You'll all be proud of me, I have been working over time transforming my 7 year old son into a Gooner. It should have been easier but you know what school friends are like, they are influential. A Chelsea fan and Barcelona fan (yep) had been trying to turn his head but they were no match for me and erm FIFA. FIFA taught him the players squad numbers so much so that he asks to be tested on them from time to time, and I tell you what he knows them all now.
Anyway given that I am self employed and he is on school holidays I thought it would be a great opportunity to take him along to members day at Arsenal stadium. Some really helpful Gooners helped me get tickets and it was touching to see so many Gooners willing to go out of their way to help me. If any of you are reading this then big thank you for that.
He hung his Arsenal shirt over his bed the night before and was looking forward to visiting the Emirates stadium once again. He went to a youth team match against CSKA Moscow last year but without the first team players it isn't quite the same.
We got off at Finsbury Park and walked towards the stadium, he kept asking how far it was until we got there and it took me back to my younger years walking towards Highbury. Smelling the burgers and hot dogs at evening kick offs. We got into the Emirates and took our seats as the players were introduced, the new signings were introduced separately with Alexis getting the loudest cheer.
The players started jogging up and down the pitch and *I thought it interesting that Abou Diaby was going through his own stretching exercises with a separate trainer. Is Abou Diaby secretly injured once more? Or is this part of his new Shad Forsythe inspired plan to keep him fit? You have to wonder as he played against Boreham Wood and then at New York Red Bulls but Arsène had said that the player is not injured so I guess we shall wait and see.
I wondered a few things as I was watching the practice match between the green bibs against the white bibs. How different to training behind closed doors was members day? Did the players act any differently with a crowd watching them?
Expanding on it further I wondered what Arsène looks for during training sessions as that is more than likely where he gets most of his information before selecting his match day teams. So with these thoughts whirling around my head I tried to view the players as perhaps a manager might.
Yaya Sanogo scored twice and seemed in confident mood and you've all seen his goal linking up with Alexis for the green team. Alexis took a high cross field ball down on his back which brought a cheer from the Arsenal faithful. Some of the combinations between Rosicky and Cazorla looked sharp whilst Giroud still looks like he still needs sharpening up.
In the crossing and finishing drills towards the end Sanogo looked the sharpest again, stroking away Chamberlain and Campbell's crosses away with ease.
Given that Sanogo has had a full pre season and his confidence high after his four goals I wouldn't be at all surprised to see him start the season leading the line if Arsène does not want to use Alexis as our centre forward from the beginning.
My boy wanted one of the footballs that were being fired into the crowd at the end but I felt as helpless as a Hull City goalkeeper facing a Santi Cazorla free kick as the balls sailed way past me. He bought an Arsenal hat from the Arsenal shop to make up for it. All in all it was a lovely day out in the sunshine and my boy's allegiance to the Arsenal have been secured further.
* Ahh it turns out that Abou Diaby is in fact injured. It seemed pretty likely didn't it?
Vermaelen on his way?
If rumours are correct then our captain Thomas Vermaelen could be on his way to Barcelona for £15m which seems a pretty good deal. Especially when you consider that a) he is in the last year of his contract and b) our preferred option would be to sell abroad. I'm not especially sad to be truthful but absolutely respect his professionalism in the last 18 months or so. He caught the eye when he first joined because he was all action, committed and scored goals. But these qualities masked his penchant for charging out his position and leaving holes in behind him. Jane Cavendish wrote a great piece about him last year
We will need to replace him for the sake of numbers at least and Arsène has already stated that he would do just that. It will be interesting to see what type of centre back we look to bring in.
Khedira finally crossed off
I did not understand the Khedira rumours from the start so I can stop trying to understand what the boss could be thinking. As he said we don't need another offensive box to box midfielder as that is the area of the squad where we have the most amount of players. Well, kinda makes sense. We need someone to replace Arteta and Flamini. We'll see if that does happen.
Besiktas stand in our way
We have been drawn against Turkish side Besiktas for the CL qualifiers. There were easier games, more comfortable trips but really and truly we should be too good for all the teams over two legs. I'm just glad we didn't draw against Athletic Bilbao which would have been very tough.
In truth I am not too fussed this year for once. Usually I am fretting because we desperately needed the CL revenue but that is not the case anymore thanks to Puma and Emirates. Don't get me wrong I always want Arsenal in the Champions League but if we fail to get in then I shall see it as a great chance to focus our energies on the title.
I love him but I guess you already knew that.
Right I better make tracks and get on with my day. I've got a Your Vision article to respond to and post up before the Community Shield preview. So that should be up either this evening or tomorrow morning.