Hello all. Only less than 24 hours before Arsenal touch down at Kuala Lumpur International Airport. I say 24 just to be safe because I’m not sure what time they arrive. Half hoping one of the players/officials on the tour would tweet something out prior to their flight. As it is with last year, I shall try to bring whatever information/pictures I can get my hands on.
The travelling list for the those on the flight has finally been announced. Henri Lansbury misses out, not because he’s not part of the plans but because he has incurred some injury (see his twitter timeline). Get well soon Henri. As those who will travel some time today, there’s a couple of the bigger names missing. Namely the two new signings, Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud. Mind you, it is not suspicious that Laurent Koscielny is not travelling as well. Giroud without Koscielny, just doesn’t work.
However, Theo Walcott is on that list and so is Abou Diaby. Arsene Wenger says that those not travelling are short on fitness and won’t be competitive. There’s a whole host of Robin van Persie related stories about how he’s not on that list but you’ll get plenty of reading elsewhere, not here. Trying to understand what Wenger said is beyond me. Surely a pre season training is meant to increase the fitness levels. However, they may try to spin it, their matches here (perhaps the one against Manchester City apart) could hardly be labelled as competitive.
As much as it’s about fitness building, pre season for me represents the time to work on the team. Whether that means in terms of the morale or camaraderie of the squad or on the tactical side of things. There’s actually no better ways to build up bonds in the team than by going away on long hauls and staying with each other for a sustained period. I should imagine that any bonds built in the pre season will help Arsenal in the long season ahead. Players will fight/work for each other more and that’s never a bad thing.
Then there’s the part about bedding in those new players and making sure the transition is smooth for some of the younger ones whom the coaching staff think should be part of the first team in the upcoming season. Taking away this tour, that leaves just 2 weeks for the new players (albeit, thus far only the 2) to get in sync with the way we play. One could also look at that as a way of Wenger telling us that both Podolski and Giroud would not be introduced to the team right from the start and we would be easing them into the team.
All that said and done, with the exception or Marouane Chamakh and to a certain extent; Walcott and Lukas Fabianski, all those who are coming are certain to stay with us next season. It is also perhaps telling that neither Nicklas Bendtner nor Andrey Arshavin are in the travelling party. This, despite both having started training with the group since last week. Have to admit that I’m a little disappointed that Bendtner isn’t here. I was hoping that all the talk about RvP wanting out, would actually make Bendtner reverse his decision and stay.
I feel like I want to spend a little time talking about Abou Diaby. Wengers says he’s fit and hopes he can kick on from here. No big secret that I share the same view as the manager. Diaby has had some downright rotten luck with injuries in recent seasons but here’s a big opportunity for him to stake a claim for a starting place. With Aaron Ramsey at the Olympics and Jack Wilshere no where near to his return, there’s a spot in the midfield to be taken. All this on the assumption that Alex Song and Mikel Arteta have nailed their place in the midfield 3 (another assumption being that last season’s formation is retained).
In almost similar fashion, minus the injury, this pre season is also a chance for Gervinho to restart his Arsenal career. That would be the way I sum up his first season with us. It is not easy making the switch from Ligue 1 to the Premier League but on the overall scale of things, I would term his performances last seasons as below par or just average. Making heads turned in his initial starts, his form dipped as the season progressed. Although, he does show his qualities in bits and parts throughout.
Let’s not forget the youngsters. Plenty to be enthused about and hopefully one or two would benefit from this tour and take another step forward in their careers. For this I’m looking at Chuks Aneke, Ryo Miyaichi and Benik Afobe.
I’m off to think of what to say to Andre Santos. Have a nice day.