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Crowded out

So, that’s goodbye and thank you from Asia to Arsenal. Another pre season tour to this continent done and many more fans have the pleasure to be up close and personal with the club that they support. No doubt, there will also be plenty who were enthralled by this visits and have pledge their allegiance to the club mast. The commercial side of the club will also be happy with the discussions that they have gone through while here, where the revenue is most evident in the mass number of fans in the stadium sporting the new kit.

So, Arsenal goes back to Europe with the wallets a bit fatter and more connections built up for potential business partners. What of the playing side? It was a gruelling 7 – 8 days of non-stop activities for the staff and players. Between photo-ops, fans event, sponsors event, training and the travelling; I don’t envy the lack of recuperation and rest time that these people have. Then you factor in the heat that the group had to endure while over here in Asia. The temperature notwithstanding, the humidity is one that takes a lot to get used to. Though, I’m sure lots of players would have shed a few pounds due to the sweating alone.

When you put all those things together, it does justify the somewhat poor performances by the team in at least 2 out of 3 of these friendlies. The only one that we did really well and looked like the team we are familiar with, was the game against Manchester City. No coincidence that it was against another team who did all the travelling and commercial activities, that we performed well. Malaysia XI are halfway through their season and showed that they are much fitter. While Kitchee may not be in their season proper, they did not have to deal with the hectic schedule that Arsenal had to go through.

It’s not explanation that are meant to be used as excuses to justify those poor performances against supposedly weaker teams. However, those factors are facts which simply cannot be ignored. Nor is the fact that we are still in pre-season and the thing that matters at this point in time is the fitness levels of the players and not so much on the result. I have not done any research on how the pre season results correlate to how a team performs during the competition proper. Probably won’t make any substantial supporting proof that results in the pre-season matters. We did picked up one trophy and shared one, mind you.

What about yesterday’s game? We were guilty of defensive errors and that much is noted by Arsene Wenger in his post match comments. The manager does have a point in that 3 of his better defenders (comparatively to the majority of those that travelled on the tour) are still in Europe or in Nigeria, in the case of Per Mertesacker. However, it doesn’t help that they are not with the group either. I’ve said plenty on this subject, so if you read my previous posts, you’ll know where I stand on the matter.

There is no doubt that over the course of the season, we won’t be able to completely rely on the core of these 4 – 6 better defenders. That’s not to say they are useless or not up to mark, just that these players will also need rest whether because of their physical conditions or determined by their on-field disciplinary issues (yellow and/or red cards). There will come a time/period when we will have to use some of these less better defenders and that’s when it becomes tricky. The manager and his staff of coaches will have to find a way to improve them before we come to the point of needing to use them. That said, the task is made easier by slotting them alongside better and more experienced defenders.

More from the post match comments, Wenger also confirmed that there will be a few players leaving the club. Given the names, hardly the most surprising of bunch. If anything, it just validates what we already suspect. Nicklas Bendtner, Sebastien Squillaci and Park Chu Young are all in the midst of finding new clubs. Park’s quest for a new playing career will not be hindered by him finding his goal-scoring touch for South Korea in their Olympic games match against Switzerland. What is surprising from this comment is the fact that Wenger is not entirely sure what is to become of Andrey Arshavin.

The mercurial Russian has been on the verge to move for some time now. His loan stint during the middle of last season proves that Wenger is unsure of his contributions to the first team. Some will point to his loan stint coinciding with our run of good results. While it is up to individual assessment on the matter, it does show that we have enough within our ranks to make do without him. This is not a slight on Arshavin’s qualities but rather what we have to compensate the loss of him. Personally, I’d rather we don’t overcomplicate things again by including him in our plans. Then again, what do I know.

With Wenger and the team back in Europe, I think we should hear more about transfer(s). I mean, that’s what we all want to hear right? Fingers crossed on the possible new recruits. If the names bandied around in the last couple of days are true, then there’s plenty to get excited about.

Till then, have a nice day.