, , , , , , ,

Getting closer now

Hello all. It’s Friday and the final day of the transfer window. Ready for the euphoria or the disappointment? Before we get to that, plenty of other things to discussed. No where better to start than the Champions League as the draw was made yesterday.

We are in Group B together with Olympiacos, Montpellier and Shalke. On the face of it, quite a good draw for us. It does look a relatively straightforward group for us to advance to the next stage. Shalke looks to be the strongest of the other 3 in the group but if we do fail to finish as group winners, then we would have classified the group stage as somewhat of a failure.

Fixture wise, the away game at Manchester City comes immediately after the trip to Olivier Giroud’s former club. But that is balanced out by City having a tough visit to Santiago Bernabeu to face Real Madrid on the same Champions League night. The other notable one is the consecutive away trips to Old Trafford followed by a trip to Gelsenkirchen, in what I think will decide the group winners. For the second season running, we have a chance to seal an early qualification and play the second string side away at Greece.

I understand the palpitations suffered by many during the draw, in wanting to avoid bigger/difficult teams. It goes a long way to ensuring a smoother progress to the next phase of the competition, but still not a guarantee. If we don’t face any of the seeded team all the way to the final and eventually winning the competition, it is something I can live with. It won’t change how happy or how much I will celebrate it. I can be honest enough in that respect.

However, I’m also of the thinking that I’m a little disappointment by the draw. The Champions League is where the best teams in Europe gather and it would be great to face a few of them. It would provide a great experience and learning curve for the team. No doubt, it would also create a better spectacle for the viewing audience. It will make qualification to the next phase tougher but in order to win any competition, we have to beat everyone to do it. Our players also seem to up their game when the big guns come around and that is always good to watch. Not complaining, just voicing out a personal opinion.

That wasn’t the only draw made yesterday as the one for the League Cup or Capital One Cup was also done. Arsenal will face Coventry at home and I’m much happier with this draw. The Coventry I remember has a Mustapha Hadji playing for them. Seems ages ago now. A home fixture against a lower league side means that we will be able to rest some of the first teamers and give a chance to the fringe players or players returning from injuries. That’s not to say I want Arsene Wenger to give this competition a pass. We have to make an effort to try and win it. Just that with weaker opposition, it provides the opportunity to field a weaker Arsenal side as well.

We’ve come now to the transfer side of things. First up, Nicklas Bendtner. Apparently almost confirmed to moving to Juventus on loan, with an option to buy. No doubt that if Juventus give him games, he will be a hit in Italy. That’s what I think at least. On paper, I do not see him to be weaker than Mirko Vucinic whom I considered to be Juve’s best striker. So, hopefully there will be games. Not that we need further prove of his arrogance/confidence but Bendtner just did it again. This time by asking for the number 10 vacated by Alessandro Del Piero. You just can’t knock this boy off.

In terms of the inbound ones, we are only looking at the upper tier of selection. Wenger will only make his move if top quality players are available. That does sound to me as the manager is looking for someone who will immediately become first choice in the side. Fair to say from a personal point of view, the names that we’ve been linked with in the past couple of days, doesn’t strike me as players who could be first choice right from the get go. With only less than 15 hours to go, it is hard to envisage someone of that ilk joining us. If we are able to pull if off, we have to applaud the team for managing to keep the news under wrap.

Or maybe there is really none and Wenger has shifted a level lower. Shifted to a level where he is looking at players who could come in a rotate. Michael Essien has been mentioned and there’s a lot of scepticism about this one. Injured and past his prime are the major cries from the majority of the fans. However, I’ve always admired him and still thinks that his personality and experience could still be beneficial to us. We’ll have to see how this pans out. Not sure what to think of Chelsea loaning us players for 2 consecutive seasons.

Remember, any time from now till the end of the transfer window, if you feel frustrated and wants a distraction. Just take a look at this news. If the return of Jack Wilshere can’t put a smile back on your face then there’s no one who can help you.