Today is the day when things really start to pick up ahead of the new season. The squad for the friendly against Barnet at Underhill this afternoon was announced yesterday and is not all that surprising considering the annual game against Barnet usually contains a fair smattering of youth players along with a bit of experience, excluding some of our World Cup players.The squad for the game is as follows (via Arsenal.com):
Manuel Almunia (GK)
Lukasz Fabianski (GK)
While the first game of pre-season is pretty much meaningless in terms of the result and overall performance, it’s all about getting some much needed fitness, but I think we would all like to see the team hit the ground running. It’ll also be our first real chance to get a glimpse of Koscielny and Chamakh in an Arsenal shirt.
On the transfer front, Barcelona have either changed their tune or have slightly altered their tactics in their persistent attempts to prise Cesc away from us. Whether this is because they don’t, at present, have the required cash at hand to make an acceptable offer for our captain, or because they are trying to mend bridges that Laporta not only burned but also put a wad of TNT under just for good measure. Their newly installed president had this to say yesterday:
“Arsenal feel very hurt by Barca. They don’t want to listen to offers or sell and are not putting the player on the market. There was a strong dispute a few months ago and they have not forgotten it. He will arrive, even if it is not now, it will be next year. We will see. One thing that is certain is we will not go mad trying to sign him. No shareholder would pay 60 or 70million Euros for him.”
I think that he is slightly misreading Arsenal’s position, to put it mildly. I am quite sure that the board are more infuriated by Barcelona’s tactics and public wooing of our captain than they are hurt by the whole thing. The final two sentences also say a lot about how much they truly value the player and it must be a bit annoying for the player himself to see Barcelona pursue him like an addict chasing the next fix, but yet to turn around and say that they won’t pay the same kind of money for him that they paid for Ibrahimovic just twelve months ago.
Something just doesn’t jive with their line of thinking. They have to get over the fact that he was once a part of their youth system. He left them when he was in his mid teens. It was Arsenal that turned him into the finished article, not Barcelona. It was Arsenal that gave him his big chance to shine in a starting eleven, not Barcelona. So, Rossell, you and you club should either pay the actual market value of the player, or sod off. You won’t be getting him on the cheap. Also, don’t go blaming the last regime for going about things the wrong way and ‘hurting’ us, then in the same bloody quote say that if you don’t get Cesc this year then you will get him next year. Why I oughta!!
Apart from the game today, which kicks off at 11pm (JST) and is being shown live on ATVO, there isn’t really a whole lot going on. It’s just a great feeling to have Arsenal back again. The beauty of the World Cup is that it made the time without Arsenal pass quickly, which is always a good thing.
Just remember, the overall performance today isn’t what the boss is looking for, it’s fitness and a good run-out. If, as a by-product, we play well, great. Of course, I would love to see them score six or seven, but will settle for just being able to sit on my sofa and watch a pixelated stream of The Arsenal.
That’s about that for today. I’m writing this at 11am (JST), which is 3am on Friday night in the UK, so there aren’t many stories in the Saturday papers yet.
Just a reminder about some podcasts to check out during the new season. The first being the Arsecast, from Arseblog, which comes out every Friday during the season and should soon be returning from its summer hiatus. Two other top quality podcasts are the Guardian’s Football Weekly and Chappers’ Premier League podcast. Both feature good banter, insightful views and are a very good listen as they are not club specific, so give a non-biased view of the week in football. Finally, you could also check out 5Live’s Football Daily podcast, which is good for a quick round-up of the day in football but can often contain the annoying and retarded views of those such as David Pleat and John Motson, but its Monday Night Club (on Mondays, funnily enough) and Kicking Off (on Fridays) are worth a listen.
Have a good one and enjoy the return of The Arsenal. A sunny summer day beckons.