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Arsenal’s first game abroad for the new season, albeit in a friendly ended with a comfortable 3-0 win. Sturm Graz were the opponents and in truth the Europa League qualifiers were totally outclassed by an Arsenal side who were still looking to improve their fitness. It was not a wonderful performance by all means by it was still noteworthy, as half of the first choice players were still to come back after their World Cup exploits.
Samir Nasri’s double strike in the first half effectively ended the contest. Together with Theo Walcott, the Frenchman will be looking to put in a good shift for the coming season just to prove that his non-involvement in the French national side in their disastrous World Cup outing was a wrong choice. More than the goals, he was involve in everything good that Arsenal had going forward. Staying further forward in the midfield triangle, he found space on numerous occasions and was always driving towards goal.
The pairing of the Jack Wilshere and Emmanuel Frimpong was another plus point for Arsene Wenger to consider. The former was sharp with his ball control and distribute it well while the latter was just a bundle of energy and broke just about everything that Sturm Graz tried to do. Frimpong may well be the understudy to Alex Song and have already looked to overshadow Craig Eastmond, despite the latter being involve with the first team throughout last season. If you had watched the game, you could see that Wilshere shares a certain understanding with Andrey Arshavin and that combination could flourish to something resembling what we had before with Thierry Henry, Robert Pires and C*le.
For the second game running, Manuel Almunia have not feature at all in the friendlies. Whether it is due to his injuries or otherwise, probably only Wenger knows. Judging from the pictures taken by the official website, he seemed to be training like normal and his exclusion may well mean other things. Lukazs Fabianski have started both matches thus far and looks likely to be the No. 1 for Arsenal this coming season, unless Wenger plunges into the transfer market for a new keeper.
That indication alone would send shivers in the spine of Arsenal fans. Most remembered him for his flops rather than his saves. I’m no different in that respect but I also do think that Almunia have reached his peak and will not get any better. Fabianski is still young in the age of a goalkeeper and with match experience and a longer stay in the first team, he could get better. Up till now, he has not really had a run of games to show his true worth. There must be something that the coaching staff and Wenger see in him to still keep him on the books at Arsenal despite some of his well-documented howlers.
We’ve seen Wenger being ruthless especially to keepers who make mistakes. Jens Lehman, Alex Manninger, Richard Wright and Stuart Taylor; just to name a few. If Fabianski is the choice for the new season, so be it. I will admit that it does not give me much confidence but I’m more than willing to back him for at least 10 continuous games and see how he goes from there. There is no clear cut choice yet, but competition from Vito Mannone and Wojciech Szczesny will only keep Fabianski on his toe. Watch this space.
That’s all for today. More tomorrow. Have a nice day.