Fixtures are out : Juventus are insulting : Do Arsenal want a cassette swap?

Morning all. Even though the old season has barely just finished, we’re already looking ahead to the next one thanks to the release of the fixtures which took place yesterday.

Before we get into that, I can see people starting to get a bit antsy about what’s going on at Arsenal right now, which appears to be not very much. However, it’s worth remembering that the post-season internationals have only just finished, players are taking their holidays, and there’s still a good two months before things kick-off again.

I know they’ve said lots of things, and there are lots of things to do between now and the start of the new season, but unless you give yourself some time off from worrying, you’ll end up with an ulcer that will probably get perforated, and before your hair even has a chance to go fully and prematurely grey, you’ll die from the rancid ulcer juice that will poison your system. Nobody needs that.

Am I confident they will do all the things they said they were going to do? Not especially, but then there’s nothing I can do about it, so I’m not going to get stressed out about it just yet. We’ve got loads of time to do that, so for now I’m just going to enjoy this wonderful time of year when the temperature in this country rises above ‘bone-chilling’ for a little bit, and from time to time the rains the stop.

Anyway, the fixtures. We start with a home game against Leicester City, followed by two away games at Stoke and Liverpool. We play Chelsea away in early September, Man City and Sp*rs in November, and a whole pile of games in December.

There’s some analysis of the fixtures here, and I suppose the really interesting thing is how, after five of our six Europa League group games, we play our next Premier League game away from home. When you consider those five fixtures are Chelsea, Everton, Manchester City, Burnley, and Southampton it shows that we’re going to have to think very carefully about how we approach our European football next season.

I still think it’s a tournament that we should take seriously. Our consistent Champions League underachievement means we cannot afford to be snobby about a European trophy, but the group stages should allow us to use our squad to its fullest extent. I would expect a fair amount of rotation for those games, especially now that we know the subsequent fixtures are going to be that challenging. We will have to keep our powder dry for the more important league games, but it’s about finding the balance.

Meanwhile, on the transfer front things seem quiet. Juventus have shown how much they think of Arsenal’s negotiating team by making a bid of around €4m or €5m for Wojciech Szczesny. Frankly, that’s laughable. But I’m not laughing. Maybe I’m doing a disdainful ‘HAH’ while flicking my head upwards as a sign of how I’m not taking this seriously at all, but that’s about it.

I wouldn’t sell them half of him for that. Not that I would suggest we cut our goalkeepers up into portions like chickens or anything, but it’s just to make the point. If it were up to me I wouldn’t sell him at all, but it doesn’t look as if we’re inclined to keep him. So, if they have to move him on, how about getting the right price for him? And if nobody offers what we think he’s worth, we could keep him and give him the second chance I think he deserves.

There are also reports that the Lyon president Jean Michel Aulas was in London with his advisor Gerard Houllier to meet with Arsenal over Alexandre Lacazette and Olivier Giroud. I mean, it seems a very Arsenal thing to do to pay £60m for a player we could probably have signed for half that in any of the last few summers, so I wouldn’t discount it completely.

Perhaps, if Lyon are interested in a swap deal for Giroud that would lower the Lacazette price it might make more sense, and keep more money in the coffers, but still so much depends on who else is staying or going this summer – primarily Alexis Sanchez. Will we be able to glean anything about his situation by the other business we do? It’s hard to say, but Lacazette is hardly any kind of replacement for him, so I guess we’ll just have to wait until the all-important Confederations Cup is over to get some clarity.

Right, not a lot else this morning other than to say thanks to everyone who made Arsecast Extra 179 the number 1 sports podcast episode on iTunes in the UK this week. The listens, downloads, reviews and everything else are greatly appreciated.

Right, as ever we’ll have all the news over on Arseblog News throughout the day. More from me tomorrow.