Arsenal return to first team action this afternoon. Yes, it’s only a pre-season friendly at Borehamwood but who cares? I’m just going to party like its 1984 which by a quirk of fate is the playlist that is here or in the right side bar in Dad’s Jukebox. The playlist isn’t the only thing returning, Jose Mourinho’s incoherent babbling about the signing of Cesc Fàbregas might just be the biggest hint yet that rivals are concerned about the strengthening that Arsenal have undertaken this summer. Mind you, if Mourinho is detached from reality, he is still in touch with his sanity than Nicklas Bendtner. And any number of headline writers who still claim Loic Remy is a target for Tottenham despite carrying ‘Appy ‘Arry’s quote that the forward wants to play Champions League football.
Good morning club football, where have you been old friend.
On which note, let’s get the transfer gossip out of the way. If you want to know why footballers and social media don’t work, Lukas Podolski gave the perfect answer with this hastily deleted tweet. What does it mean? Is he advertising his impending departure to the Andaluz club? Is he lost in the southern Spanish city and looking for landmarks, joyous that he has found something he recognises? Has he got his wires crossed about where the Champions League final is being played? Who knows but I think we should be told…
To the Spanish media, it’s manna from heaven, something different from Khedira or Casillas. With everybody’s Hamez seemingly likely to stay in Monaco this summer – according to Arsène that is – they needed something to feed the supporters of the other top flight clubs. Podolski’s departure would be no surprise following the signing Alexis Sanchez but also indicative that the club were actively seeking another forward. On the face of it, claims that Podolski has fallen from grace with Wenger are not difficult to substantiate. He was under-par against Hull at Wembley, Wigan as well in the semi-final and substituted in both. The player has a long-stated ambition to be considered a central striker but the manager doesn’t seem him that way. Having won a World Cup, perhaps the a desire to play regularly in a first team is now his over-arching ambition.
Or perhaps it was a joke. The anatomy of a football rumour…
So to the business of the day. Arsène has stated that the club will be sending a mixture of youth and experience to Borehamwood this afternoon, one that will feature the players who didn’t participate at the World Cup. In addition to the list of Wojciech Szczesny, Kieran Gibbs, Tomas Rosicky, Mikel Arteta, Aaron Ramsey, Nacho Monreal, Mathieu Flamini, Yaya Sanogo, Abou Diaby and Carl Jenkinson, we can surely add Cazorla, Wilshere and Oxlade-Chamberlain because neither Spain or England turned up in Brazil.
One name missing from that list is Theo Walcott. That may not be the case for much longer with the photos of his return to some sort of training, accompanied by comments by Arsène about the timescales we are looking at for his return,
“He’s worked very hard during the summer and we expect him to be back in full training at the end of August. Once he’s back in full training it can be very quick.”
Which immediately translated to Theo being fit for the first of England’s Euro2016 qualifiers. God, I hope not; England don’t exactly have the best record in returning players to the club fit at the best of times, let alone one who has missed six months of football.
From the club’s perspective, there is no reason on paper why Walcott should be rushed back; there is depth on the right with the arrival of Alexis Sanchez offering the prospect of either he or Cazorla deputising, and that’s without Oxlade-Chamberlain or Gnabry coming through.
It’s the benefit of investing in the squad. The downside, if it can be considered such, is the interminable gossip. Sami Khedira is in the headlines in Madrid, this time thanking everyone for the support he received whilst injured. Somewhat more savvy than Podolski, he deleted the line, “but now I’m off“, before posting the tweet.
We shall see in the morning’s papers whether or not that is any time soon or to Arsenal, I am sure. In the meantime, this afternoon’s match is on Arsenal Player and as the heavens have opened with little sign of abating, it might be something to while away the hour whilst the players are off at Lords.
For the first time this season. Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it.