Hello everybody! Sorry for the prolonged absence, but it seems more and more of my time is devoted to my Engineering degree studies as I move up gears entering my final year. In the summer break of course I’m here chatting to y’all about what’s going on.
So what is going on? Crazy season, that’s what. And it is enlightening to note that the only people currently whining about our lack of signings are those who were most butthurt by the new Wenger extension. Yes, the moaners have to pick up something to complain about. Most sensible people are of the opinion that the toxicity was quite enough and that the club have noted the message very well, despite the new contract for the manager. The transfer window has not yet officially opened although some of our negotiations must already be underway.
There were rumours of Jean Michael-Aulas and Lyon advisor Gerard Houlier being in London for meetings concerning the future of one, Alexandre Lacazette. Rife as they may be on social media, the rumours lead me to believe even more that it is best left to the bosses and the agents to figure out who it is that we have in the shining new home kit for 2017/18.
What I will say though is that our signings have been in key areas, on and off the pitch. An ageing but consistent Monreal was always going to need to either move into the CB role or make way for newer competition. Kieran Gibbs had been allowed to fill that slot without really ever competing for it, reduced to appearances off the bench and during the Spaniard’s rare injury spells. Sead Kolasinac is a very good player, and he adds some much needed bulk to this Arsenal side who are quite bereft of players who can physically intimidate opposition. Even more important than that is his mentality, as he points out in his first ever Arsenal interview. In his own words his best quality is his mental strength! At least we now know why Wenger signed him (HAHA).
Two of our other appointments have been off the pitch, one soon to be working on the training ground in the form of Darren Burgess from AFL side Port Adelaide. His transfer seems to somehow open a pathway of collaboration between the two sides on sports science and I very much like how our fitness and medicine departments are looking. The Independent puts it as a partnership between the two clubs which is “to grow sports science and professional development opportunities between Highbury and Alberton”.
Perhaps at some stage we will get close to having our very own Lab like the legendary Milan Lab of AC Milan. Fancy fancy eh? Apparently he’s a Wenger buy as well, the original report from a newspaper website in Adelaide saying that Arsene Wenger had personally handpicked the fitness guru for a job alongside Shad Forsythe.
The last appointment is of former Team Sky legal wiz Huss Fahmy, who is said to be ready to implement the Daniel Levy policy of renewing player contracts even before they get into the last two years of their length. Now what happens when a player is not ready to sign at all irrespective of time is something I have no idea about. Maybe they play toss to figure out who wins the argument. I don’t know.
Now all of this is of course a sideshow compared to our first pre-season game which is fast approaching. We’ll be taking everybody other than Alexis and Mustafi I presume, because both of them are at the Confederations Cup and would be given a week or two off. Also a possible latecomer to pre-season training could be Hector Bellerin but I don’t think he will get too much time off since the U-21 Euros finish earlier. Mesut Ozil having the opportunity of another full pre-season excites me to no end, and that too with TWO world class fitness and performance trainers.
What excites me perhaps a little more than that are the youngsters who will make the trip with the first team squad. The likes of Ben Sheaf, Stephy Mavididi, Donyell Malen, Vlad Dragomir, Jeff Reine Adelaide, Ainsley Maitland-Niles etc are all players who are very highly thought of at the academy and by Arsene Wenger as well. Having watched some youth football last season, my next piece will focus on tracking some of these youngsters and speculating on who may make the leap to the first team in the coming season.