Some actual football, Diaby, Koscielny and Malaga need a cuddle

Good morning to you, another working week draws to a close and given the fact most people will extend their lunch break to watch the game this afternoon, I think it’d be only fair to suggest you all take a half day.

It’s an interesting one this afternoon. Any pre-season game against a Premier League team would have some kind of intensity to it, today’s game against Manchester City even more so because of what’s gone on between us and them in recent times. I mean, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them make a cheeky half-time bid for Thomas Vermaelen now that he’s got the release me captain’s armband. I also wouldn’t be surprised if they made the bid via the medium of Salem’s Lot, a floating Robin vampire Persie scratching at Tommy’s window, ‘Let me in, Thomas. You’ll like it, I promise.’

There’ll be less spice than we might like due to the absence of Nasri, like other Euro players (on both sides), he’s not taking part, but Kolo Toure is there. I saw this from some pictures and Kolo was always a decent guy. Hey, he hated Gallas, can’t knock the man for that. Other than that, I choose to think of them all as despicable, horrendous twats in a knock-off Coventry kit.

Whether the opposition today means we’ll get a better performance from Arsenal remains to be seen. It is still just pre-season and, believe it or not, there was a time when a) we didn’t know very much about what we did in our pre-season games (unless you were there) and b) we didn’t give a shit anyway. I know every tiny little thing is pored over and analysed these days and no doubt the same will apply today but once we get through the game without any injuries that’s really as much as I care about. Kick off is 1pm and it’s available on ESPN, I believe, as well as the Arsenal Player.

It’s another chance for Abou Diaby to get some minutes under his belt and while he’s feeling good he’s grateful to the manager for his faith in him, saying:

It is always nice to have the confidence of the manager. It is so important that I stay fit because last season I was injured many times and couldn’t play much, so this year is crucial.

It’s clear Arsene really wants it to work for Diaby, he sees a player in there that we’ve seen flashes of down the years but due to the injuries he’s never been able to produce anything on a consistent basis. That the player himself says it’s crucial suggests there’s been some kind of make or break conversation with the boss, and while, like many, I doubt his ability to stay fit, wouldn’t it be best for all concerned if he did?

Meanwhile, Laurent Koscielny says he wasn’t interested in talking to Barcelona this summer as his focus was just on Arsenal. The Catalan Cescnappers were rumoured to be after a centre-half this summer and both Koscielny and Vermaelen were linked in the Spanish press. The latter would have proved very difficult due to the fact he signed a new deal in the middle of the last campaign, but with two years left on his contract and Arsenal under pressure to NEVER, EVER, EVER let a player run down his contract to anything less than 50 years, there might have been some pressure should Kos have decided to apply it.

That wasn’t the case though, he said:

My idea was to stay at Arsenal. Personally, Barca did not contact me. Maybe they did speak to my agents. But I did not talk to them. They knew my position. I wanted to stay here to continue to develop with this club.

Gotta love that and our early Bart Simpson looking guy, long may his development continue. It will be interesting to see how the centre-half situation plays out over the summer and into the new campaign. With Vermaelen likely to be made captain, does that make him undroppable? It certainly makes it more difficult for the manager to change things around and, while I know people still have reservations about the BFG, I think sometimes a Mertescielny or a Vermesacker partnership would prove to be our best option back there. I guess it’s down to those who start the first games of the season to make it hard for the manager to change. We shall see.

Now, Malaga coach Manuel Pellegrini has spoken about Santi Cazorla’s possible departure, saying:

Selling him for 20million is to gift him away, I don’t think the club is in a position to do that or has the intention to do it. If important offers come in for players they are always worthy of consideration, but I don’t think that for 20million Santi is going to leave the club because it would be, as I said, a gift.

Much as he might try and downplay €20m, it is still a lot of money, far from a gift, and it is exactly the kind of posturing you would expect from a (reluctant) selling club. That said, I remember the Sevilla president, Jose Maria del Nido, suggesting that Arsenal’s £10m offer for Jose Antonio Reyes wouldn’t even buy his boots. It took a bit more money, in fairness, and as it turned out we probably wished we’d only bought his boots in the end so I don’t know exactly what my point is.

Oh yeah, it’s that clubs who want to get the best price possible for a player say things like ‘That’d be gift’ or ‘£10m wouldn’t even buy his boots’ or ‘We want to keep van Persie’. I have no doubt Malaga do want to keep Cazorla though, he’s a quality player, so it’s down to us to make them sell. That means making a bid they just can’t turn down and perhaps being really charming. And sure we’ll throw in a free, barely used SquiChamaParkashvin too. Whatever works.

We’ll have to leave it those who do that kind of thing, but both Spanish pursuits last summer (Cazorla and Mata) ended poorly from our point of view. Let’s hope it’s third time lucky.

Right, that’s yer lot. There’ll be some Tweeting during the game later and news throughout the day on Arseblog News. Back here tomorrow, have a good half day.

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