Arsene Takes A Call, Podolski Promises More, Ryo Off To Wigan
Whereas in previous years there’s only been hope, this summer there’s a sense of anticipation and positivity among Arsenal fans as a new Premier League season approaches – altogether too slowly for my liking. These four days will feel like a week, Sunderland on Saturday just can’t come soon enough.
A lot of this feel-good has to do with the new signings. The early business done in the transfer market has eased concerns over Van Persie’s imminent departure. It’s perhaps a sign of things to come from Arsenal, the club seemingly in a better position financially than in previous years. Commercial and TV revenues are set to grow in the coming years with lucrative contracts on the horizon.
It’s a scenario Arsene Wenger has envisaged for years now, that of Arsenal’s self-sufficient model paying off in the long-run. Of course, we’ll know only after the transfer window closes at the end of August whether the new signings came at the cost of one (or two) key players. But the relaxed approach adopted by the club in dealing with the possible departures of Van Persie and even Alex Song seem to suggest that may not be the case. Perhaps these are early indications of the Gunners’ improved financial competitiveness.
Speaking of Van Persie, I think the club has done extremely well in handling a difficult situation post-fourth of July. Arsenal have neither capitulated to Van Persie’s demands nor burnt bridges with the player by issuing retaliatory statements. It leaves the door open for Van Persie to make an unlikely u-turn if he so desires. Arsene has even allowed him to keep the armband for the moment so the Dutch striker is being given every opportunity to change his mind.
The uncertainty regarding Robin’s future seems more of a concern to Alex Ferguson than Arsene Wenger, the United manager apparently having called his Arsenal counterpart to discuss the Dutchman’s transfer. It’s not too hard to guess what Arsene’s response would have been to SAF’s request – ‘pay up or shut shut up, Sir’ would have kept the conversation crisp and crystal clear.
On a serious note, Ferguson’s proactivity in calling Arsene is a sign of how crucial the United manager considers early signings to be for his team’s preparations. Manchester United have always moved quickly for targets in the past, sometimes paying over the odds to secure signatures of players they are pursuing. Ferguson’s chat with Arsene was possibly to ascertain if Arsenal weren’t just stringing the Reds along. It would leave the Mancunians high and dry if Arsenal pulled the plug on a deal at the last-minute. Personally, I hope Arsene tells them to go to hell at 23:59 on 31st August.
In other news, I quite liked Lukas Podolski’s interview post-Cologne. The German was obviously delighted at having scored a brace on debut against his old club. The 27-year old feels he’s still a couple of weeks away from slipping into top gear, which is very encouraging. The ex-Koln man also had some nice things to say about his new club.
I have felt like a part of Arsenal from the first day and I am very proud to play here and wear the shirt. I was very surprised about the Arsenal fans because there were a lot in the stadium. I heard them cry my name and I was very surprised!
The enthusiasm and spirit he brings to the team is most welcome. For many seasons, we have suffered because key players have not stepped up in pressure situations. Arsenal were much more resilient last season though and the addition of experienced league-hardened professionals like Podolski and Cazorla will only help strengthen that mental resoluteness.
One Arsenal player looking to improve this season is Ryo Miyaichi. The Japanese youngster is off to Wigan to serve his third spell of apprenticeship since joining the Gunners. As I have stated previously, Wigan will suit Ryo perfectly with their 3-4-3 based around quick counter attacks. Tactically it would help the youngster as well, Roberto Martinez requiring his players to be very disciplined without the ball.
At Bolton, I felt Ryo went missing in many of the games. It was partly down to the Trotters style of play and partly due to the physical demands of playing week in week out at the top-level. I believe Miyaichi will see a lot more of the ball at Wigan and a better fitness level should see him make a more meaningful contribution. The talent is obvious to see but it has to be matched with consistency if the Japanese youngster wishes to force his way into Arsenal’s first team next year. Wigan is the perfect finishing school in my opinion. All the best Ryo.