The final game of the pre season against Manchester City later today will be our first real test this summer, or at least on paper it should be our most difficult match to date. It has been quite interesting that all the teams we have faced so far have been further ahead in their fitness than we have. You have to assume that has been a deliberate plan to speed up our quest for match fitness.
I am eager to see where we are in terms of fitness and sharpness against big spending Manchester City, I am also interested to see what sort of team we field today because I'm pretty sure it will be close to the team that will take to the field when we face Liverpool on the first day of the season. I am pretty sure that a few betting websites will be backing Liverpool after they thumped Barcelona, the PL though will be very different.
It's been a mix and match affair so far over the last few games and the manager will need to get the understanding sharpened up between the core players of the squad.
The areas of the pitch that will the get the most amount of focus will be the centre back pairing, the central midfield trio and of course who plays as our centre forward on the first day of the season.
Theo Walcott has been a big talking point over recent weeks. A combination of his performances, a lack of a new striker and his recent comments about wanting to play wide again has meant there is no avoiding the spotlight for Theo these days.
So here is my take on the situation, it seems obvious that Theo is struggling right now on the pitch and has done so for a while now. He looks to me like a player who has never really had a position. He saw himself as a striker playing as a winger to learn his trade but he never developed the qualities to become a central striker, especially as a lone striker with two wide players either side.
His pace and finishing were qualities that were very useful for the position he dreamed of playing in but the rest of his game never materialised, or at least hasn't to date. At 27 it is difficult to imagine him acquiring all the missing ingredients needed to become a top class consistent striker.
Even with his obvious limitations as a player, Theo Walcott may still have turned into a good striker but I wonder how much of an impact his cruciate ligament of his left knee had on him.
I remember a game against Aston Villa after he had returned where he was put through on goal only for the Villa defender to catch him up and make the tackle. I can't remember the players name now, but I found that a really weird moment. I couldn't ever remember a time where Theo was through and then subsequently caught by a defender. Like never!
Theo Walcott told us that he had been working in the gym and was faster than before but I have my doubts. Theo's added muscle made him less mobile in my opinion and he was not getting away from players the way he used to. I think his injury caused him to lose some of his speed, in the game against Tottenham where he picked up his injury he looked sharp and may have kicked on from that if that injury did not take place, we will never know now.
So in 2016/17 he finds himself in an awkward position because he doesn't actually have his own position. He does not have all the requisite tools to thrive out wide. Whether that be ball retention, defensive output or creativity and as a central striker he lacks the ability to link the game together and play with his back to goal in tight spaces.
If he turns it around I will be surprised and chuffed to bits because I do not understand the anger generated his way by so many. The need for a scapegoat is one that I do not subscribe to. With Mathieu Flamini and amazingly Mikel Arteta gone from the club, I guess there needs to be a new poster boy, and Theo is in the right place at the right time for that role I guess.
Yes I am sure Theo Walcott is not where we, the manager or indeed the player thought he would be at this stage of his career and if circumstances were different then a clean slate and move away would probably be the best for all concerned but he is an Arsenal player, one who has been here for a long time now.
When Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri forced their way out of the club, I remember a number of Arsenal fans screaming that we need to offer Walcott 'whatever it takes', 'get it done' or whatever phrases that are thrown around nowadays.
It just goes to show how difficult it can be to make tough decisions in real life and not just about the here and now.
Anyway one thing we do know is that a new centre forward is still very important and Arsene's comments have come under some scrutiny but there is nothing new there. Whatever way he or Gazidis says anything these days, gets flipped around to mean our club is in a crisis or some sort.
Wenger said: “You never know when you have an opportunity, so you have to always be on alert, day and night, and when it comes you have to catch it.”
I find the above comments quite interesting, interesting because I wrote a series of Tweets last week..
This is my theory on our striker hunt. Arséne hinted that deals will be done late in the window. Clearly there are not many good (1/5)— Mean Lean (@arsenalvision) July 31, 2016
strikers on the market. Is the following plausible? So Arsenal get wind of club x (rich club) looking to bring in player a from club (2/5)— Mean Lean (@arsenalvision) July 31, 2016
y. Once that is done it means that club x have a very good striker perhaps surplus to requirements. Arsenal have already talked to (3/5)— Mean Lean (@arsenalvision) July 31, 2016
the agent of player from club x. Maybe this is why there is nothing is in the public eye and why we are playing the waiting game. (4/5)— Mean Lean (@arsenalvision) July 31, 2016
Just throwing that out there. (5/5)— Mean Lean (@arsenalvision) July 31, 2016
I don't buy the notion that Arsenal are sitting around, swinging around in swivel chairs, eating pizza waiting for a random player to ring our phone. As I mentioned in my tweet, I bet Arsène has a player or players in mind that he is confident will be on the move towards the end of the window. Football managers probably have more trustworthy tip offs than Twitter I reckon.
So maybe, just maybe we have spoken to Mr Striker from strikersville and his agent and the wages feelers have been put out there a long time ago. Maybe Mr Striker's club are already in talks with Mr Otherstriker from strikerstown and the dominoes will fall towards the end of the window.
This happened with Alexis albeit earlier in the window but the dominoes still had to fall. If Barcelona were not buying Luis Suarez they would not have sold Alexis Sanchez to us. The same goes for Mesut Özil when they bought Gareth Bale.
Now I want to add two caveats here. Firstly I would have much preferred we had a new striker already at the club, already training with his team mates and ready to score a couple of hat tricks against City and the Liverpool. But I suspect that Arsène Wenger would prefer the same thing.
Secondly if we really do not have a plan and Ivan, Arsène and Dick are in fact munching on Pizza then I will go on Ebay and order myself some high quality pitchforks. I will even create some more broken cannons on Photoshop so we can all be nice and angry together. In the meantime I want to know how we look come the close of the window rather than the start of a long season.
There will be plenty of late business this summer and I fully expect us to be a part of that.
Right gotta dash, taking the family to Poole to enjoy some sunshine. You have a most lovely day.
'til the next time.