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.
Among the younger players, Benik Afobe was the one to watch out for on this tour. As it’s turned out, it’s Chuks Aneke in midfield who has impressed more in the two games. Arsenal need more reinforcements in midfield to compete on all four fronts next season. Another good showing today would firmly place the 19-year old in the manager’s thoughts.
And that need in midfield becomes more urgent with news that Jack Wilshere will not return before October at the earliest. While Arsene Wenger has remained positive on the Englishman’s recovery throughout, it’s worrying that Jack will have missed 15 months of football. Even if he were to play in October, the youngster will need to be eased into games and it’s unrealistic to expect him to have an immediate impact.
Perhaps this is why we continue to be linked with both Santi Cazorla and Nuri Sahin. Malaga has only a couple of days left to clear their dues but Arsenal are reportedly being hampered by not having a central figure to negotiate with at the Spanish club. Seems a right mess down there, especially when you consider they have qualified for Champions League football this year. The sheer maverick-ness of the club’s owner makes it difficult to call which way the Cazorla story will swing. Maybe Sahin on loan is Arsenal’s back up plan, although some papers claim both moves are likely to happen.
If that were the case, there could be no bigger statement of ambition. Of course, it wouldn’t be ambitious enough for Robin van Persie who’s rumoured to be demanding a salary on par with Wayne Rooney to move to United. You can’t deny Van Persie is as good if not better than Wayne Rooney so that seems justified if he were to play in the same team. I can’t see Arsenal selling to United though and I suspect the Dutchman will end up at City after all – just like Nasri did last season.