#ArsenalTour2012, everyone’s doing it (well, not really)
So, many of the players are away in Asia for the #ArsenalTour2012 that everyone’s excited about. Some of our most important players, it may be argued, have stayed at home; the likes of Wilshere, Sagna, Rosicky, Arshavin, Bendtner, van Persie, and our two new signings Giroud and Podolski have been left back in London to recover from injuries, Euro-exhaustion, bad attitude, etc.
Many have speculated that van Persie is staying home to work on transfer details to get a move secured to whichever club he’ll be playing for next season. This makes sense and will likely be Juventus based on a whole pile of transfer rumour stuff that can hardly be taken seriously, assuming they can get together an offer large enough to satisfy Arsenal (the original bid of £15 million fell far short of the £25-30 million Wenger would like to see). The most important part of this entire RvP transfer issue is that it needs to end as soon as possible. I’m beyond bored reading about it in the papers and on blogs, and there’s no doubt I would rather be writing about something else here, but as it remains this is still the single most important piece of information being followed in the media right now. The other reason it must be finished sooner than later is that we can’t afford to have this sort of thing disrupt the beginning of our season, as the Nasri/Fabregas crapstorm did last year.
The tour itself has been a blend of publicity for the club and wonder for the fans in Asia. There have been signing sessions, interviews, press conferences, and photo-shoots thus far; pretty much everything except an actual game of football. We need not worry too much about that as the players have been training and preparing for the friendly against Malaysia XI tomorrow. Even though this is a preseason friendly and there really can’t be that much pressure or criticism heaped upon the team, it will be good to see the lads out on a pitch again, trying to find their fluency and that passing game we love so much.
Of the players that have made their way to Kuala Lumpur, there are some I look forward to seeing play in particular. Benik Afobe, the young striker who spent last season at Huddersfield Town, may get a chance to shine for the boss, since a large portion of our other firepower has stayed at home. He scored 8 goals in 36 games last season and I think that shows his development is going well. Chuks Aneke has made the trip and though I know little of him, I have read some reports of his abilities in midfield. He’s got quite an eye for goal and the vision to assist, so I’d be happy to see him get a little game time as well. Abou Diaby would be great to see back on the pitch again. We all know how hard a time he’s had with injuries, getting only a few minutes of time last season, but until now I think most supporters have cut him some slack, aware of the talent and ability this player has when he is fit. Today there is word that Wenger would rather rely on Diaby for the season than buy a new player (rumours of M’Villa being a sure thing to transfer to Arsenal have been quashed by the manager). Supporters will have a poor response to this just because of Diaby’s track record when it comes to injury. I wonder what the chances are that Diaby’s return will play out like van Persie’s: the Dutchman had his first injury free season at the club and played fantastically the entire time; one can only hope the same can be true of Diaby when he steps back on to the field of play.
That said, of course I’d like to see the regular starters play again (a couple months away from Arsenal always seems longer than it is), and in time this will happen. The one gap in our preseason tour that I would rather have seen filled is the striker department. There’s not a lot of playing time Giroud or Podolski will get before the season begins in 26 days. The problem is not that I think they are rusty, but that I’d prefer them to have as much time playing with the rest of the team before the official Premier League competition starts. With every new player that arrives at a club time is needed to learn how everyone else plays, to anticipate what others may do on the pitch, and to get a handle on the strengths and weaknesses of those with whom you are playing. However, I’m sure in time these things will come together.
That’ll about do it for today. I am rather dismayed that here in Canada The Score sports channel has purchased rights to air six of Manchester United’s preseason fixtures, while I still have no idea exactly how or when I will get to see Arsenal’s (I think some are available live on Arsenal Player). Ah, the joys of being an away away fan.