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Half the perfect front line will play. Oh joy; it’s starting again.

I can’t remember ever being this excited about the Barnet game.

This blog is, of course, dedicated to giving eternal support to Arsenal, and so every season is full of hope and expectation, but this one is something else. The last time I felt this good pre-season was after the unbeaten season.

I think the heart of it all is the Arshavin-Rosicky-Eduardo concept. Of course I have no idea if the Lord Wenger sees the three of them on the pitch together, let alone going a stage further and having Arshavin, Rosicky, Eduardo and Van Persie on the field at the same time, endlessly swapping positions, meandering hither and yon, stepping up and back, receiving the ball from Cesc or Denilson.

But tush! I get carried away. It’s only a friendly.

Yet just the vague notion that maybe this could happen is enough to get the excitement higher and higher.

The squad is announced, and I reprint it below – although it is hardly “Untold” since it is on every other site. But maybe just this once I may be excused.

Here’s a quick run down of my opening thoughts on a few of those who appear to be playing.

William Gallas: we’re told it is going to be the last season for him, and he will walk away on a free. A shame because he is a sensational player, and sadly too many will just remember his difficulties as captain.

Johan Djourou: this will be his year. He is a terrific centre half, and the man for the future. By the end of the season he’ll have one of the two centre half spots for himself.

Thomas Vermaelen: you don’t get to be captain of Ajax at the age of six months without being something very special.

Tomas Rosicky: I was there when he went off for the last time, walking straight down the tunnel, full of disgust that his body had let him down. I’ll count it as an honour to be at the game to see him back. If he comes back to full ability, we are in for a treat this year.

Andrey Arshavin: This guy has exceeded my expectations and wildest dreams – and that was in a half season without a proper break. Now he’s settled in, his transfer could be one of the greatest of all times.

Jack Wilshere: Time to step up Jack. You’ve won the double with the kids, now say hello to the big world. I have no doubt he will be calm cool, collecting the ball and hey presto, who needs Cesc?

Francis Coquelin: How far has he come since this time last year when he played in those friendlies as a total unknown (well to me at any rate). I’d put him down as a player who is currently still unknown to many, but who won’t be by the end of the season.

Jay Emmanuel-Thomas: No one who saw the Youth Final at the Ems could have done anything except sit there with mouth wide open (or was that just me?) Brilliant, where ever he turns up. Probably ready for loaning, but just remember whatever glimpse you get of him pre-season.

Jay Simpson: one more season on loan, or now ready for the big time? The friendlies will tell us. He did his level best for WBA, despite all their struggles.

Nacer Barazite: We’ve been waiting and waiting. Will he be ready this year?

Who is missing

Eduardo, Clichy, Sagna, VP, Ade (presumably moving on), Theo, Traore, Cesc, Nasri, Diaby, Toure, Senderos, Vela, Denilson, Ramsey, Eboue, Bendtner.Gilbert, Lansbury, Merida, Gibbs, Henry (but that’s probably because he is with Barca).

Many of these are still on their holidays, or in the case of Merida still playing football. Others are just making way for the kiddiewinks.

(Interesting, actually, I’ve just noticed that on the Arsenal web site, Theo is classified as a forward. Not sure if he was last year. And Song is a defender, not a midfielder – ditto.)

But just look at the squad,

Manuel Almunia
Vito Mannone
William Gallas
Johan Djourou
Mikael Silvestre
Thomas Vermaelen
Tomas Rosicky
Andrey Arshavin
Jack Wilshere
Thomas Cruise
Craig Eastmond
Luke Ayling
Conor Henderson
Francis Coquelin
Jay Emmanuel-Thomas
Mark Randall
Emmanuel Frimpong
Gilles Sunu
Sanchez Watt
Jay Simpson
Nacer Barazite

And just in case you want more, take a look at http://www.arsenal.com/first-team/players for a look at the complete first team squad. A trifle mouth watering I would say.

So, its time to get the old Austin Seven out of the fridge, dust off the last-year-at-Highbury shirt, hope the rain stops, put on a silly hat, and head south down the A1, remembering to stop at Barnet rather than heading straight for Arnos Grove.

And on the billion to one chance you are going to be sitting near by and would like to say “hello” Jane and I are sitting in block G seats C1 and C2 in the Main Stand. The ticket says we are adults, but I am not too sure of that. Isn’t it nice to be in a stand without segregation.

If you have been, thanks for reading.

If you want to comment for the first time, please put “Ref Barnet” at the start of your email. If you don’t I might just decide it is a cut and paste job from elsewhere and not let it through.

19 comments to Half the perfect front line will play. Oh joy; it’s starting again.

  • IndianGooner

    Good post, Tony and like You, I and most Gooners are very excited for Arsenal and especially to see Rosicky back… I wish I’d the chance to come to watch the occassion live from the stadium instead of watching it far away from South Africa. Anyways, hope you and other Gooners have a great time at Barnet… And please dont forget to tell us less-fortunate-souls your experiences..

    I am looking forward to see the various combinations we’ll have this season and not just Dudu-Arshavin-Rosicky. We’ve RvP, Bendtner, Walcott, Vela & Nasri to add to the above 3.. Good times ahead..

    Regarding Walcott & Song, I too feel that they have been moved from Midfielders section to Forwards & Defenders section. Does that might mean there is a midfielder on his way. Hoping it to be a typical Arsene signing…

  • Hey Tony there seems to be a great feeling among all the Arsenal support.We didn’t really want any players leaving,but I think it would have been wrong to hold unto Adebayor any longer.I totally agree it’s great to see Rosicky back (it’s like a new signing)The players We have are all pledging there future to us and Arsene has a few young guns coming through this year and I dare say the Legend has a few tricks up his sleave.

  • Marc

    Tony – “I can’t remember ever being this excited about the Barnet game.” To be honest a bit of a daft comment, it’s the first game of pre season, there’s nothing riding on it. We won’t even see more than a couple of first team players but I’m so excited I can’t sit still. I always get withdrawal symptoms and spend most summers drooling like a rabid dog but this year does feel different. I don’t know if it’s the negativity by a section of our own (supposed) fans that I can’t wait to see eat humble pie, the expectation that at long last the press will have their wish and we will lose our CL spot (this time it’s Man City) or just that we have a team that has an attacking lineup that suppasses the “Invincibles”.

    I just have an amazing feeling that this is going to be a stunning year for Arsenal, not just on the pitch but with ManU having lost Ronaldo and Tevez and not managing to go anywhere near replacing them that if a team is to drop out of the CL places I think that ManU are the most vulnerable. If this were to happen the repuccusions will justify Arsenal’s and Wenger’s philosophy.

  • Martin

    Ref Barnet

    I must say I share your anticipation and excitement, I absolutely cannot wait for the game and the season to kick off.

    About Song and Theo, they have always been under the defender and attacker headings on Arsenal.com since the day they were put on there, don’t think the site has too much bearing on Arsenes tactical views.

  • steww

    I’m another confined to the internet stream for this one but it should be a wonderful moment seeing TR7 return to the fray. How we were supposed to cope without him after the mercenaries left I don’t know, but we didn’t do too badly, top 4 and two semis, so the addition of this truly exceptional talent combined with a returning EDS is indeed an utterly mouth watering prospect.

  • JediKnut

    Tony, great read!

    I feel the excitement sitting here in India.
    Wish I was in London so I could finally see a game at the Ems.
    Wish I could visit Barnet for pre-season games.

    Your blog is a way for us fans in far-off places to feel a touch more connected with these non-televised games, which are a lot more important than some Premier League games!

    Thanks for the posts, and have a great game!

  • LRV

    At long last, the pre-season is here. The drooling can now stop. Greaaaaaat!

    Sorry Tony, Top of the morning to you.

  • walter

    Same here, waiting in front of my pc untill kickoff time.
    I think I will feel a tear behind my eyes when I see Thomas back coming on the field. Must admit that I always touched when a player comes back after long injury. Maybe its becouse I couldn’t come back when I was 19 and broke my leg (a bit Eduardo like… 🙁

    Let the season begin

  • mingus

    I agree with all you wrote, especially the short notes on some of the players in today’s line-up. I too have great expectations for Cocquelin and think he will start to become a household name, by the end of the season. I would really like to see Jay Simpson have a good pre-season and make Arsene’s decision about whether to replace Adebayor, a resounding: “Not needed. We already have a replacement.” The thought of combinations of Eduardo, Thomas, AA and RVP is mouth-watering. Come on you Reds!!!!

  • pig

    mouth watering is right, like a big juicy melon. I, too, am glad that the hiatus is over and we can get back to life as normal. seven games over the next three weeks until the season proper starts. our squad is fantastic, even the nay-sayers have to admit that its looking better all the time.

    the roller coaster ride starts now.

  • Pete the First

    Mouth watering first team, if a little light still. Potentially a great side….potentially.

    Liverpool I think will be the team to beat, as they haven’t lost anyone, and might get a full season out of Gerrard & Torres. Man Utd will be strong if lacking the raw pace of the Medieran greaseball.

    We still don’t have that centre midfield ball winner. Song hopefully will fill it, but I doubt that will ever be a role that Denilson will play.

    I’ll be happy if Rosicky plays 10 games. Adebayor will be off in the sunset shortly, and Arshavin will undoubtly be our best player. Build the team round him and we could be in with a shout!

  • shotta-gunna

    H’mmm…Yummy! Thats what a new season feels like and to read some positive vibes. Thanks Tony for that menu, sorry I meant team sheet, it is mouth watering. I must say that am a little dissappointed that Ade seems to be moving on. Unlike many I think we are going to miss his goals and his ability to play the lone striker but, on this, in AW I trust plus the rumored 22 million pounds is nothing to sniff about.
    As you have alluded, with Ade gone, it means we may be playing a different system up front as I doubt Bendtner is suited or ready for a similar role. Shades of a Barcelona front three…that is what is so intriguing. H’mmm.

  • Nhan Le

    Good morning everyone (belatedly from the other side of the pond)! Thanks Tony for a great post as usual. Really excited for the new season, too!

  • mingus

    Oh, and Barazite!!!
    A Pires clone.
    How does Arsene fit him in?
    I hope he finds a way…..

  • Nhan Le

    on Adebayor leaving Arsenal:
    The theory on the press is that because fans are generally indifferent or even looking forward to the sale, it must be a good deal for a declining/lazy player. An indirect implication of this theory is that Arsenal should spend the cash right away for a replacement.

    There are 2 holes in this theory. One, there is no strong evidence that the majority or even a significant minority of fans are calling for the sale of Adebayor. He may have had a mediocre season, with speculation and a long injury. But this shouldn’t be the reason for all good will to dry up after such a dominating performance in 2008.

    Two, fans’ attitude don’t truly reflect the quality of a players, especially last season. All Arsenal fans (excluding Tony and his fellows) allegedly want Denilson and Song to go because of their “mediocrity.” I still remember Bendtner got booed at home only to come right back and score a winning goal at the Ems. Even Cesc didn’t play particularly well in games highlighted for Ade’s supposed “laziness.” We as fan like to echo each other’s dissatisfaction when things don’t go well, quickly forgetting the fundamentals in football – a world class player doesn’t turn mediocre overnight due to media speculations on a move to AC Milan (there might have been no Milan move at all but for his agent’s bluff to negotiate for higher salaries). Wenger knows too well to make his sales simply to meet fan’s demand.

    These two reasons lead me to believe that Ade is gone because Arsene sees that we’ve got better stuff in store, even compared to the Adebayor we’ve seen at his best. That is my alternative theory. I don’t think any of you have doubts about the quality of RvP, Eduardo, Arshavin or even Theo up front. For Nicklas, I would want to remind all in doubts that it’s his Denmark team that are in front in a table including Portugal and it’s he who scored the critical late goal that started a remarkable Dane comeback to beat Portugal.

    The foolish optimist that I am, I’m saying that we won’t bring in any new striker for the season. There is a significant possibility that Adebayor will prove his worth to the penny at City, but there is a bigger possibility that we’ll have more than enough goals to forget the undeserved jeers he received.

  • IndianGooner

    I too agree with Nhan Le. With the strikers we have and with AA, Nasri & Rosicky who can play behind the striker,m we have a lot of attacking strength which can make up for Ade’s goals…

    The only signing(if there is one) is someone in their late 20s or early 30s who can guide Denilson to become the DM he can be. I believe a lot in Denilson and am sure he is going to be as Great as an Arsenal Legend as our Wall. And if there is no more signing, I wouldne be very worried as I’m sure Denilson would be more than capable to the job himself.. He proved it in the later part of the season. He and Song proved more than capable to play for the Arsenal..

    Exciting times ahead for Arsenal..

  • mason

    If I¿m being completely honest the overwhelming feeling I am getting about Adebayor¿s departure is one of disappointment at what could have been. Had Adebayor kept his head down last season and focused on repaying the faith that Arsenal&Wenger put in him before he caught fire the year before, there¿s no way he would be moving to City. But his ego inflated, his workrate dropped and – understandably – the fans turned on him. It hurts me in many ways that I used to call Adebayor my favourite player. I thought he epitomised the sort of character I really enjoy in football; hard-working, creative, joyful. Last season he was neither of those and after his virtual admission that he had lost faith in the club and its fans there was no chance he was going to be this season either. There¿s no denying a motivated and chirpy Ade would have given a lot to our team but an unmotivated and unhappy one would have given us absolutely nothing. Personally I feel the exit of Adebayor will make our squad stronger – particularly if the fee for his transfer is used to sign a quality defensive midfielder. He¿s obviously a big and not always popular personality and his absence should give players like Eduardo and particularly Nicklas Bendtner the space to shine. It might also open up the possibility of a new striker signing with Marouane Chamakh from Bordeaux the most likely candidate. There is a theory going around that Adebayor¿s exit may see Wenger change the way his forward structure operates. Essentially a lone striker (Robin van Persie or Bendtner) would operate ahead of two support strikers (any two from Andrey Arshavin, Eduardo, Theo Walcott, Tomas Rosicky, Carlos Vela, Abou Diaby) and I think it would work quite well, particularly given the increased role that Arshavin might get to play. On that note its Bye, bye Ade. I look fwd2giving you a right booing when we play you.

  • Surinder

    RE THE BARNET GAME- I agree to a point that we cannor read too much into games like today but the problems at set pieces are still evident and will still need to be addressed with haste. However if wenger keeps kolo and gallas can anybody really see him signing another centre half ? I cant anyway

    we need a real hardman filling that position and like most people signing a DM would be my priority

    If we are to buy a striker then it has to be with a plan in mind as opposed to getting another body in. From what I believe huntelaar is streets ahead of the guy from bordeaux and he will score us goals when given chances but has he got the necessary pace ? Again I will say that I cannot fathom why anybody would buy any player that is going to be gone to the anc for a month in jan I would also question why we are after a striker in his mid 20’s that has an average strike ratio and that nobody had heard of before this summer

    The bottom line for me is dictated to by our transfer kitty – if wenger had 10m-15m already in his kitty before this deal then imo he should buy huntelaar and a DM with haste, however if he was potless before today and has to buy whatever players he needs from this money then we are sure to be looking at budget players only

  • steww

    Which is is Surinder? You say we shouldn’t read too much into the Barnet game then immediately read too much into it ref the defence. You talk of another centre half and we’ve already signed another centre half. You ask why we’d sign a striker that nobody had heard of when doing exactly this has always been Wenger’s genius.
    Cheer up mate, the future is bright, we have a fantastic squad and TR7 and EDS coming back is better than any new signings as they already know the team and understand the style of play.