Right then, stupid pointless, irritating internationals are out of the way, now we can get back to the real thing.
So far there have been no reports of maimings, snappings, twistings or any other ings which might prove damaging to an Arsenal player’s chances of playing on Saturday. Robin van Persie played 45 minutes against England, Bert van Marwijk saying that he’d spoken with the skipper and because he’d had a bit of a groin problem he agreed to only play him for a half.
Maybe we’re super-conscious of it because it’s Robin, but surely the sensible thing to do if a player has any kind of a problem is not play him at all. And while I get that this is the last friendly many teams will play before Euro 2012, it always seems strange to me the way the managers don’t take the opportunity to look at some more fringe players.
What could the Dutch camp have possibly gained or learned from playing van Persie last night? It’s the same with Ireland, Trapattoni playing the same players who always play (for example – what would it have hurt to try another goalkeeper apart from Shay Given for once?), but there you go. Football managers are a strange lot at the best of times, international managers even stranger because they have to spend so much time alone with nobody to talk to and with nobody on the training ground. They put the cones out every morning but nobody is there to run between them. It’d drive anyone mad.
Still, let’s hope that Robin is fine and all the others who flew to various parts of the world for games nobody gives a single, solitary shit about come back safe, sound and ready for action on Saturday. And amazingly, I found out there’s another African Cup of African Nations of Africa in Africa next year! Seriously, two years running … how do they get away with it? I realise we don’t have to worry about this until next January but all the same Platini must be spewing.
He wanted a World Cup every two years and now the Africans are putting him to shame with their tournament moving (briefly) to an annual basis. After next year it returns to its bi-annual status but in this day and age I am still staggered by the rights of nations over players who they don’t pay, don’t look after properly and who they’re quite happy to run into the ground before sending them back to their clubs. Anyway, that’s a rant for another day.
You can find a full list of who did what, and for how long, on the official site. 90 minutes for Vermaelen who was carrying an ankle knock, eh? Cheers, Belgium. Maybe it’s a sign that his ankle is ok but I have visions of an evil doctor who looks just like the Fakir from Tintin injecting him with a mix of cortisone, novocaine and morphine (with a dash of crystal meth for energy) before sending him out to run around, out of his mind and feeling nothing. Nothing.
The players will start trickling back today, meaning we’ll only have one meaningful training session ahead of the ‘smashers. As it’s an early kick off on Saturday we’ll be traveling up tomorrow which really doesn’t make for ideal preparation, but there you go. I’m sure they’ve had players away on international duty too so it is like a bobbly pitch – the same for both sides. That doesn’t mean I can’t complain about it from an Arsenal point of view.
At this moment we’ve got no idea regarding team news, so all previewing of the game can take place tomorrow and Saturday when we’ve got a bit more information. The only snippet we have is that Johan Djourou looks set to miss a month with a groin injury, so with Mertesacker crocked, Squillaci sitting in a corner somewhere rocking back and forth, and no midfield cover to allow us to move Song back, it opens the door for Ignasi Miquel should he be needed.
We have a maximum of 13 games left this season – if we assume that Milan is a mountain that’s just too high to climb although you never … nah, let’s not even go there – so hoping Vermaelen (somewhat injury prone) and Koscielny (being nursed through minor knocks and strains) stay fit enough to start all of them might be a little optimistic. Obviously that would be ideal, but Miquel has looked decent enough this season. Sometimes a young player just needs a chance to prove himself, so let’s see what happens.
Not much else going on really. The club have announced a pre-season game against Man City in Beijing in July. Clearly a game that is designed to boost our finances with no Emirates Cup this summer and one which ties in with our desire to spread our Arse across the globe. I really have no issue with that at all, the sedate, safe nature of the Austrian training camp was hardly crucial to success, as the barren years have proved, but I do find it odd that with Kroenkenstein now the main man we haven’t ventured to the US.
The Gooners across the Atlantic are some of the most passionate and dedicated overseas fans we have, getting up really early (or staying up really late) to watch games. Not that this makes them any different from our friends in other far flung places, but that kind of dedication to the team is always amazing, wherever you are. Also, if you want to base a tour on appeal to fans then I can tell you that based on traffic figures for Arseblog the UK comes first and it’s the US second by a long distance. I know that has as much to do with numbers of people, and their online access, as anything else but still.
And surely the bottom line is that if you’re talking commerical appeal, spreading ‘brand awareness’ and all that other marketeering guff, then the US is a market and a fanbase we should be doing more for? Maybe it’s in the pipeline for next summer, with a US owner and all that that entails, you would like to think so.
Right, that’s that. Back tomorrow with an Arsecast and all the rest.