The first pre-game press conference of the new season took place yesterday and as you might imagine there were plenty of interesting snippets from Arsene.
He was full of confidence for the season ahead and is right up for a title challenge, saying:
We know we have quality, we know we have a style of play, we know we have a hunger and we know how we have prepared. We have created a strong belief, we have a great solidarity in the squad and we know thatâ€™s what matters now. That is why we are so keen to show it. It is the pride of the champions to come and show how good you are and I believe this team wants to show that.
So, those are the expectation levels of Arsene. When you compare them to the fans who rang in and left messages for yesterday’s Arsecast there’s a bit of a gap. While not everyone thought we’d be champions the majority were expecting, and were happy with, improvement in the league. I think most fans consider the squad to be short a couple of players for a real title challenge so the news from Arsene on transfers might not be to everyone’s taste. He said:
I always look at my team and what we need to be strong. And I feel we are strong, I donâ€™t feel we need more. But we are always listening. If something comes up we have the funds to do it, but we donâ€™t have a special need.
The fact that we’re not actively looking for new players and merely ‘listening’ in case a nice bargain pops up is slightly disappointing. Of course if could be just Arsene putting people off the scent but more likely he means what he says. My thoughts are that we need a new wide player and a striker but perhaps our collection of central midfield players might see a slight change in formation. Maybe he sees Rosicky and Hleb as cover for the strikers as both of them like that ‘number 10’ role as well as traditional wide players which we know they’re not.
Let’s remember as well that we are in profit for this summer’s transfer activities. In fact since January we’ve pulled in, by my estimation, somewhere in the region of Â£30m in transfer fees and spent around Â£18m. If you consider the fact that there was money there to begin with there’s probably a big pile for Arsene to
lie on the floor with and count while laughing hysterically make use of and most of us would like to see him do that. I know you can say there are no obvious candidates for the positions we need but I can’t believe Arsene Wenger and his famed network of scouts can’t dig up anyone.
To be honest, I think he’s taking a massive, massive gamble if he doesn’t bring in anymore players between now and the transfer deadline. Tribal Football, via The Daily Mail (which is sort of like Hitler recommending Pol Pot for country club entry), links us with Luka Modric.
As well as that we’ve now weakened the squad even further by loaning out Johann Djourou to Birmingham. Now, I can see the logic of Djourou playing games to get experience and we do still have Kolo, Gallas and Senderos but a couple of injuries and we’re short of cover. You have to think Gilberto is being thought of not only as a central midfield player but cover for the centre-halves. After that though we’re very short. It’s either Alex Song or that new lad Nordveidt who really is too young at this stage.
Djourou will be back in January when Eboue and Toure go off to the ACN and hopefully he’ll have had a good run in the Birmingham team but his departure does enfeeble us slightly. Arsene’s thoughts on his new contract are nothing new so there’s no point going over them.
George Graham is full of confidence for the new season though. Sitting in his landcaped garden with an Arsenal cannon hand hewn in the grass, he says:
You have to be wise and I would ask the fans to just show some trust in Arsene’s methods – I don’t doubt them. This group of players he has could, if it all clicks, shock many people.
Absolutely right. I’m just afraid they only ‘Cli’ or ‘clic’ and not quite ‘click’. We’ll see though.
Team news for tomorrow sees Gilberto out, Adebayor and Eduardo doubts but the Crozilian has more chance of playing than missing the game. Other than that everyone is ship-shape and raring to go, no doubt.
Bernie Ecclestone, formula 1 supremo and Thunderbirds baddy, says he’s interested in Arsenal again. His old mate Deino is probably somewhere in the background and Ecclestone says:
I am still very interested. If I could buy Arsenal I would, but I’d want control.
Fair enough. I too would buy Arsenal if I could and I would also want control. However, I’m not a horrible fucking cunt. Mostly. It’s true.
And that’s about it until tomorrow and our horribly scheduled game which we probably won’t be able to see anywhere. Haave fun.