watching Birmingham v Derby to check out Scott Dann. I do wonder about the veracity of those reports over Rowley’s whereabouts because if true they suggest a kind of ‘making it up as you go along-ism’ when it comes to our transfer targets.
Surely, if we’re interested in signing a player like Cahill or Dann, we’ve got enough information about them already. What would Cahill’s performance in a friendly tell us that we don’t already know? Or at least what we ought to know by now. It just seems a bit odd to me, is all. Same with Dann. Why would one performance now convince us to sign him? Perhaps it speaks to a dearth of central-defensive options in the transfer market at the moment. Certainly if you’re buying from within England it’s the usual suspects. Cahill, Samba, Jagielka, now Scott Dann.
And if we’re going to buy domestically, the complaints about buying from teams lower down the league don’t make much sense to me. Simply because we’re hardly going to buy from Chelsea, United or City, which doesn’t leave us with any other option. And down the years some of our best defenders have come from from down the league(s), making the step-up and improving by playing in a better team.
It is something I wish he’d sort out though. If Vermaelen and Koscielny are injured for Saturday it means a partnership of Squillaci and Djourou with youngster Ignasi Miquel as back up. Not exactly as strong a defence as we would like going into the new season.
Tonight Ivan Gazidis will hold a meeting with AISA and will answer questions from members. I suspect, even though the questions had to be pre-submitted, that the chief executive is going to find this a much tougher gig than the AST crowd he met earlier in the summer. Then he spoke about strengthening the squad but remaining silent so as not to upset the delicate balance of any deals we might be doing.
That’d be the grand total of one deal since then and that was Gervinho who everyone knew were going to sign anyway. It will be interesting to see how tonight’s meeting goes. If Ivan arrives in on the back of a couple of interesting announcements today then the mood will be markedly different. If, as I suspect, he’s facing supporters frustrated by a lot of talk from the club and nowhere near enough action, it’ll take all his political skills to escape verbally unscathed.
Finally for today The Telegraph reports the deal for Oxencart-Chamberpot is almost done. Why would we be signing another young wide forward? So many questions. Will Glen Campbell arrived from Costa Rica? Would those two signings mean that the club will have enough strength in those areas to sell Nasri to Man City? What does that then mean for Cesc? Do Barcelona have the money to sign him? It’s going to be an interesting week, I think.
Any news breaking throughout the day can be found on Arseblog News, more from the blog tomorrow. Let the countdown to the new season begin.