Football returns, everything else stays the same

Arsenal team v Malaysia XI
Pic via @gunemall

So, football yesterday and pre-season kicked off with a fairly routine win over a Malaysia XI.

Two goals in each half gave us a 4-0 win. An early Aaron Ramsey penalty after Jack Wilshere had been taken down in the box opened the scoring. The second came from a lovely Ramsey pass over the top of the Malaysia defence, Theo Walcott timed his run and lobbed the onrushing keeper.

In the second Carlos Vela got his first chip of the season to make it 3-0 and right at the death Tomas Rosicky headed in from close range to seal the deal. After his goal against Leyton Orient that makes him a greater aerial threat than Chamakh and Bendtner put together.

The result wasn’t important though. It was all about the physical preparation and the heat and humidity will have been a challenge. The pace of the game was fairly slow, as you would expect any game at this stage of pre-season, and it didn’t tell us very much we didn’t already know. Defensively we weren’t really tested at all.

The most interesting part was seeing the newcomers, Miyachi and Jenkison, for the first time. Obviously it’s way too early to cast any judgement on them but they both looked promising. The former has bags of pace but probably needs to know when to use his little tricks and flicks, while Jenkinson looked quite solid at right back, got up and down with plenty of energy and was strong in the tackle.

We’ll see how they progress over the next few weeks – and, of course, we still have to get Miyachi’s work permit sorted out. A quick trip to Mr Syl Vinho’s One-Stop Passport and Immigration Emporium may be required for that one though. Also, before the hype machine gets out of control we have to remember how far this lad has come in a short space of time. As promising as he is, the best thing for his development might well be to spend another season out on loan.

Afterwards Arsene said:

We have no injuries and we had a good sweat. Overall what is important for us is to get slowly ready. I believe technically we were alright for our first game. Physically we suffered a little bit but what is important at this period of the season is to find our team play back and that was quite satisfying.

There was a 20 minute cameo from Samir Nasri, who came on at the same time as van Persie, Arshavin and Sagna, and the manager insisted the speculation over his future won’t affect him when he’s on the pitch. He also spoke about his decision to keep him for the season ahead and whether the board back that:

I think so, I believe that is no problem. It is a technical decision. What is important is that the club has a good team and is in a strong financial situation. The decisions are dictated by financial restrictions but not only by that. The most important thing is that the team is right and our financial situation is right as well.

Wenger was also asked about the latest comments from Barcelona regarding Cesc. As per usual Xavi has been bleating to the press about how Cesc is ‘suffering’, although for some reason he didn’t mention anything about DNA, which prompted the manager to respond:

What is important is that Cesc Fabregas is contracted to Arsenal. That is a fact. Arsenal wants to keep him and all the rest is comment. If I found Barcelona in exactly the same position, I believe a mutual respect between the clubs should stop this kind of comment. If it is true then it is very disrespectful and it is not the first time that Xavi has been disrespectful to Arsenal.

That the comments were published on Barcelona’s official website will have only added to the manager’s anger, I suspect, and once again it’s a demonstration that for all their on-pitch prowess they appear to be run by a pack of bumbling halfwits. It was stuff like this which added to Arsenal’s resolve last summer and ultimately it’s going to make any negotiation with Arsenal over a transfer more difficult. Whatever way you look at it they’re playing their hand badly.

They still haven’t come close to match Arsenal’s valuation of him and perhaps, if the Barcelona players have to talk at all, they might give us their public thoughts on why their President won’t pay what Cesc is worth? They all think he’s a fantastic player, and they’re right, so why do they think they should get a fantastic player on the cheap?

Isn’t it an insult to Cesc to offer less than he’s worth or to say you want him but then to spend a large percentage of your transfer kitty on someone else? I am tired of hearing Xavi talk but I’d listen to what he had to say about that. Anyway, bottom line is nothing has changed.

Back to us and the team head off to China now to play a game on Saturday against Hangzhou Greentown, before returning to continue the pre-season preparations in more familiar surroundings.

Not a lot else going on. There are some whispers about Nicklas Bendtner and Fulham, although nothing concrete there, and beyond that it’s pretty quiet when it comes to transfer ins and outs. Well, relatively speaking, of course. The actual football seems to be the focus which, you have to say, is no bad thing at all.

Further reading can be found this morning with Tim Stillman’s latest column.

And if you’re a football team and you’re a bit rubbish and would like to learn how to give away four goal leads, lose cup finals to twats, conceded goals from every corner you face and also beat Barcelona, then perhaps a training day at Arsenal would be just the thing for you. Simply go here and watch the video to find out how you can enter the competition.

Right, have at it, more tomorrow.

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