I often wondered why news headlines and blogs sometimes had just the name of a player in their headline, but today I understand… the headline of today’s blog is really: “A preview of the Malaysia XI vs Arsenal game, a listen to what Robin has been saying in the press, a review of comments from Nasri’s agent and a discussion around Theo’s desire for new faces in the squad…”, but that would have been a seriously long title.
Malaysia XI vs Arsenal
So let’s kick off with the game which is going to kick off at 13:45 UK time; it’s our first pre-season friendly and will give us a few insights…
- Who will Vermaelen be paired with?
- How will Gibbs fair at left back?
- Who will play on the left wing?
- Who will play in the Cesc position?
I for one, think we’ll play the following team:
Sagna – Koscielny – Vermaelen – Gibbs
Wilshere – Song
Walcott - Ramsey - Nasri
I think the formation will continue as 4-2-3-1, despite it’s failings last year and I think Ramsey will be given a chance to shine in midfield. Carlos Vela has returned to join pre-season, we have Miyachi, Chamakh and new boy Gervinho (eventually) replacing Bendtner – so the question is – how do you accommodate all 4 strikers when you only play one? Last season, we saw Bendtner play left and right wing, and I suppose Vela can play left wing – but I secretly hope we’ll be more adventurous with our formations this year… I would mind season a bit of this in pre-season:
Walcott – Wilshere – Ramsey – Miyachi
Van Persie – Chamakh
or even this:
Miyachi – Wilshere - Ramsey – Nasri
Van Persie – Walcott
Would love to see what we can do with the Wilshere – Ramsey combination – as we all know what Alex Song offers us. I think for 2011/2012, we need to be able to play 4-4-2 at home and 4-5-1 away and / or mix both formations up as much as possible. Last season, we were simply too predictable.
Theo: We need new players!
It was very interesting to see what Theo Walcott had to say on Sky Sports News when interviewed on tour with the team. He was quite honest:
“It’s important to keep all of our best players and it’s important for players to come in as well. Knowing that we were nearly there (last season), the last couple of months it went away from us, we need to know what we did wrong there. The boss will see what the players have got in pre-season matches and see what they have got to offer this season. The boss knows what he’s doing, he’s done it year after year. Us players need to go on and win something, because it’s been a long time. I don’t like to get into talks about other players, they make decisions by themselves. You just want to keep your best players and attract players as well. Only time will tell what’s going to happen. We are just looking forward to the pre-season matches and getting the season up and running. If players come or go, we just have to go on and try and win something.”
There was an element of understanding that the players need to win something soon – they need to perform better. There was also an honesty about where we were last season and a realisation of the hard work going required – listening to him further on Sky Sports News – it was clear that the players feel they’ve underperformed – he talked of the guaranteed third ending up in fourth and the disappointments around that.
It will interesting to see Theo in action in pre-season – where will he play and how will he play – as he will be the first to admit, that his second half to the season was pretty poor!
Nasri: Should we sell?
So, now let’s discuss the Nasri situation… we all know that the player hasn’t signed a contract. We all know that he has one year left on his contract. The big question… do we sell or do we keep him for another year… or will he sign? Most people seem to think we should sell – as if he doesn’t sign, we’ll lose a very good player for free next summer.
“Samir’s situation is clear for me – he stays. I’ve told you that we are in a position where we can say ‘No.’ And we will [in the case of Nasri]. It was put to Wenger that keeping Nasri with no guarantee that he will sign a new contract represents a £20million gamble – the fee his suitors are reportedly prepared to pay. You are the same people who reproach me for not spending money and now you reproach me for wanting to spend it! It is in the interests of the Club. Imagine the worst situation – we lose Fabregas and Nasri – you cannot convince people you are ambitious after that.”
I think there is a hidden message in that statement – and that is that we are going to lose Fabregas if the price is right. If he was really confident that we were going to keep Cesc, then surely he’d sell Nasri and then use the money to replace him with a similar player? How on earth Nasri was allowed to enter the last year of his contract, I don’t know… and in addition, Arsene doesn’t need to be stupid to prove that he spends money – if we sell now, we can get a replacement, if we don’t sell, we won’t get any money to replace him.
Of course, perhaps there is a slim possibility of him signing a new contract – but surely he would have already done so if he was going to. I hope Arsene isn’t being stubborn for the sake of it. Nasri’s agent has confirmed that United enquired and City have made a serious offer – Alex Ferguson seems to think Nasri is off to City too. We’ll have to keep our fingers crossed and see what happens in the next couple of days…
Van Persie: Invest!
Van Persie has called out to Arsene Wenger to invest (just like Theo and Sagna have done)…
“These days, proper players cost money. Sometimes you see players go for loads of money and you think, ‘Is he that good?’ It needs to be seen. Most of the time, they are. You need investment to keep up because, when you look around, Man City is buying loads of good players, Liverpool are doing it now, Man United have been doing it for years.”
When all the players start calling for investment and the manager isn’t investing and the players are being sold every summer, then eventually, we will drop down the league… and players will lose heart… and we will stop being able to attract players.
No matter what people are saying – Arsenal are more in need for a marquee signing – a big name – than ever before – for the players sanity more than anyone else!