Santi Misses Training, Diaby Looks Forward, Song Linked To Barca
Santi Cazorla continues to dominate the headlines this morning, having missed Malaga’s training session yesterday ostensibly to fly to London to complete his medical. An official confirmation is expected today but considering how ultra-cautious Arsenal.com can be towards announcing new players, it could be a while still.
Another new signing Abou Diaby has been speaking about the coming season. His discernible delight at having come through three weeks of pre-season without setback is moving. For a player who’s been riddled with so many injuries throughout his career, he looks like he’s finally believing the worst is behind him.
The Frenchman feels the three-man midfield system Arsenal currently employ suits him because he possesses good attacking and defensive qualities. Although in my opinion, among all the midfielders we have at Arsenal, Abou is perhaps best suited to playing in a 4-4-2 midfield because of his natural instinct to move vertically through the field and ability to ride challenges going forward whilst also being able to put in tackles in defense.
However it’s unlikely Arsene Wenger will adopt 4-4-2 as a default system although we may see it used in certain phases of a game or against opposition that play a similar system. For a team like Arsenal that thrives on possession play, the 4-4-2 becomes too much of an up-and-down-the-pitch affair and with our current problems defending without the ball, it could put more pressure on the back line.
Diaby also spoke about the effect of numerous injuries on both his physical and mental state. As fans we get frustrated when players are sidelined but a thought should be spared for the suffering players themselves. As Abou says, it’s hard to watch from the bench when your teammates are playing every weekend and it’s a testament to the mental strength of the Frenchman that he seems raring to go after every recovery.
While we anticipate the contribution of one midfielder, another one is being linked with Barcelona. The Catalan club are reportedly chasing Alex Song to fill the gap left by Seydou Keita. The fact that the player has two years left on his contract and Arsenal have no compulsion to sell him are of no interest to Sergio Busquets who has stated his admiration for the powerful Cameroonian.
Amidst all the excitement of Cazorla’s arrival and possibly Sahin’s too, let’s not forget the importance of Song and Arteta to our ambitions. Both had outstanding seasons last time around and while Song was criticized for being too adventurous at times, most of those instances came in the absence of Arteta. Even if Cazorla were to play through the middle, Arsene Wenger will surely want to maintain the continuity of Arsenal’s successful pairing in midfield.
Song’s contract situation is very similar to how Koscielny’s was a couple of weeks ago, the Cameroonian’s current deal expiring in 2014. No doubt the management is working on extending his contract as well but ultimately it’s up to the player to accept or turn down the extension.
In my opinion, Busquet’s statements are aimed more at destabilising Alex Song in not signing an extension so that Barcelona are in a better negotiating position next year when the Cameroonian would only have a year left on his contract. At times these complexities are lost on fans like us – especially when situations like those of Samir Nasri and Robin van Persie are encountered.
Speaking of our club captain, there is still no clarity on where he’ll end up next season. Neither Manchester clubs seem to have made further bids and Juventus are rumoured to be considering pulling the plug although an agent somewhere in Italy has claimed a deal has been in place for some time now. That seems highly unlikely though and Arsenal are in a much more comfortable place with regards to Van Persie, having already signed two strikers early in the summer.
It’s been a miscalculation of gargantuan proportions by Van Persie’s advisors. Perhaps they felt the statement issued on the fourth of July would pressurize Arsenal or alert a host of clubs to put in bids, neither of which has happened. The Dutch striker is still likely to move away but instead of holding the aces, Van Persie is now at the mercy of Arsenal Football Club in terms of the timing of his departure. If he is sold to a Premier League club, it would be to our advantage to delay that sale as late into the transfer window as possible.
After enduring summers of discontent, this year marks a refreshing change with Arsenal’s off-season activity. Let’s hope the positivity displayed in the transfer window is extended to the football pitch when the season starts in just over two weeks time.