I had never previously thought of Arsenal as a subversive club. Indeed, with a previous nickname of “The Establishment Club“, why would you? That’s all changed in the week that the club departs for the USA with the announcement that there is a new Huawei club phone being released. This after the company was recently deemed a security threat by the House Committee On Intelligence. Fair play to Ivan for sticking it to The Man although is it, I wonder, some kind of clever Manchurian Candidate plot? I doubt it but if anyone sees him playing solitaire on the flight…
That’s if he is going to the USA, of course. With so much transfer talk, it would be no surprise if he stayed behind for the same “general business reasons” that caused his Manchester United counterpart, Ed Woodward, to return home from their tour. You have no idea how disappointing to see he looked like the lovechild of Ian Hislop and Roland Rat rather than his more illustrious namesake; more Lonely than Callan.
Talking of the upcoming fixture in Noo Yawk – as risible an attempt at a New York accent as any Arsenal player tried – Arsène tried hard to sound enthusiastic but ended up with what sounded more like an advert for a holiday company, “It is the perfect time to go. I always wanted to go with Arsenal to the United States, so I’m personally very happy to do it.“
You just know the unspoken part was that he would have been happier had he and the players been flying to Austria to hold their training camp so that he could get on with the business of conditioning them ahead of the coming season. Travel is a necessity as Louise Taylor’s article in The Guardian at the weekend confirmed, although it is interesting to ponder why Arsenal are travelling to the USA now and for one game only. The former and the latter both revolve around the manager no doubt, a recognition on his part of the commercial necessity for the football business whilst the latter the business of football impinging on the commercial aspects of the game. Fair play to Gus Poyet if his stance with the Sunderland board was correctly reported. There was a time when such tours were deemed to be detrimental to a club’s preparation but with the champions in recent years all having crossed the Atlantic, that viewpoint has long been dismissed. Had it not been a World Cup summer, would Arsenal have embarked on a longer trip?
At least this time they are turning up.
Squad strengthening is the talk of the summer, this morning is no different except it’s more a case of who isn’t joining. That will be Sami Khedira who will find his €150k salary per week net of tax is €150k per week in Monaco whilst Loic Remy is about to find out the hard way that hubcaps are not legal tender anywhere other than Liverpool. Another forward Arsenal didn’t want is Mario Balotelli, some of the papers have taken the hint and finally written off the deal but the reliable as ever Heil continues to push it even though Milan have once more played the tape recording of Galliani denying a bid from Arsenal has been received. Probably because one has not been made and at the salary quoted, never will. But, and it’s a big BUT, Milan are in New York at the end of this week so…
Arsène mentioned that there was likely to be some activity before the season begins, David Ospina is one whose decision to walk from Nice to London rather than flying, might be one he regrets. That the Colombian is first choice for his country is an interesting choice of signing if it happens. The pressure will be on Szczesny like never before; whatever heroics Fabianski pulled off, he was never going to regain the manager’s favour again unless disaster struck. Ospina is different; 25, just a year older than the Pole but brimming with confidence after a decent World Cup. It is an eye-opening signing because Szczesny was always perceived as untouchable, even though he was dropped a season and a half ago. Wojciech was the future; now that’s not so clear.
With money to burn, Arsène has set about filling the gaps pragmatically but unlike rivals has two international goalkeepers of a similar age. There is no succession planning going on, one is not nearing the end of his career; this is a case of fighting for the goalkeepers jersey in the starting line-up. It’s good competition to have and welcome to. Personally, I think Szczesny improved last season but still some are irked by his confidence. Show me a meek goalkeeper and I’ll show you one with backache.
The competition is something to replicated throughout the squad. Talk of another midfielder is quashed in some quarters because of Diaby, Coquelin, Flamini or Arteta’s careers being stalled. The latter pair know it is coming at some point, perhaps sooner for Flamini because of his combative style requiring bigger energy reserves but age is against the duo. The former? Well, one has to prove fitness over a number of seasons before anyone is sure of him in that sense – talent can only delay conversations turning to injuries for so long – whilst I don’t think Coquelin is perceived as being Arsenal’s future any more.
Defensively, the central pairing are quite comfortable which is something that needs a little incentivising as does the forward line. In the past, Arsenal have had a culture of patience although once it wore thin, there was little hope of redemption from Wenger. His patriarchal style underpinned by ruthlessness. Now, that is baring its teeth more often, in terms of selling players quicker or not re-signing his favourites. I don’t think it’s a new Arsène by a long-shot, just the same one with money to rectify problems. Perhaps last summer was more of a watershed than was perceived at the time.
Another double-post day with Arsenal In The USA returning with previous visits to the USA; yes, there have been some…