The Amsterdam Tournament kicks off tonight, the final two games of the pre-season and arguably the most important on two counts. Firstly, it represents the last opportunity to tune up for the coming campaign in a vaguely competitive environment. Training is all well and good, enhancing the fitness levels but it is the matches that prepare best for the Premiership. Secondly, and closely linked in, is the fact that one of the two matches ought to contain Arsene’s starting line-up for the Fulham match, injuries and paperwork permitting.
There are two good teams to play in Lazio and Ajax, with differing styles to accommodate. I am glad that Lazio are the opposition instead of Atletico as it presents two chances to take on well-disciplined defences, something that will be the norm again this season at The Emirates. Arsenal in recent seasons have struggled to break down Dutch teams so it is good to be opposing them to see if this current incarnation of the squad can improve, even if it is a friendly.
Encouraging news in that Arsene expects Tomas Rosicky to play a part this weekend, presumably his tight hamstring has responded well to treatment. No news on Adebayor and Walcott which presumably means they will not be participating although by the time you read this, no doubt the Club will have issued a statement saying they are in the squad and will play in both games.
Whilst the fitness levels improve, partnerships need to build as well, particularly in the front line where through the injury situation last year, little or no understanding could be built between RvP and, well, anyone else. Interesting words from the Dutchman yesterday about being more interested in playing good football than an unattractive style but win things,
There are only a few teams in Europe who play the way Arsenal play. I will always play for a team where I earn less money but play fantastic football rather than a team where you can earn lots of money and win every week 1-0, 2-0 and play the defensive style
Well, somewhere between the two is the ground that Arsenal need to occupy, adopting a tighter defensive strategy such as that which brought a clean sheet at Old Trafford, transferring that to the lower placed teams in the Premiership and to The Emirates as well; achieve that and it is highly likely that the pundits who write the team off will be eating large servings of Humble Pie.
With da Silva learning his fate today, already the speculation is starting about who Arsene’s Plan B is; the UK media is obsessed with Nicolas Anelka whilst reports are coming through of a supposed interest in Frederic Kanoute at Sevilla. The silly season still has four weeks to run so brace yourself if it all goes pear-shaped at the Home Office today.