Writer: Chris Aylward
Date:Tuesday July 31 2007
There is no doubt the weekend's Emirates Cup was a great success as it went without a hitch and more importantly, Arsenal were the victors.
Unfortunately my bank balance meant that I was unable to attend either of the days so I slobbed out with Doritos and a healthy supply of well known cider in front of the TV.
From what I saw I now have very high hopes now for this coming season. Apart from the first half against PSG, our play was absolutely superb. Bendtner opened his account for Arsenal and assisted Flamini for the opening goal and caused a few problems, Diaby looked solid and made a few great challenges once he had been moved to his natural position in the centre of midfield, Denilson as solid as ever and our latest Frenchman added to the ranks Sagna looked solid at right back and it can't be long before Clichy breaks his goal scoring duck with his runs forward from left back. However, it was the performances of Eboue, Hleb and lastly and most importantly Van Persie who were the main reason for my renewed hope for this season.
Eboue's mazy runs against Inter Milan were almost, and I'm afraid to make this comparison, Ryan Giggs like and was a constant thorn in the side of the Serie A champions, drawing a number of dangerous free kicks which could prove a vital ability this season for Gallas and Toure to get into the box and hopefully score some crucial headers from set pieces.
Watching Hleb playing just behind Van Persie in the 'Bergkamp role' he seemed much more comfortable there and revelled in his free role playing behind Van Persie, which for me made a very strong case to playing a 4-5-1 formation, however this is for Wenger to decide but I would not rule out seeing it at some point this season. Last but by no means least is Robin Van Persie. He showed glimpses of brilliances in the first half against PSG, a mazy dribble through the heart of the French sides defence and a couple of freekicks flying just over the bar, but his performance against Inter Milan was by far his best performance of pre-season so far and he could have had a hat trick at least being denied by both goalkeepers Francesco Toldo and Julio Cesar but capped a good peformance with a superb goal. Receiving the ball from Emmanuel Eboue he bemused defender Francesco Balzoni with some exquisite footwork before firing in a vicious strike with his unfavoured right foot past Toldo. Cue celebration from the Arsenal fans and a certain lazy student in Kent!
Wenger's programme notes and post match comments have made quite interesting reading. In the programme notes he quoted as saying we need 'one or two more players'. By the looks of yesterday Eboue and Sagna are forming a useful partnership on the right hand side of midfield could push Hleb for his place. But as our Belarus midfield had a great couple of games it could be Rosicky who makes way for Hleb to play on the left which might mean there is no need for a us to buy a winger. Granted i thought prior to yesterday we needed a left winger and I think we still do , however the speculation surrounding Nicholas Anelka has now intensified in the press and among supporters. Discussing the potential return yesterday of the French striker Wenger said: 'I can never say no because the transfer window is still open'. He also said a few days ago that 'At the moment I have not made an offer for Anelka'.
I think 'At the moment' is a very interesting and very important. Could he possibly be thinking of bidding for Le Sulk? His quotes suggest here it is in the back of his mind. To be honest and I maybe one of a very few number of people, but I'm not totally against him returning. He is a miserable so and so but he is still a quality striker. He may have only scored 11 goals for Bolton last season, but with the creative team of players we have at our disposal he could easily double that. If Eduardo's work permit isn't approved then Wenger is going to have to get another striker in quickly and I think he would want a proven Premier League striker and Anelka fits that bill and would add some experience to the side.
The next few days regarding transfers should be interesting to see if any new players are brought between today and the start of the season and see how the Anelka saga works out . After our Emirates Cup success there is now our trip to Amsterdam to look forward to as well and the chance to win, to quote the Daily Mail's Simon Cass 'meaningless silverware' before the season starts. On the contrary, I'm happy to say I disagree with Mr Cass quite considerably. There is no such thing as meaningless silverware. Although it's not exactly the Champions League, this win will have done a huge amount for our young sides confidence which after Thierry Henry and Freddie Ljungberg's departure is very much needed.
Date:Tuesday July 31 2007
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