Morning all and welcome to a brand new week. The Asia tour is over and a travel weary Arsenal side drew 2-2 with Kitchee FC yesterday.
We went behind twice and equalised first through Theo Walcott and secondly via young German Thomas Eisfeld. That’s was his second goal of pre-season and of all the youngsters who got playing time he looks to have made the most impact. Arsene said of him:
He is composed, intelligent, mobile and he makes the game come alive. Every time he came on you could see something straight away. He has an impact on the game. He makes himself available and his passing is intelligent and he is good in the box. You cannot teach a player that. He earns maximum points on this trip.
Quite the endorsement, but whether it’s enough to force himself into the first team plans remains to be seen. I suspect it might be a bit too soon for him and perhaps a loan move might be just thing to aid his development. Anyway, it was a good trip for him and I guess as part of the work we need to do to get match fit, playing three games isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
However, due to the cancellation of the Nigerian game, scheduled for August 5th, we only have one more pre-season fixture between now and the opening of the new Premier League campaign. It seems it’s too late to organise something ‘official’ and the manager says if an opponent can’t be found for a behind closed door friendly, a game involving the whole squad will be the way they’ll make up the shortfall.
I decided to have one game behind closed doors to try and get a good opponent but at the moment it will be behind closed doors against ourselves. I have organised a training camp in Germany ahead of the Cologne game. It is a little bit unusual for us.
And this is where the balance needs to be found in pre-season. There is absolutely no reason why the club shouldn’t try to use tours as a commercial venture. It gives fans the chance to see the team who would never normally get to see them play, it opens us up to new markets, the players enjoy a new experience, but we ought not to forget that first and foremost pre-season is about getting the team ready for a new season.
With so many players left back in London because of the Euros, some players injured and then the African fixture leaving a big hole in our plans, you wouldn’t say it has been ideal from a football preparation point of view. That said, it’s probably easier, from a logistical point of view, to organise a behind closed doors game. At this stage it’d be practically impossible to sort out ticketing, policing and everything else that needs to be done for any public fixture. Hopefully they can sort something out because although match fitness is the primary concern, there’s also a need to let players bed in, get to know their new teammates and so on, and you can’t really do that well if they’re playing against, rather than with, each other.
The manager also spoke about potential departures, suggesting at least three players could be on their way out.
Bendtner, Squillaci and Park will be on their way to go somewhere. Arshavin, it depends. We have to sit together and talks. He could still have a future at the club.
There are stories linking the Russian with a loan move to Fulham, which would necessitate Arsenal paying half his wages (according to the Russian media), but there’s no surprise whatsoever regarding the other three. You’d have to think things are quite advanced for the manager to make such public declarations so let’s hope whatever needs to be done there is done as quickly as possible.
And the return to London re-opens the Robin van Persie saga, like it or not. I don’t know how much there is in the Man United link, we know City want him but Mancini and Marwood are not singing from the same hymn-sheet when it comes to transfers, and the Juventus interest has seemingly cooled, so it’s hard to know what’s going on. With Arsene and Ivan Gazidis back at base it should refocus us on doing what’s best for Arsenal.
I wonder if it has been awkward around the training ground at all, having the captain of the club who so publicly dismissed the manager’s plans around players who have just joined etc, but either way this is a situation which needs to be resolved. I know we, as fans, would like to put deadlines on things, but as sensible and all as it sounds that’s just not the way football works. Otherwise last summer would have been a whole lot less traumatic.
There’s also Theo Walcott’s future to consider. His latest comments about how it might ‘take time’ to sort out his new contract make me feel a bit uneasy. He’s perfectly entitled to try and get the best deal possible for himself, same with any worker at any job. This brinksmanship might well be to get more money out of Arsenal, or it might be to put Arsenal in a position where we have to let him go. With just one year left on his deal I don’t think we can afford to let him go for nothing next summer having put so much work into him. Whether we’ve reaped as much as we sowed is another thing.
But while he’s entitled to do what he feels he needs to do, I’m entitled to think it’s a bit shitty to be honest, and also to wonder if he’s gotten a bit big for his boots (which would explain some of his clumsy touches, ha ha). I could be wrong and if I’m doing him a disservice then I’ll hold my hands up and say so, but I just have a feeling we’re being played a bit and it doesn’t sit well with me.
Anyway, it promises to be a busy week with players going, hopefully some players coming, and the futures of others ready to be sorted out once and for all. It’s a shame there’s no football but hopefully that’s something they can work on too.
Right, that will do it, till tomorrow.