Arsenal Depot

A depository for musings on Arsenal FC

Archive for the month “July, 2012”

Cazorla Close, Szczesny Speaks, Nimble In Nigeria

Without further news on how Malaga intend to sort out their finances by today’s Spanish FA-imposed deadline, hope grows that Arsenal’s pursuit of Santi Cazorla could come to a successful conclusion within the week. The club are rumoured to have agreed personal terms with the Spaniard and are awaiting approval from Malaga whose current owners are apparently looking to sell the club.

Along with rumours of Nuri Sahin’s loan move, Arsene Wenger seems to have identified creativity in midfield as the main area for reinforcement. While all the talk prior and post-Euros was about a defensive midfielder, Yann M’Vila in particular, it’s clear now that the focus will be on improving our options going forward. It’s hard to argue with that analysis with Wilshere and Rosicky injured, Diaby’s fitness a doubt and Ramsey not on top form.

The danger though is in building up expectations too much. Juan Mata’s chase last summer hit the rocks as soon as Abramovich arrived on the scene with an open cheque book. As close as Cazorla’s deal looks at the moment, Malaga’s owners have the capacity to put together a financial package to bail the club out. Let’s not count chickens yet.

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Arsenal Pre-Season Draws To An End

Arsenal finished off their Far East pre-season tour with a 2-2 draw against Kitchee in Hong Kong. It was an entertaining affair, the home team giving as good as they got in the first half with Arsenal asserting dominance in the second period.

Considering it came so soon after the Man City game in Beijing on Friday, the match was played at a good tempo. In the first half both wide players Miyaichi and Walcott looked dangerous, especially Theo who looked really lively and willing to run at defenders every time he picked up the ball. His pace posed a constant threat to Kitchee and Walcott capped off a good first half performance by slotting home Arsenal’s first goal after 22 minutes.

Of course the Englishman’s strike was sandwiched between two goals by the home team. Both were a result of poor defending by Arsenal. Again. Without trying to make too much of a pre-season game, it’s hard not to comment on the Gunners’ difficulties at the back. It’s not with an intention of being negative – simply pointing out the obvious.

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Jack Won’t Be Back Until October And Pre-Season Rolls Into Hong Kong

Arsenal’s pre-season tour nears completion with the final game against Hong Kong side Kitchee FC in a couple of hours. Coming as it does just two days after the well-contested game against Manchester City, it will provide a good test for the fitness of our players. The physical challenge of playing two pre-season games within 48 hours of each other, combined with the travelling might take a toll on the quality of the game though.

It’s a last chance to impress for fringe players and youngsters before the club return home. Can the likes of Chamakh, Afobe and Aneke make a big enough impression on the manager to be considered for the first team squad?

Chamakh’s Arsenal future remains uncertain. Although Van Persie will exit soon, both Podolski and Giroud will need time to settle into the club so the Moroccan could still prove useful in attack. While he is nowhere near as skillful as the Dutchman, Chamakh’s work-rate and build up play has been good to watch on this tour. Still, he needs to produce more in front of goal to be considered for a place in the team.

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Arsenal 0-2 City: Plenty Of Pre-Season Positives

Arsenal’s Chinese adventure concluded with a two-goal defeat to Manchester City yesterday. Overall, Arsene Wenger would have been very pleased not only with the workout his players received but also by some of the link up play which was quite heartening.

Being a pre-season friendly, there’s a danger in over-analysing the game. In addition to being a non-competitive fixture, we must also bear in mind that City are a couple of games ahead of us in their pre-season preparation and take into consideration the extremely hot and humid conditions the match was played under.

The pattern of the game mirrored what you’d expect in the Premier League – Arsenal dominating possession, City looking to play on the counter. While both teams lost the ball quite readily at the start of the match, our passing got better as the game wore on and some of Arsenal’s build up play was quite exciting.

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More Kung-Fu As Arsenal Prepare For City

Arsenal’s Tour 2012 rolled into its fifth day yesterday with plenty of action for the players in Beijing. Abou Diaby and Johan Djourou visited a children’s charity while Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain were inspired enough by Vermaelen’s warrior video to try pick up a move or two themselves. The youngsters on the other hand went for a sightsee to the Forbidden City. For the uninitiated, that’s the site of China’s famous Imperial Palace – not Arsene Wenger’s codename for a football club from Manchester.

Elsewhere, Laurent Koscielny is rapidly climbing the popularity charts with Arsenal fans. After signing a new deal to keep him at the club until 2017, the Frenchman claims he instructed his agents to focus only on extending his stay with the Gunners. His committment makes a refreshing change from players who want to jump ship after one good season. The Frenchman may earn a move away from the club later in his career but there’s no doubt he’s pledged his best years to Arsenal.

In other news, Tomas Rosicky’s agent has confirmed the Czech midfielder has undergone an Achilles operation for the injury he sustained at the Euros. Little Mozart will be out for two months at the least. Arsenal’s previous experience with an Achilles problem is not a pleasant one – it cost Thomas Vermaelen almost an entire season. Rosicky was vital to our brilliant winning streak from February to April so he’ll be sorely missed at the start of the season. With Jack Wilshere still mysteriously sidelined, it’s imperative we don’t lay all our eggs in Abou Diaby’s basket – the mere pressure may cause another injury.

Hence the pursuit of Santi Cazorla who is versatile enough to play behind the strikers. Of course, the Cazorla stories are quickly attaining ‘transfer saga’ status. It was a done deal a couple of days ago but just as Arsenal bloggers started eulogizing about the Spaniard came Manuel Pellegrini’s statement yesterday that Malaga are unlikely to let him go on the cheap. If €20m is cheap, that is. This has all the shades of Juan Mata from last year although Malaga’s need for cash before the end of the month should see a prompt resolution.

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