The Emirates Cup day one

So yesterday saw our first pre-season game at home, in the Emirates Cup against PSG.

For what it was worth, we won 2-1, which was nice, but the performance, certainly in the first half left a bit to be desired.

Positives. Clichy was excellent and looked very fresh and I’m very, very glad we’ve got him instead of That Utter Cunt. His pace really is something to behold and he was easily our most dangerous player in the first half. We were murdering them time and again with Clichy putting in crosses. We’ve been blessed at left-back for quite a while now – at least in terms of playing ability – with Winterburn, Sylvinho, That Cunt, and now Clichy, who looks like a top player.

However, he had to be pretty good because we were playing four central midfielders and the team had no width at all apart from overlapping full-backs. I don’t know whether this is some grand master plan of The Boss, but as well as Clichy did, I can’t see how it’s really viable. We really need some out and out wide players, a la Overmars – or someone like Reyes (that can cope with the climate). Even if the full backs do overlap, that’s only going to end up leaving the defence exposed and we’ll get suckered.

In the second half, Eboue was again pushed forward to the wing, and it was better. I really do think he could play there. Like I said, it relieves him of quite so much defensive responsibility, he’s got a few tricks (as well as the theatrics), he can certainly cross the ball, and he’s not a bad shot. Be interesting to see what happens with that.

We saw Sagna too, and although he didn’t impress too much, he was okay. In a game where full backs were so important for us, I can forgive him for being a bit lost.

A word for Almunia, who – say it quietly – had an excellent game. There wasn’t much he could do about their goal and he made several very good saves including one on the volley from Pauleta which was outstanding. I like Manuel. I do remember the game against United (and I don’t think he was at fault in the Champions’ League Final myself) but he’s an excellent shot stopper and if he could learn to deal with crosses properly, Fabianski might well find himself surplus to requirements, at least until Jens goes.

In the second half, we improved, with Diaby and Hleb having a significant impact. Diaby was getting the inevitable comparisons with Vieira from the Sky commentators, and though he’s still very raw, you can’t help but be reminded of Vieira and his telescopic legs. He’s a ball winner and carrier and I think he’ll be an important player for us. Hleb too, was very good. He’s such a frustrating player; certainly I feel that he has all the skill in the world and he just needs to find his feet to be really, really good. He was playing more centrally in the second half and had a real influence on the game, turning away from players with ease with a drop of the shoulder or the odd feint. Good stuff.

Nicklas Bendtner was partnered with Van Persie from the start, and he set up Flamini for the opening goal, scored the sort of goal We Just Don’t Score from a corner, and missed a penalty. It was a bit of a mixed bag. On the face of it, he did well, but he seemed to a bit lazy at times (and his penalty was rubbish) – in sharp contrast with Robin, who was all over the place, slide tackling and testing the goalie. But a good home debut (I think that was his debut, was it not?) and he got a goal which should give him some confidence.

A bit of a strange game, but we got the result even if we didn’t have the fluency. For what it’s worth, we’re second in the table for the Emirates Cup, behind Valencia on goal difference, who beat Inter 2-0 earlier in the day.

In his post match interview, Arsene Wenger made some very cryptic comments which GilbertoSilver has kindly transcribed over on Gunnerblog. It all sounds like a bit of a smokescreen to me but intriguing nonetheless.

Today sees us play Inter, again at 4.15 on Sky Sports 2 (not 1 as I thought yesterday).

Time now for the ‘scandal’ of the day. The News of The World (spit) is reporting that The Orange Man, David Dein, had dinner with Arsene Wenger in a London restaurant on Thursday (outrageous!). Their ‘eyewitness’ said:

They spent much of their time talking about Arsenal. It was definitely business.

The conversation was intense, Dein mentioned ex-skipper Thierry Henry a couple of times and I heard words like ‘plans’ and ‘the way forward’.

The News of The World has an eyewitness that can testify to the content of the conversation do they? Lucky they found that witness. Otherwise they could’ve been meeting for dinner because that’s what people do and we’d be none the wiser. Thank Heavens for The News of the World and it’s incisive, investigative journalism.

What a load of bollocks. So they met for dinner? So what? Bollocks do you know what they were talking about.

Anyway, that’s your lot for today. Enjoy your afternoon to all those that are going. I’m going to drink yet more beer, enjoy my Sunday and look forward to the football later.