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.
While Arsene Wenger burns the midnight oil trying to unearth gems without breaking the bank, his opposite number at Manchester City has launched a thinly veiled attack on his club’s Director of Football. Roberto Mancini is frustrated by City’s lethargy in signing Robin Van Persie. The fact that the Blues are burdened with a plethora of highly paid strikers who have no intention of taking a pay cut to leave the club is of little concern to the Italian. As far as Roberto is concerned, the club management should just drive down to London with a couple of pots of gold and secure the Dutchman’s services from Arsenal. Simple.
The Gunners’ defense will be up against one or two of those highly paid strikers in Beijing this afternoon. It will be a difficult game, the heat and humidity once again a factor. While a win would be most welcome, the most important thing is to ensure the likes of Arteta, Song and Vermaelen build up their fitness ahead of our season opener in three weeks time. For the younger players, it’s a wonderful opportunity to impress against a strong City side with Eisfeld and Afobe the ones to watch.
And for Abou Diaby, this is the toughest test yet on another road to recovery. Let’s hope he’s not on the pitch at the same time as Nigel de Jong, City’s very own martial arts specialist.
Enjoy the game. More thoughts tomorrow.