This time ,”Hello again Gooners” is changed to “Hello again doing this” by Dragon’s voice-recognition software. So it is improving. Well done Dragon!
Talking of dragons, the first-team squad are bound to see a lot of them out in the Far East as we look forward to games against a Malaysia XI (24 July, 2:45 PM on ESPN), Manchester City (27th of July, 1 PM on ESPN) and Kitchee (or “kitschy”, according to Dragon). The latter game kicks off at 10 AM on 29 July. And the final pre-season friendly is against Cologne away from home on 12 August, kicking off at 4 PM. It will also be televised “live” on ESPN. That game takes place just six days before our opening fixture of the season at home to Sunderland on 18 August. Sadly that won’t be televised. I say sadly because I won’t be at the Emirates to see that game. But I’m determined to see it “live” somehow. In the worst-case scenario, I will watch it one or two days later on Arsenal Player. There won’t be so bad if Stewart Robson is summarising.
Anyway, being the impatient type of person that I am, it was impossible for me to wait that long to watch Arsenal in action, so I took myself to Boreham Wood FC. It was not my first visit, but it was my first trip by train to the place made famous by Elstree Studios. Plaques of Cliff Richard, Christopher Lee and Barbara Windsor punctuated my walk from Elstree station to Meadow Park, but little did I know I would be entertained by some of the best “Hollywood balls” I’ve seen at this level of the game. Just to make myself clear here, by “Hollywood balls” I mean the kind of raking passes that we at Arsenal usually associate with the likes of former Gunners superstar Liam Brady. In fact, a lot of young players attempt these “Hollywood balls” and fail miserably because they try them at inappropriate moments in that only indicates a lack of skill. That’s why sometimes or should I say often I complain about players trying to play these kind of passes. But Conor Henderson was not guilty of this. Henderson was by far the best player on the pitch in the first half and based on this display he should be playing first team football. The Ireland under 21 international midfielder is approaching his 21st birthday and if Arsene Wenger has no intention of playing Henderson in the Arsenal first-team then he should loan him out. Just like Liam Brady, Henderson has a magic wand of a left foot. He may not possess Brady’s dribbling skills, but he has a good engine and I anticipate a very bright future for this young prodigy.
The other player worth an honourable mention was playing for Boreham Wood. Left winger Graeme Montgomery really impressed me throughout. The former Dagenham and Redbridge midfielder setup Omer Riza’s opening goal, which put Arsenal one behind. The 24-year-old would have to be man-of-the-match as he shone in both halves. At his age, it will be difficult for Montgomery to ever play Premier league football, but he deserves a chance to play at a much higher level, that’s for sure.
So who in the Arsenal XI also deserves more recognition? Once again, the goalkeepers impressed. Damien Martinez is may have conceded a goal, but aside from that the 19-year-old Argentinian put on an excellent display.
Similarly, his second-half replacement James Shea didn’t put a foot wrong. No wonder he’s been involved with the England squad and I’m expecting big things from the 21-year-old. One of the good things about Shea is he commands his penalty area. Like goalkeeping coach Tony Roberts from the sidelines, Shea is very vocal. In stark contrast, the rest of the Arsenal team was silent throughout.
So who else impressed? Chuba Akpom was fouled for the first penalty and scored the second, so he made a reasonably good impression. He did get nagged for his positional play, so at this stage am not sure how well he will fit in with this Arsenal reserve team.
Kristoffer Olsson belied his tender years with a superb finish after an individual run into the box. The 17-year-old Swedish midfielder certainly looks to be a bright prospect. As does Hector Bellerin. We didn’t see much of the Spanish right back, but to be a poet and not know it he looks as sharp as a tack. The only other player who impressed me in the Arsenal line-up was Martin Angha, who looks remarkably like Neymar of Brazil and Santos, which brings me nicely on to the transfer news.
Neymar was incredibly impressive on Friday night playing for the Brazil Olympic side against Great Britain. Why oh why can’t we sign somebody is good as Neymar? I know the answer and I think we all do. Money. Neymar is 20-years-old and already has 18 caps for Brazil and nine goals. What a great investment he would be! Unfortunately, big business has beaten us to it with third-parties already buying up 45% of his rights for around €14 million. Just to break even on their investment, these third parties are going to demand a €28 million transfer fee for him. To double their money, they will want €56 million. That kind of prices us out of the market, doesn’t it?
Paulo Henrique Ganso should be a lot cheaper, although the 22-year-old has a €50 million buyout clause in his contract. Nonetheless, he is expected to join ourselves, Manchester United or Spurs. Tottenham may have a lot of money to spend when Luca Modric makes his move elsewhere.
Apparently, were much more likely to sign Santi Cazorla from Malaga. The Spanish club have a lot of money but allegedly they have not been paying their players or the taxman on time, according to well respected Spain-based journalist Graham Hunter. So could the 27-year-old winger be on the way to Arsenal? I’m not sure Arsene Wenger would like another repeat of the Jose Antonio Reyes situation. That diminutive but skilful wide man found it difficult to adjust to the violence of the Premier League and perhaps Cazorla would have similar difficulties. However, Reyes was much younger and much more inexperienced when he joined us and than Cazorla is now, so finger may decide it’s worth the gamble.
Yann M’Vila, meanwhile, is on somebody’s shopping list. Rennes are reporting that negotiations are ongoing regarding the defensive midfielder’s transfer. We should find out soon whether Arsenal’s reported interest is genuine. Given that Jack Wilshire will be out until September or October or possibly even later than that with his ankle and knee problems and that Thomas Rosicky will be out for six weeks with a heel problem, it makes perfect sense to bring in an experienced midfielder.
It could be argued we also need a right back, as Bacari Sagna will probably not be fit enough to start the season. However, he is expected to return to the first-team at the end of August.
We will also be one striker lighter, as Nicklas Bendtner is expected to complete a £7.5 million move to either AC Milan or Galatasaray. That money could be useful to provide additional transfer funds for Arsene Wenger.
I don’t expect there will be much more money in the pot following the news that Ryo Miyaichi will probably go to Bolton on another year’s loan now that Ajax have pulled out of the running to sign him. I would have liked Miyaichi to spend some time in the company of former Arsenal superstar Marc Overmars, who could teach the youngster a thing or two about wing play. However, I’m not sure how much input Overmars has on the training ground, so maybe Ryo hasn’t missed out after all.
Anyway, that’s all for now. Until the next time, “Up the Gooners!”