So after what feels like 16 weeks without football, we’re out the other end gearing up for a what I’m hoping will be a thrilling return to football. Swansea head on over, brimming with naive new team enthusiasm, whilst our squad turn up hoping to banish the demons of the Manchester United spanking they were served up a few weeks ago.
This is a big game for us. We need to show there is form without Cesc and Nasri. We need to pull ourselves together, gel quickly and get this season back on the road.
On the injury front, Rosicky is a doubt with a knee injury. We’re missing, Wilshere, Diaby, Ryo, Vermaelen, Squillaci, Song, Gervinho, and Jenkinson.
So, that gives me the task of picking out a side I have, in the main, never seen before!
Sagna Mertesacker Koscielny Gibbs
Frimpong Arteta Benayoun
Arshavin Robin Theo
It really is too tough to call.I’m not sure where I see him playing Benayoun. From memory, he plays very well just in the hole. Will he elect for Arshavin when he’s in such dire form, or will he slip Park in there (he must be available if he’s not listed as otherwise on the site)? I’m not even sure he’ll play the same system he has been. From the stats, we know Arteta creates plenty of chances, but enough to replace Cesc’s vision? I’m not so sure. Either way it’s going to be interesting!
I think I’m most excited to see how Mertesacker slots into the side. How dominant can he be in the penalty box? How quickly will he take control of what we’re doing at the back? I think he’ll compliment the pace and attacking style of Koscielny, but he really does need to make sure he leads on marking and organising. We’ve got 3 players in that back line who have an aversion to talking to each other.
In the middle, I have no worries about Frimpong getting sent off today. The game isn’t intense enough. This is a good chance for him to get his positioning in order. Robin and Theo could have a field day out there. I’m sure we’ll see plenty of the Englishman cutting inside and using his pace to burn Swansea’s green back 4.
The coach was in a chatty mood yesterday, he reckons he could write a book about the summer he’s just had and he says it was more difficult than we imagine. From what I gather, he’s referring to the fact that we were hardballed by both City and Barcelona. They forced the transfers to take as long as they did by not offering what we wanted by a long shot from the start. Now, I can understand us waiting it out for Samir as that was an important deal to force through. I still don’t understand why we were in a situation where we couldn’t have taken more control with Barcelona.
‘It’s like in a company. When you’re half-in and half-out, it’s not as good as if you’re complete in. That happened at the start of the season.’
A very true statement. I’m not sure I’d want to be going into the season with a massively unhappy captain, we’ve seen first hand what that’s done for Spurs. At the same time though, I’m not happy Barcelona are telling the world they landed a great deal. It’s a touch embarrassing that we were out haggled when the power resided with us.
I find Wenger’s insistence that he couldn’t sign players before the last 24 hours a bit strained as well. Hardly any of the reasons made sense. He claims that he could only move late on Park and Santos when he knew Traore and Nik B were leaving. Why? Neither signing raised any sort of substantial revenue. He knew both were going all summer. Why couldn’t Park and Santos have been picked up early in the season? The most interesting part was what I told you the other day about the Vermaelen injury…
‘I knew as well that Vermaelen would have surgery the week before Manchester United so we needed to buy a centre-back.’
It’s unbelievable that Wenger would have gone into the next three months without a new centre back if TV hadn’t picked up a new injury. We were all sitting there wondering if Wenger would rue the mistake not to sign Cahill, instead he sits there and tells us Mertesacker was the response to the problem! Unbelievable really. He had no intention of improving the defence this summer.
‘Of course I’m not the only one who controls things [in this situation]. It’s the clubs who buy, the players as well, the determination of the players, because they change sometimes their mind as well.’
The above point was also interesting. One would assume our constant dithering on salaries and fees is the coaches reference point. As far as I’m aware, Alvarez and Mata were down to our cock ups and as we’ve reported before, flapping around in January is what cost us Phil Jones. I was also party to a very amusing story about another one of our transfer ‘nearly’ cock ups for a certain young player that I’ll tell you if ever join me for a pre-match beer.
Lessons need to be learnt this summer. A review of what went wrong and why it went wrong needs to be conducted so the board don’t make the same mistakes next season. It doesn’t happen at other clubs in the main and it shouldn’t be happening at ours. We also need to review how these contract problems keep happening to us. How many more players are we going to allow into their last year before we start tackling it? Remember, Theo, Robin, Song and Vermaelen could all find themselves in Nasri’s situation next summer. 60% of our outfield starting line up could be gone in a year. Not good.
The season is well underway now, the excitement of the window is behind us, so I’d like to take a few sentences to remind people that the comments section of Le Grove is probably one of most read in the Arsenal blogosphere, generally because the views that are expressed back and forth are interesting and well thought out.
I meet people out who tell me they watch the comments all day. The Grover’s who post are of huge importance to the ongoing success as a blog, some of you have been dropping regular comments for the full four years. Now, some of the comments have been getting out of hand lately, the comments section is not a free for all. Please remember you are in a public arena and think about what you post. Have an opinion by all means, just don’t lower the tone. It’s a football forum, keep it about Arsenal, save you slurs for the opposition. I see you all as friends, the last thing I want to do is stop people enjoying themselves on the site…
First game of September is today, I’m excited, you’re excited, the new players will be nervous. Lets put on a great show and a massive two fingers up to Samir Nasri… let’s tear the roof off the ground and forget the past 3 months. There’s a real sense of renewed hope. We’ve got experience, we’ve got some class in and for me, the only way is forward!
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