Good morning, welcome to a brand new week and another round of the Robin van Persie affair. Like it or not, it is dominating proceedings and it’s more irritating than getting up on a Monday morning with a hangover to listen to your dog chew a plant pot right beside your feet.
Yesterday, the manager re-iterated his desire to keep van Persie:
Van Persie is a world-class striker and I am a big supporter of him. I have supported him through his whole career. He has one year left and is in demand but our desire is to keep him.
Nicely played, Arsene. ‘Throughout his whole career’, I like it. Injuries, lack of discipline, lack of form, more injuries, some more injuries and possibly some injuries, Arsene has been there. But there’s a however.
However, we will do what is in best interest of the club. If you have a decoder in your head you can decode that.
Do you need a decoder though? Do you really? No, you don’t. Frankly, van Persie needs a good slap in his ungrateful face and then told to leave this place at once. I don’t think his departure is even a question, it’s just a matter of when and, it seems, Arsene has put a deadline on it.
The official transfer deadline is August 31 but then we can create an internal deadline. I believe the transfer market should stop before the season starts anyway.
Which will lead people to say it’ll be 3 seconds before the first game of the season before we sort this out. And that will come 3 seconds after Giroud and Podolski have been diagnosed with super-polio, advanced biliousness and hyper diphtheria. Timing is key. But look, at least there’s some kind of deadline – even if it is imaginary – and with any luck it’ll happen sooner rather than later. The R, V and P keys on my keyboard are getting worn out.
Meanwhile, Arsene says that this pre-season is critical for the future of Abou Diaby. We all know his injury record has prevented him from progressing as a player, his inability to shake off the problems he’s got restricted him to just a few minutes in total last season, but the manager is happy to have him back.
This tour is another decider for him. He will play on Tuesday night and now it is down to uncontrolled movement in games: how does your body react to that? I am confident with what I have seen in training that he will do it.
You can’t imagine how happy I am firstly to have him in the squad, because he is an exceptional player.
While it’s good to have as many players fit and healthy as possible, I think people will remain skeptical of Diaby’s ability to have an impact on this team until he proves himself capable of playing 10, 15, 20 games in a row. To be honest, I’d like to see a midfield signing but the manager has more or less ruled that out. Asked about Yann M’Vila, he said:
No . We wait on Diaby and Wilshere. When you look we have Song, Ramsey, Coquelin, Wilshere, Arteta and Diaby.
In defensive midfielders and box-to-box players we are not short if they are all coming back. If we have setbacks in pre-season it could be different.
Which suggests he’s going to go with what he has in that department. He can add Rosicky (once fit again)and Oxlade-Chamberlain to the midfield mix too and I guess he’s trying to ensure that when Jack Wilshere comes back he’ll have a route to the first team which isn’t blocked by a new, high profile signing. Personally, I think counting on Diaby is something of a gamble, and we know that Jack’s return is going to slow, steady and phased, so it’s up to the manager to decide if what’s he’s got is enough until he’s really back in the swing of things – not to mention the fact he’s got to consider if Wilshere’s return will be permanent or punctuated by the kinds of problems players have when they’re out for such an extended period.
Still, it remains an opportunity for Diaby to prove a useful member of the squad. Possibly the last opportunity too, from the sound of what Arsene is saying. While retaining faith in a player and supporting him through injuries is admirable, there’s only so long you can do it before you have to make a decision which is, as the manager might say, in the best interests of Arsenal FC. Let’s see how he goes.
Steve Bould’s impact on first team affairs appears to have been immediate with Wojciech Szczesny hoping it will lead to defensive improvement for the season ahead. He says:
He has been doing a lot of defensive work on the training pitch, which has been very good so far I believe, so hopefully we will concede less as well, which is my personal hope anyway. Hopefully this year we can have a settled back four, a strong bench as well, and concede less goals.
As I said, with the work Steve Bould has been doing so far, it’s looking positive.
Quite how much of what he was taught as a member of the famous back four will be passed on during training I guess we won’t know, but that there’s a focus on some of the defensive issues we have is good. Hopefully he’ll remind them that defending is not the sole responsibility of the back four and it must be a team effort. I do think the point about injuries is crucial too though. I don’t think any team would have coped with having their four first choice full backs out of action for as long as we did last season, so just plain old fitness might be enough to start the improvement. Fingers crossed.
Ok, that’s enough to kick the week off. The first real game of pre-season is on tomorrow. Here we go again.