A very good 3-0 win last night left us with one foot firmly in the Champions League group stages. With the next leg at home and with 3 away goals it would take something of a collapse for us not to get there.
Our goals came from Cesc, who got two remarkably similar goals, and one from Robin van Persie. It was a fairly inexperienced side with Djourou and Justin Hoyte at the back, Tomas Rosicky making his competitive debut and Adebayor and Robin up front.
I’m not going to go into the details of the performance except to say it was quite noticable that we’re still trying to find our fitness and the 3-0 win was all the more impressive because of that. Cesc obviously stood out because of his contribution (I think he could chip in with quite a few goals this season) and in various phases both Adebayor and van Persie worked very well together and individually.
Rosicky had a quiet enough debut as he wasn’t really supposed to play but showed some nice touches. Overall though it was a good night’s work by the boys and the signs are promising. We broke down a team that was putting 10 men behind the ball whenever we had it and once we get our fitness and pace up there’ll be more to come.
The big talking point, result aside, was the fact that Arsene Wenger left JosÃ© Antonio Reyes on the bench.
He claims it had nothing to do with him being cup-tied if he played, thus making a move to Madrid unlikely, but did admit all the talk and speculation had unsettled the Spaniard. AS this morning claims that Reyes asked not to play. Wenger said:
I did not think he had the right concentration to play. I just considered tonight’s game and the fact he will be cup-tied or not did not come into my mind.
Of course this is not going to dampen the speculation at all and listening to Cesc’s interview on the BBC afterwards (Real Player reqd) I just get the feeling there’s more to the story than the boss is letting on. He says he wants to keep him and that he’s confident the player will stay but there’s just too much smoke not for there to be some fire. After he scored Cesc went over to the Arsenal bench and hugged Reyes and listening to that interview you have to think Reyes is off while yet again being struck by the maturity and intelligence of Fabregas.
The Spanish press is buzzing with the news that Reyes didn’t play last night, convinced that a move is imminent while JosÃ©’s agent is quoted as saying:
I understand it will happen this week. If it doesnâ€™t the situation wonâ€™t benefit anybody, neither one club or the other â€” and even less so the player. Itâ€™s no longer any secret that Jose wants to play for Real Madrid.
It’s hardly ideal preparation for the new season but as we’ve said all along if the player is not happy then what can we do? Reyes out, Ribery in seems to be the move despite Arsene Wenger categorically denying making a bid for the Frenchman. And just days after saying he’s looking for at least one, perhaps two new players, he seems to have changed his tune again, saying:
Even if somebody goes, it is not sure I will make a bid for anybody. We have left an impressive list of players behind tonight. To add players to the team to just be spectacular, I am not going to do.
It’s not about being spectacular though, it’s about building a balanced squad with enough depth to cope with injuries and provide Chelsea et al with a decent challenge this time around. I love Arsene but he is beginning to just annoy me a little bit with his constant position shift on transfers.
The Reyes situation is obviously a distraction and more problems lie on the horizon with Ashley Cole. Both Wenger and Mourinho have set a deadline for any deal to be completed by Thierry Henry has urged Arsenal not to sell, saying:
Obviously we want him to stay. He is one of the best left-backs in the world. We would miss him badly. If he goes there [Chelsea] it will look like we are trying to catch a team at the same time as giving them one of our best assets. It would be difficult to take.
From a footballing perspective you’ve got to say he’s got a point but there’s obviously more to the situation than just football and Thierry should realise that too. Arsenal haven’t engineered this situation, it’s been entirely the work of Cole and his agent who have done everything possible to allow themselves to be lured by the filthy lucre on offer at Stamford Bridge. Personally, I don’t have a problem selling him to Chelsea as long as the money generated by his sale is invested back into the team and invested in quality. It is pure profit after all.
If Cole and Reyes go then signing Ribery and one other just leaves us where we started. Sadly I can’t see Arsene buying any more than two players.
Anyway, it looks like it’s going to be a busy week for the manager and Double-D and I don’t want to get too negative about things because last night’s performance was very positive, so let’s dwell on that for the moment and see what happens with Reyes and Cole by the end of the week.
Today, I think I might go to the beach.