Arsenal Potpourri – Gervinho, Squad Rotation And Under-21s
Midweek blues have firmly taken hold as it’s all gone rather slow in Goonersphere at present. Nuri Sahin hasn’t been spotted arriving for a medical at the Emirates. Ditto for Sebastian Squillaci at Camp Nou. And Stoke City is an extra day’s wait too, Arsenal playing on Sunday instead of Saturday.
Arsenal’s official website has been busy though, posting a host of player interviews besides statements from the manager. Whether it is Mikel Arteta calling for patience with new signings or Per Mertesacker’s belief that Podolski will soon be banging them in, Arsenal.com has ensured news of Song’s departure, as that of Van Persie before him, has been buried quickly beneath the positivity generated by the capture of three players with impressive CVs.
Gervinho is the latest player to confirm unity and ambition within the squad.
We’ve had a few changes at the Club and there’s a good spirit among the group – we’re all enjoying playing together. Everyone is happy and it goes without saying that the group is up for having a good season.
… the most important thing is that we’ve got a good strikeforce, we have to concentrate on ourselves, take care of our own business and I think that our attacking options can really make a difference this year.
Gervinho’s optimism is shared by fans. But the Ivorian must be aware that increased competition in the striking department means his place in the starting eleven is also under threat. With Podolski providing Arsene Wenger with efficiency and Cazorla with creativity on the flanks, the Ivorian can’t afford to fire blanks for too much longer.
Competition for places is healthy but it’s only effective if there’s some squad rotation where fringe players get opportunities to impress. Besides keeping the starting eleven honest, sensible rotation also ensures squad players remain match sharp and ready to step in when required. Such was Van Persie’s form and Arsenal’s need that Arsene Wenger didn’t do enough of that up front last season. This time around, let’s hope the load is more evenly shared and players like Gervinho are not frozen out completely even if Podolski, Cazorla and/or Giroud shine.
Further pressure on first team players could come from the Under-21 league. Arsenal began their season at the Emirates on Monday with a 3-1 win over Bolton. It was an impressive comeback from the Gunners, having gone a goal and a man down after keeper Damian Martinez was sent off for a foul in the area. But Thomas Eisfeld with the equalizer and Conor Henderson with a brace secured a confidence boosting victory.
Unlike previous seasons where the Reserves team competed in a division-based format without any real reward to play for, the U-21s is spread over a league and knockout stage and culminates with one team winning the U-21 League title. Rules allow three overage players in the team so those on the periphery of the first team and players returning from injury can also benefit from these competitive fixtures. Players like Eisfeld and Gnabry have already impressed and if one of them were to show remarkable improvement, they could force their way into the manager’s thoughts for the FACup and COCup competitions.
It’s a short post today, here’s hoping something newsworthy transpires soon. Nuri Sahi signing for Arsenal is top of my wishlist.