Morning all, Saturday round-up for you starting with yesterday’s 2-0 defeat by Man City in Beijing. Certainly the four Man City fans in attendance will have been happy at the result, but one or two shoddy defensive moments aside I thought there were some encouraging things from an Arsenal point of view.
Firstly, the game itself was played at a much higher pace than the one against Malaysia XI so from a fitness point of view it’ll have been a very good work out. Secondly, I don’t know whether it was instruction or opportunism, but Arsenal seemed willing to shoot from distance right throughout the game. It may well be just because the chances presented themselves but Jenkinson, Walcott, Santos and Oxlade-Chamberlain (amongst them all) were all quite willing to have a pop (the latter hit both posts with one effort). When you’re as routinely accused of wanting to walk the ball into the net, this certainly made a nice change and had we been facing a goalkeeper who didn’t have the game of his life (even in pre-season it happens!) we probably would have scored a couple.
As I said though, a couple of defensive lapses let City in for their goals, both of which came late in the first half. These are not uncommon in pre-season but I guess the difficulty is these are not uncommon for Arsenal in mid-season either. It is worth noting though that Steve Bould is only a couple of weeks into his job as Arsene’s assistant and expecting him to sort out the defence straight away is unrealistic. In a way, it might even be a good thing that those goals went in the way they did because he’s got perfect ‘See this? Don’t do that, do this’ material to work with the players.
Again, it’s the performance and the workout that matters most and it will have been positive in that regard. Afterwards, Arsene said:
We were a bit vulnerable on the counter-attack and that is where we got caught. But overall what is important for us is to see everybody play and give everybody competition. We lasted 90 minutes at quite a good level.
The next game is Sunday in Hong Kong and then it’s back to London where we don’t have a fixture until the game against Cologne on August 12th. You would have to hope somebody’s trying to organise something, the gap left by the Nigerian cancellation needs to be filled and the players left at home need more than one run-out to get themselves ready.
The manager was inevitably asked about transfers and Robin van Persie. Apparently he got a bit grumpy with all the van Persie questions and I can’t say I blame him. It’s not as if he was waiting for after this game to spill the beans he hasn’t spilled all summer. Anyway, he denied we’d received any further bids for him and that’s about that at this moment in time.
He was also asked about the potential signing of Turkish midfielder Nuri Sahin on loan from Real Madrid. This was based on an article in Marca which stated quite definitively that Sahin would join us for a season after Sp*rs dropped their interest in him as part of the Modric deal. There’s a screenshot here and the first line reads ‘Nuri Sahin will play for Arsenal next season.’ Quite quickly, however, they changed the story, saying only that he would ‘probably play in the Premier League next season’. Maybe they jumped the gun, maybe they were asked/told to tone it down, but either way Arsene did his usual and said we’re not close to signing anyone. Interesting stuff though.
Meanwhile, in this morning’s Spanish press, AS reveal (Spanish) that late last night a €23m offer for Santi Cazorla arrived in Malaga. From us, just in case you were wondering. They also say that Malaga were all like ‘Nuh-uuuuh’ and pointed to the €45m release clause in his contract, but apparently Arsenal’s offer would cover what they paid for him last summer as well as the money they owe Villarreal (including VAT!).
According to a local paper Malaga’s financial issues are still ongoing despite the fact they sorted out payments owed to players, including Cazorla and Ruud van Nistelrooy (who I hope was paid in hay and metal shoes). It means that in the short-term they may have to offset their desire to keep the player with the need to keep the club afloat. Quite what will happen at board level there is hard to know but if there’s now an official offer then it looks as if we’re trying to take advantage and bring in the kind of player who would really add something to this team. Keeping it all crossed here.
And that’s really about that for this Saturday morning, but I have to mention last night’s Olympic opening ceremony though. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen anything that mental and utterly fantastic. Once the teams came out and started parading around I gave up but what came before that was just brilliant, looked amazing, and was also a nice reminder that there’s a big world out there, full of people who don’t know everything and can’t wait to tell the Internet about it. Well done, London.