Van Persie To United, Song To Barcelona, Bould To The Rescue
Just a week to go before the Premier League kicks off next weekend and it’s a week that will pass oh so slowly. Of course there’s the Cologne friendly to look forward to tomorrow, a first opportunity to see Podolski, Giroud and Cazorla playing for Arsenal.
Preparations in Germany seem to be progressing well enough, judging by pictures on Arsenal.com. Even Robin van Persie’s smile seems a little less forced in the latest batch of images. Perhaps Cazorla’s weaving runs mesmerised the Dutchman into forgetting to be sulky and rueful.
On a serious note though, talk of a transfer to Manchester United are gathering pace. It’s a bit worrying because if anyone can utilise RvP to the maximum, it’s Alex Ferguson. While financial considerations may force Arsenal to sell, a transfer to United would be highly unpopular and create a fair bit of discontent among fans. Ideally, Gooners would prefer losing the striker on a free next year than sell him to the red half of Manchester this summer.
If the Gunners hang on to Van Persie, I believe he’s professional enough for Arsene Wenger not to worry about a negative influence on the team. In fact, the Dutch striker will have more of a financial interest in his own performances – another good year would secure a more lucrative contract and a bigger signing on fee. That drive could benefit Arsenal’s season, especially in early stages while the new signings are still adjusting to the pace of the Premier League and trying to establish an understanding with their new teammates.
Which is also why increasing interest from Barcelona in Alex Song is most unwelcome. While efforts have been made to cover for Van Persie’s departure, Song’s exit would push the likes of Coquelin and Frimpong into the limelight. As good as they are, I don’t think they are ready to play week in week out at the highest level yet. Maintaining the Arteta-Song partnership in midfield will be crucial, at least until Diaby finds a consistent level of fitness and Rosicky and Wilshere return from injuries. Too many changes in midfield would also affect our already fragile defending.
And while on defending, there’s further proof today that Arsenal are working hard to fix defensive problems. Thomas Vermaelen has been speaking about the positive influence of Steve Bould in this regard.
Steve is really good to work with, especially for defenders as he has been a defender himself. He knows what it is all about and gives us a lot of tips. He works a lot on the shape of the team and that is very important…
That is encouraging indeed. Arsenal’s defensive problems over the last few seasons have stemmed from structural deficiencies. Individual errors have certainly compounded these problems but the primary cause has been the inability to make a succesful transition from attack to defense. Vermaelen’s statements indicate this is one of Steve Bould’s priorities at present.
We have to get the shape of the team right. We have been working on it throughout pre-season and we are focusing on that. I think having your shape right is one of the most important things in football, whether you have the ball or don’t have the ball. We are working really hard on that and Steve does the job really well.
Better defensive awareness across the team would lead to less one-on-one situations and consequently less individual errors. Still, it will take some time for training ground exercises to be successfully implemented in matches. During that time, Arsenal might continue to look as vulnerable as we did last season. While the players work hard on retaining shape, fans will have to support them by remaining patient in the meantime.
More thoughts tomorrow.