Wednesday, October 5, 2022

The Asian tour begins, lots of issues still remain

Good morning, welcome to a fairly quick Sunday round-up.

After a pretty quiet summer things exploded into life yesterday with an Arsene Wenger interview on the official site which touched on pretty much everything we’d have liked it to, but I don’t think the boss said anything hugely unexpected.

The squad was announced for the Asian tour and as expected Robin van Persie is not on the plane. ‘Fitness’ is the cited reason and is made vaguely more credible by the absences of players like Giroud, Koscielny, Mertesacker and Podolski who were at the Euros. All the same, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott have both made the journey and they were as Euro as any of the others who didn’t travel.

Other absences include injured players like Wilshere, Rosicky, Sagna and Frimpong, all of whom look set to miss the start of the season. Henri Lansbury was due to go but has picked up a shin problem, while Arshavin and Bendtner were left behind too, perhaps under the auspices of post-Euro fitness, but it’s just as likely that they’re in the process of finding new clubs. It means, on paper at least, that the squad isn’t as strong as it might be. Just two strikers, Benik Afobe and Marouane Chamakh have traveled, and with all due respect I wouldn’t expect either to play much for us next season. The former seems the ideal candidate for a loan to aid his development, the latter, well, we’ve been there plenty this summer – he needs a new club.

Some might bemoan so many absences from the tour but if these players really do need to work on their fitness and conditioning then staying back is probably the right thing to do. These are just pre-season games, after all, but with just one fixture scheduled post-Asian tour and before the new season begins, perhaps we need to get something else sorted to replace the cancelled Nigeria game to give some of the players match practice.

While the tour itself is a commercial venture for the most part, we do have to make sure we’re fit and ready for the new campaign, and what we’ve got prepared from a footballing point of view seems a touch light at this moment in time. No doubt there’ll be moves to sort that out, you always feel the tours are something of a compromise from the manager who has always preferred the more sedate surroundings of Austria for our pre-season, and ultimately, in spite of commercial benefits, it is about preparing the football team for the new season.

Obviously the subject of Robin van Persie came up and Arsene said:

For me, Van Persie is one of the best strikers in the world, if not the best, and my desire is to keep him at the club.

As for the rest I will do what is in the best interests of Arsenal Football Club. That, at the moment, is where we are. There is not a lot more to say than that.

Of course there was a lot more to say than that, if you follow the link, but I don’t really know what else he could have said about the Dutchman. Anything other than stating a very public willingness to keep him means negotiations with the three teams who apparently want to buy him are weakened. It is all posturing, all part of the game, and Arsene knows as well as anyone else what’s likely to happen. He just can’t say it.

Talk of a £30m fee is part of it too. There’s no chance we’ll get that kind of money for him, at least not from two of the clubs involved, but suggesting we’ll play hardball (which we might) is all for show. At the end of the day van Persie has made his position more or less untenable and it’s now just a matter of getting the deal which is, as Arsene says, ‘in the best interests of Arsenal Football Club.’

I think pretty much everything that needs to be said about van Persie has already been said, until the point of his departure, and unless something changes drastically, it feels like we’re stomping over old ground. With the summer progressing though, it’d be good to get this thing resolved once and for all. We’ve got to concentrate on the things, and the players, that really matter. No doubt we’ll hear plenty during the week with three matches, and one of them against Man City too.

The armband has already been handed over to Thomas Vermaelen who will captain the team on tour (ahead of his acrimonious departure next summer), and I suspect Mikel Arteta will be appointed vice-captain. I’d expect to hear from them at some point as the players do the press stuff and post-game interviews, so it’ll be interesting to hear their thoughts on what’s going on.

In other round-uppy kind of news, Ju Young Park is attracting interest from Al Ain in the Emirates while talk of a Ryo Miyaichi move to Ajax has been played down by Frank de Boer. And finally, Arsene talks about what Olivier Giroud will bring to the team (besides abs of steel).

That’s that, have a good Sunday, back tomorrow.

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