Finally, the moment we football fans have been waiting for all summer: the commencement of the pre-season.
Before I continue, the Arsenal snippets of the day: Robin van Persie has signed a contract extension, something that was expected since the end of last season but we Gooners were still feeling jumpy before the official announcement. Robin is undoubtedly one of the most talented players in the world, he just need to stay fit. Much has been said of how injury-prone he is but I feel that isn’t a fair comment as he only really had one full season filled with injuries and he was pretty much in the clear for most of last season. I feel his best years are yet to come and I am thrilled as a Gooner to know that we can continue to witness some more Dutch magic in the foreseeable future. I would like to end this piece of news by saying that I really enjoyed his free-kick goal against Wigan in the 2006 League Cup semi-final 2nd leg during my first trip to Highbury. That was the first goal I’ve witnessed at the Highbury stadium and it was truly memorable. Following that goal the entire stadium went “Robin… van Persie!” *clap* *clap* *clap* *clap* *clap* “Robin… van Persie!” *clap* *clap* *clap* *clap* *clap* … Awesome.
Next, I mentioned in my previous post that it seems like no one has taken notice of the way Arsenal is producing and keeping young British talent and England manager Fabio Capello had said
“I’m very lucky, because I’ve had the opportunity to look at Arsenal’s academy where the England team train and their work is incredibly good. It’s a very important example for the other English academies.”
There are a couple of old, circulating untrue transfer rumours surrounding Cesc Fabregas and Andrey Arshavin but not worth paying any attention to.
And so, pre-season is upon us! Some of the interesting pictures are:
The most interesting picture released by Arsenal’s official website, you can see that everyone training has a number on their training jerseys and shorts. Notice the only one without a number above? That’s right, Philippe Senderos. I have been calling for his return in my very first post here and I was actually deighted to see him back in Arsenal colours, until I saw his missing number. Officially, he is still number 6 as listed in the official website and new signing Vermaelen is without a number as yet. But it won’t surprise me that Senderos may still leave before the transfer window closes and his number might be given to Vermaelen.
I know Fabregas, Walcott and Gibbs are given extra time off and some other first teamers like Sagna and Clichy are also missing from the pictures but I was looking out for Diaby who supposedly put on some bulk over the summer. He was nowhere to be found. Maybe he’s training hard in the gym? I certainly hope so but the smart guess is he’s out with a niggling injury, or something.
Finally before I end today’s post, I would like to commend on the excellent work Arsenal CEO Ivan Gazidis has done since he came aboard in the middle of last season. He has swiftly brought Arshavin to Arsenal in a (on hindsight) absolute bargain, he has secured the long-term contracts of 3 of our best young talents as well as the world-class van Persie and he has handled his PR obligations so well that he is liked by both the Board as well as the fans. I think he is absolutely excellent for us and we hope he can continue to assist Wenger in things outside of football. Arseblog has an exclusive interview with Gazidis and he also had an interview done with the official website.
And lastly, the topic that will lead to today’s poll. The official website has dubbed this week to be Arshavin week as the Russian has been voted second for the Arsenal Player of the Season poll. There are more than one website or blog that has proclaimed Arshavin as the best Arsenal player of last season and undestandably so. 6 goals in 12 league appearances for Arsenal is no shabby record, especially for a player who has never played football outside ofhis native country. Who can forget his deft turn of his waist that floored a defender on his way to scoing his first goal for Arsenal? Or his 4 goals against Liverpool? Or the way he made a Hull player fall on his buttocks with his out-of-this-world ball skills? No doubt he has had an impactful second half of the season but right here, I cannot agree that Arshavin is our player of the season. This is because of one simple reason, he was not here for an entire season.
To me, to be the best player of the season, the player has got to be playing most of the season and have had a relatively injury-free one. The Arsenal website will be revealing the winner of the poll next week. Who do you think will be the Arsenal Player of the Season?
Candidates to me are:
Robin van Persie – Largely injury-free and has had an amazing January when he scored or created every single Arsenal goal. It was also the time when Arsenal got out of its poor run of form and began an undefeated run. His goal against Chelsea that won us the game in the first half of the season is still the background of the wallpaper on my laptop.
Denilson – Criticised by many, Denilson is still the Arsenal player who has played the most games last season. Even more so than Almunia. He looks jaded towards the end of the season but that is understandable as he is only 20. Early on, he also created a significant number of goals.
Manuel Almunia – Incredibly consistent the whole of last season. He cannot be faulted for most of the many goals we have conceded and is showing the world just what Wenger saw in him all those years ago. Even long-time adversary Jens Lehmann praised Almunia as ‘world-class’.
Basically the rest of the squad has had mixed season and to me, the obvious choice would be the man who just signed a new contract today – Robin van Persie.
What is your opinion? Let me know in the poll!