Written by Mean Lean on Tuesday, 07 August 2012 14:09
Before writing an article, I tend to have a category in mind so when finished I can drop it in the right place. Whether that be a round up blog of the ins and outs of the club and team or a general piece about a specific topic, it is usually pretty clear before I enter the first key. Today I have no idea what I am writing as it is all pretty much jumbled up in my head and before we kick the next ball in Germany I feel I need to cleanse my mind.
Without going too much around the houses, this is pretty much why and how I started to write Arsenal Vision in the first place. *In my best old mans voice* back in the day, we didn't have the likes of Twitter and other such platforms to express ourselves and share our thoughts. Before my rather shoddy first HTML pages went online there were only the fraction of Arsenal blogs that we see today clogging up our RSS feeds. Back in 2005 I felt much in the way I do right now. Full of question, thought and excitement and a need to write it down.
In typical football supporting style contradiction, it was only a few weeks ago that I wrote my last piece, a rather depressing view on how I disliked the direction that the game was going in. In many ways that is very much the case but like I said in the piece, it is easy to dislike the game but very much the opposite when it comes to our football club.
The Arsenal players travelled to Germany last night to prepare for the pre season friendly with FC Koln as well as Arsene's plan B training camp to make up for the vacant Nigerian tour. It is quite amazing really that contingency plans were not put in place at the time especially considering that we have never travelled to Nigeria during pre season.
But hey, this is not really the time for moaning and groaning. Why? because we have three new signings mingling with their new team mates. Lukas Podolski, Oliver Giroud and probably the most exciting of the bunch, Santiago Cazorla. I haven't even mentioned Arsene's yearly new signing Abou Diaby.
It is fantastic to see the club going about its business in typical Arsenal way. Bringing in quality players for reality prices. We could have put all our eggs in one basket and spent the lot on Eden Hazard but instead we have brought in three top internationals for roughly the same price.
Many Gooners online have said that the club have learnt their lessons from last year but the only bloggers that I have read that have similar views to mine on last summer are Tim from 7am Kick Off and the excellent Poznan in my pants. Is it a coincidence that the year that we have finished in the automatic Champions League places, we have gone and spent some facking money? Last summer we relied on Champions League qualification and departing players to allow us to reinvest in the squad.
We had already spent transfer fees and wages on Gervinho, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Carl Jenkinson and when Barcelona and Manchester City finally came up with the goods, the shelves in the transfer supermarket were bare. Arsene was still able to find a golden Arteta on the discount counter and a fresh Mertesacker in the stock cupboard.
Ivan Gazidis' comments about 'keeping some powder dry' makes much more sense now. Arsene wanted the likes of Cazorla, Mata. M'Vila, Hazard and others but as I say, his targets had already gone or the selling club did not want to sell at such late notice.
The assumption that a man of Arsene Wenger's experience in management was not aware that buying early helped with preparation for the new season does not sit well with me at all. A man who lives by his stop watch, by routine and preparation. Not buying it i'm afraid.
Last season's sells as well as guaranteed Champions League income has allowed Arsene Wenger to do what he would have wanted last summer and previous years that we finished in fourth position.
Which makes me want to call Kieran Gibbs over and ask him for a big hug. He may look puzzled and ask me what that was for, just like in so many movies that all copy the same bloody lines. I would say for THAT tackle against West Brom. Without that tackle another club may have picked up Santi Cazorla. Without that tackle we may have kissed goodbye to Champions League football and who knows, Tottenham could have a picture of Cazorla holding up the Tottenham shirt on their home page *violently vomits*
So anyway, enough going over tired old ground, let us talk about the new green lush ground that is in front of us. We have worked so well thus far and potentially even better if Nuri Sahin (pronounced Shahin) makes his loan switch to Arsenal with a possible permanent switch on the cards if Real Madrid have their arm bent enough.
Our work has been so good that a departing Robin van Persie won't result in most Gooners lying flat on the floor thumping the ground with tears streaming down their faces. It is for most people, a case of do you want to be a part of this great exciting club? If not there is the door and close it gently on your way out because Cazorla, Podolski and Giroud are trying to focus.
I have this funny image in my head of the Arsenal squad crowding around the new players with van Persie face to the floor kicking the stray strands of grass mumbling to himself 'They used to do that to me!'
Jokes aside, I like many Gooners have been through the full range of emotions regarding our current captain. From weeping to wanting to drive him to the airport myself, as long as he paid for the petrol of course. Now, I am willing to accept the kick in the nuts as the pain has eased slightly to just the memory of the pain and I can handle that if he extends his deal and continues producing what he has in the last 18 months for the remainder of his contract then surely that is in the best interests of the club. Selling him to Manchester United because he bad mouthed the club feels like cutting off our nose to spite our face. That said, we may not have much of a choice if he really does not want to be here.
What keeping hold of RVP does is bide a bit of time for the likes of Oliver Giroud to adjust to life in Arsenal and English football. Two things that need adjustments and not just the one that many think. Our style of play requires plenty of practice and the team can only function correctly when the team are in sync with each other. We saw that it took the likes of Arteta, Mertesacker, Santos, Gervinho and company a good few weeks before we saw anything like our best form. Throwing Cazorla, Podolski and Giroud (perhaps even Sahin) into that mix may see some more early season 1st gear driving until the gearbox unsticks and our game is played more instinctively. Chelsea probably have even more adjusting to do than ourselves and I expect that to be shown in their early games.
The Theo Walcott contract saga is also puzzling, well not puzzling just rather unsettling. I do wonder if this along with potentially Alex Song has some sort of link to Robin van Persie. I have absolutely no proof that this is the case but it is a nagging feeling that I cannot shake off.
Darren Dein has swung his arm around the shoulders of our charismatic box to box, assist master Alex Song and Barcelona have begun their rather transparent attempts to tap Alex Song on his backside. Hey current Barcelona player what do you think of Alex Song joining you? 'Oh yeah, I've been told to be very complimentary about him from my bosses so we cannot be accused of tapping up'
We have a little more leeway with Song compared to van Persie and Walcott due to his contract running out a year or two later depending on which reports you read. Does Arsene want Sahin as a replacement for Song? I don't believe in coincidences and it appears that Arsenal players who are represented by Dein appear to find a way out. It is more likely that Sahin has been targeted to allow Jack Wilshere a patient and full recovery.
The idea of Wilshere, Sahin, Cazorla amongst the other midfielder's all playing their part is rather mouthwatering but before any of that we need to sort out what the current players want. The quicker that is sorted, the better.
At least the ball is pretty much in our court, we have a squad full of talent both established and promising, along with any cash that will head our way should players depart so there is no reason why we cannot be competitive even if the worst came to the very worst and we saw Theo, Song and van Persie head out. We are adding experienced talent and those in search of greener grass will be replaced by players of similar levels such as Cazorla and Podolski.
Transfers aside for the moment, there is much to be excited about for the upcoming friendly in Germany, I would like to quickly jot them down to see if anyone else has the same thoughts.
- With Bacary Sagna missing the start of the season the right back slot is likely to be filled by a youngster. Carl Jenkinson and Francis Coquelin deputised at parts last season. I am intrigued to know how our forward players can use his excellent whipped crosses but also interested to know how his positional play develops.
- I feel almost silly for saying this given his injury past but is this the time when Abou Diaby actually comes through a season with a normal amount of injury? For the first time in a while, he is taking part in our pre season and that is the best preparation a player can do for his body before the season starts. He could well start the season in the team and if he can get a run together, gain some momentum then you never know how far he can go. I am a huge admirer of him and feel that we have never seen him at his best due to the stop start nature of his Arsenal career thus far.
- I am looking forward to finding out what Arsene does with the strikers. What happens if van Persie stays and what does Arsene do if the Dutchman does twist. Will Podolski start on the left like we all think. I now have my doubts. I can see him bustling through the middle and smashing in goals for us from the center. The only way I see Giroud starting for us is if van Persie leaves the club, if he doesn't then I just do not see a place for him in the team.
- Gervinho's pre season has been very exciting so far. He looks sharp and direct and I expect him to kick on this season but that said, he needs a regular starting place for him to achieve that improvement. Should our attacking players stay then there will be some big competition, this is without considering the development of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. A year that could see him take huge strides but like Gervinho, he needs games. This only reinforces my fears that a few top players could well be leaving the club.
- We have an exciting crop of youngsters and some of those will be on show in our next friendly. Serge Gnabry who has just signed professional terms and also has overcome injuries at the end of last season is an exciting talent who has the chance to prove his worth in front of Arsene Wenger. Eisfeld, Coquelin, Chamberlain and a few others also have a chance to impress.
- Like I am sure everybody else, I am desperate to know where Arsene will deploy a certain Santiago Cazorla. I would love to see him playing centrally in the advanced position but he could also play as a wide left forward, drifting inside to create chances. I guess a very similar replacement for Andrey Arshavin.
- Gibbs vs Santos at left back. Gibbs has started all the games in pre season at left back so I imagine that he will be the number one but I guess we will see more when Koscielny and Szczesny are in the side.
There are many more but I could go on all day and quite frankly I do not have the time for it.
I am very excited about the season ahead, the most for sometime I'd say. I am looking forward to Sunday so we have even more to talk about.
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