The first piece of bad news of pre-season has emerged: Samir Nasri has fractured his right fibula and will be out for 2 to 3 months. It almost seem like there is a curse preventing Rosicky and Nasri playing together. Arsene Wenger, though, said the injury is a “simple one”, and it will take about 6 weeks to heal instead of 3 months. Let’s hope that is true and that Rosicky’s case is a special and unique one, whereby the injury just keeps getting stranger and longer to heal than was announced.
Rumours has it that Diaby was the culprit who accidentally broke his compatriot Nasri’s leg. Does it mean that he has really bulked up? If that’s the case, it might be tantalising to imagine him being the tough midfielder we so desperately need! The thing is, despite all the talk about Diaby bulking up in the gym over the summer, I have yet to see a single picture of him in pre-season. However, it is also worth noting that he is well capable of career-ending tackles due more to poor tackling technique than strength.
I understand there is currently a lot of negative feelings towards Diaby now for the tackle. But I think we as Gooners should not harbour such ill feelings towards one of our own players. Such things happen in professional football training, not only to Arsenal but to every other club. I’ve said before that Diaby is technically very gifted, but he needs to release the ball faster, hold the ball better, and get more physical and hardworking in the centre of the pitch to be a more effectve player. He frustrates us with his lackadaisical attitute and sometimes selfish play. If he can correct those faults and be more physical as well, he could well be the answer to our midfield problems. But that remains at present, a big IF. So, let’s get off Diaby’s back and pray for a speedy recovery for Nasri.
At present, we have Rosicky, Arshavin, Traore (who played as a left winger all season at Portsmouth), Vela (who played left winger during his time at Osasuna), Gibbs (who started as a left winger before being converted into leftback last season), and even Eduardo who can play in Nasri’s position.
I did not include Walcott’s name because I expect, now with Adebayor’ departure, that he will be played centrally more often this season. This could be the season where he can polish his skills as a striker. All in all, it means we are well covered in this position and with the season still about a month away, it means Nasri has more than enough time to make his contribution felt when he eventually returns. Let’s remain optimistic!
Moving along, Arsenal played the first game in their Austrian training camp yesterday against SC Columbia. After conceding a rather poor goal thanks to Almunia, Arsenal shook to life and Nicklas Bendtner, Aaron Ramsey and Robin van Persie all scored a brace each with William Gallas rounding off the scoring. Scoring 7 against a team without even semi-professionals is kind of expected. So, let us go through some of the more interesting things I’ve noticed for the game.
1) Vermaelen and Djourou started in central defence. – I’ve mentioned in my blog’s very first post that I would like to see Djourou start alongside Vermaelen because Djourou seem to have the whole package as a defender, except experience. This run-out is a good one and perhaps even Wenger is interested to see for himself how this partnership can work. Vermaelen looks good aerially and so is Djourou. Could our defensive problems in the air be solved finally?
2) Bacary Sagna’s crossing seemed to have improved – He created an inch-perfect cross for van Persie to nod in the fifth goal. A lot of criticism were heaped on him for not being able to cross properly despite overlapping well. I mentioned in my previous post on Rightbacks for the season ahead that Sagna actually came to Arsenal with a reputation of being the best crosser of a ball for a defender. So I must say it was strange that it didn’t quite come off for him since he came to England. But early signs seem like he has indeed been working on the one area of his game that actually needs improving.
3) Lukasz Fabianski wasn’t involved in the squad and Wojciech Szczesny came on instead of Vito Mannone – I was wondering why this was so until Wenger revealed Fabianski wasn’t in the Austrian training camp due to a knee injury. But the fact that Szczesny came on instead of Mannone is interesting. I mentioned in my previous post of Goalkeepers for the season ahead that Szczesny is improving very fast and might be challenging Mannone soon for the official third choice in the first team. Wenger might want to take a closer look at the lanky Pole (no pun intended, really).
4) Philippe Senderos played as a defensive midfielder – The fact that Senderos was involved thrilled me as I’m beginning to hope that he might stay after all. But Wenger revealed that Senderos simply hasn’t made up his mind on his future but there are already offers for him. Such a public admission means the likelihood of him leaving is more than just high. As for the performance itself, he was surprisingly strong in the centre of the pitch. But bear in mind this is only against a team of amatuers.
5) Kolo Toure and William Gallas partnered each other in the second half – Wenger might be looking at re-creating the same defensive formula that worked for 3 quarters of a season in 2007/2008, when we were genuine title-challengers. They communicated well on the pitch and seem to work well together but these are very early days. The best thing is, it seem like both players will stay and that is essential as we really need some depth in defence.
6) Almunia made a sloopy mistake – The goal is definitely Almunia’s fault as his touch was a tad too heavy and he tried to be too clever. Perhaps it’s a case of both pre-season rustiness and complacency against lower-class opponents. This attitute has to change though, and I’m sure he will get his act together when things get serious. But another thing to note is that the back pass by Silvestre that resulted in Almunia’s mistake in the first place was unnecessary as well.
7) Tomas Rosicky didn’t play – The pessimistic will claim Rosicky is unfit again after playing in just one half against Barnet and that Nasri won’t be adequately replaced as he is too unfit. But the smart guess would be that he is being slowly eased back into action. He has been out of football for more than a year, it would be extremely stupid and risky to put him in every game now he’s finally back. I have no doubt though, that he will be fit enough to start the season and I’m quietly confident he can stay fit. The professionals have the best medical brains and service to aid them, we should trust their assessment instead of blinded and biased media talk.
All in all, another good run-out for the lads and the best news has to be that there are no new injuries, let’s hope that continues throughout pre-season and well into the new season (fingers crossed).
Finally, some better news to end today’s post – Our captain Fabregas is back in training and has joined up with the first team in Austria. He has a nice new crew cut that is very similar to new signing Vermaelen, maybe it is to create a more menancing look for the new season. You can view pictures of his first training session at the official website here. We should expect to see him in action in our next friendly next week.