Monday, August 2, 2010

The Emirates Cup

Arsenal have won the Emirates Cup again; probably as close as they'll get to any proper silverware again this season.

The games, a 1-1 draw with Milan and a 3-2 win over Celtic, were not revelatory experiences, but pre-season games don't tend to be. A lot of things that we have known for a long time were underlined. For instance, Arsenal suffer terrible, all-year-round injury problems. Two weeks from the start of the season, none of our familiar central midfielders are playing games. Song, Denilson, Diaby are all absent up to this point and with a horrendous opening fixture at Anfield on the first week of the season this is not ideal.

Manuel Almunia has his best games when his defence fails him completely and he faces a barrage of shots from the opposition. Think United away and Barca at home in the Champions League (although he did make a big mistake in that one aswell). It was the same against Celtic. He did not prove anything. He is, has been, and will continue to be a liability. He's run out of chances to prove himself, as far as I'm concerned.

Arsene Wenger is a bullshit merchant. I guess all managers are, to some extent, but I wish he would not revert to it so much. I think everyone would agree that Arsenal could do with a midfielder to compete with Song for the defensive midfield position. Wenger does not want to spend money on this problem, so as soon as a young lad has a half-decent game in a pre-season friendly, it's "case-closed". In fairness, Frimpong looked almost hilariously out of his depth then in the second game against Celtic, giving the ball away every time he had it. If you want to give youth a chance and promote these guys, do so, but just stop talking about winning trophies of note. Arsenal will not compete with the squad in its current shape.

Jack Wilshere remains an exciting talent, but perhaps a little naive to be a candidate for a CENTRAL midfield spot just yet. The penalty he gave away was very silly, but he had some great moments dictating play and came very close to scoring a wonder volley against Celtic. He's surely done enough to avoid another loan adventure, but is unfortunate that there are so many attacking midfielders in the squad. You have to wonder if it was right to keep Rosicky at the club. We have to keep around some RELATIVELY old heads, but it's funny when you think that Rosicky has been shown far more loyalty than players who achieved a lot more at the club and were then turfed out as soon as they passed their peak.

Maybe Wenger is seeing the error of his ways in this regard. You look at how central Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs, and even Gary Neville still are to United's perennial success, and it's hard not to suspect that a lack of such continuity at Arsenal has been damaging. It would certainly suggest the benefit of giving the likes of Gibbs, Wilshere and Ramsey the best possible opportunity to blossom into first-teamers. These guys would surely be less likely to obsess over a move away for bigger bucks or a better chance of glory or even just for the love of another club, as with Fabregas. THEN AGAIN, people probably said the same about Ashley Cole.

Finally, it should be said that Chamakh looked very good against Milan, showing the classy touches of Van Persie, but with added mobility. Nasri also looks like someone ready to explode to prominence. THEN AGAIN, he's often looked like that.

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