Good morning/afternoon to you. Believe me I’ve tried, but up to this point in time, there’s not a single picture available from yesterday’s first training session back with all the big boys. Perhaps it will be up on the official website later, who knows. But I’m sure we’ll like to see how Nicklas Bendtner reacts to the presence of Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud at the training ground. Probably trading underpants tips.
There are also no updates from the Robin van Persie front and what will happen to his future. Though a new angle has emerged and this is via Sam Wallace of The Independent. He somehow got whiff of RvP’s preference and that is for him to move to Juventus than to either of the Manchester clubs. Maybe Kees Vos has been whispering something in his ears. The reason is I believe, is to gauge responses.
RvP would be mad not to notice the kind of response that he had been getting from Arsenal fans, either on his own website or on his twitter account. Heck, even his wife was getting a lot of feedback from the fans. Thankfully, many of those that I’ve seen to have tweeted to Bouchra were largely respectful of her. For someone who’s so aware of fans perception, maybe RvP wants to rebuild some of that bridge. The easiest way to that is not to move to another club in the Premier League. So, hopefully that works out.
There’s no denying the talent and the quality that RvP brings to the team. After all the damage that he has done by releasing that statement, it would be a remiss not to understand that without him, Arsenal do lack a little bite going forward. However, as in the case with the departures of Thierry Henry and Cesc Fabregas, hopefully it would release the team a little and new stars could shine through. One of those could be Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
The youngster who showed a lot of promise in his cameo appearances last season, is raring to go already. As mentioned in yesterday’s Arseblog, the rise to prominence of AOC could be the very reason why Theo Walcott is contemplating a move away from the club. AOC accumulated 26 appearances in all competitions for Arsenal last season. Out of which, 15 of those are starts. A healthy and encouraging return from a player who is turning 19 next month and was playing in League One in 2010/11 season.
Based on what we’ve seen thus far, it’s not hard to see the potential in AOC and how he possesses much more than Walcott in terms of footballing capabilities. I’m not diminishing the qualities that Walcott brings. One of which is Walcott’s defensive awareness, which is better than AOC. This however, is actually more of an appreciation of what AOC will bring to the squad.
Central midfield is his preferred position but he has exceptional qualities that serves him well in wide positions. Pace and dribbling skills are his finest assets. The ability to just pick up the ball and run at the defenders, a skill set which defenders are not fond of. However, I think his greatest attribute at the moment is his fearlessness. He takes on one/two/three players at one go and most of all, not afraid to take a shot at goal. Don’t worry, we still have time to train that out of him and get him to walk the ball into the net.
His call-up to the full national squad and being rewarded with a starting place against France in the opening game for England at the European Championship is another indication of his progress. From the interviews and how he handles himself in public, it’s fair to say that we’ve got ourselves a very level-headed, yet remarkably talented young footballer. Hence, it’s hard to find any reason to protect AOC and not use/play him when he’s fit.
That is not to say that he should start every game. At this point in time we cannot discount Walcott still being in the side. Unless there’s a major shortage of personal in midfield either through injury or suspension, AOC looks likely to fight for a place on the wide forward positions. That is, unless Arsene Wenger switches formation. Which should mean direct competition with Gervinho, Podolski and also Walcott. 4 players to rotate around for a season’s worth of competitions sounds very good to me.
Given his international credence and his past achievements, I think Podolski is a nailed-on starter on the left sided berth. That is if Wenger does intend to use him there and not as the main striker. Which leaves the right sided berth for 3 players to slog it out for. There will be game time for AOC, that’s for sure. In fact, I believe that he’s good enough to ensure that Gervinho and Walcott spend a lot of time on the bench.
It’s not about putting enormous expectations on a pair of young shoulders. It’s about expecting a talented youngster to show week in, week out what he’s capable of.