“It’s only noise”
By Tony Attwood
Arsène Wenger is opening up a little in his interviews, and giving us a little more insight into how matters are going to pan out in the opening match of the season.
One big hint comes in a statement directly from him that he will buy one or two centre halves – and it seems one of them is probably Werder Bremen’s Per Mertesacker.
He’s also been dropping hints about the line up for the game against Liverpool Reds (as the owners lovingly called them on buying the club)
Cesc Fábregas and Robin Van Persie start training on 5 August, he has confirmed, and that might be too late to play in the game against the Insolvency (as they sometimes get called here), but it is a great exaggeration to take this to mean “Cesc Fábregas and Robin van Persie likely to miss opener at Liverpool” as one newspaper headline screams this morning.
What the manager actually said was, “They might be short for the first game but I don’t know. That will depend on the fitness work that they have done during the holiday.”
There’s also a lovely quote from Wenger on the subject of a Spanish team hovering on the edge of administration (see recent articles). About their frantic antics this summer, which can now be seen as nothing other than an attempt (a successful attempt until recently) to hide the club’s financial disasters from the press, Mr Wenger said, “It is only noise. In our job, we have to deal with what we can master. What we cannot influence is not to worry about. We have learned about that and I believe that in a big club you have to live with those kind of noises without being disturbed.”
I think that statement should be on banner headlines. “It’s only noise”.
As to the squad as a whole, over the last few weeks I have tried to draw together who we have in place and looked at as a whole it looks rather impressive to me. Here’s the summary of the three articles recently published.
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Forwards: Arshavin, van Persie*, Bendtner*, Chamakh, Walcott, Vela. (Six)
The kiddies: Murphy, Sunu, Watt, and throw in Wellington Silva in January. (+ Four)
Midfielders: Diaby, Wilshere, Fabregas*, Rosicky, Nasri, Denilson, Ramsey*, Song, Eboue (Nine)
The kiddies: Frimpong, Lansbury, Emmanuel Thomas, Barazite, Henderson (+ Five)
Defence: Sagna, Vermaelen, Gibbs, Clichy, Koscielny, Djourou, Traore (Seven )
The kiddies: Nordveit, Eastmond (+ Two)
Total 33 for the outfield positions.
* = may not be available for the first game. To summarise the injuries
Denilson has not played so far, and probably won’t in the Ems Cup but will play in the final warm up in Poland.
Diaby – same as Denilson
Bendtner – it is clear now that he played for Denmark in S Africa with his injury and made it worse. Another player being mucked about by international rubbish. No knowing how long he will be out.
Ramsey – the effects of Shawcross are still there and he will not be seen until the late autumn.
Rosicky – no real injury, just a niggle.
So can we do an early prediction of the team for Liverpool Insolvency away? We could try…
Sagna, Vermaelen, Koscielny, Clichy
Arshavin, Chamakh, Walcott/Vela
OK, no exciting changes there, except without Cesc, Nasri can play centre, and he has been on fire feeding in behind the front man. In effect this formation gives us Walcott or Vela dropping back a little and allowing Nasri to move forward. This looks a rather good line up to me.
As for the keeper, I have no more idea than anyone else whether it will be Almunia, one of the others or a new guy.
And that is not to suggest that I think this is the team for the season – far from it. Against Blackpool the following week I would hope to see Wilshire and Emmanuel Thomas get a part of the action.
Just as a final point, here, once again, is the “25” – the players over 21 on qualification day who have to be registered with the EPL as our players. As you will see, we now have six places available and only one of them would need to be “home grown”. So we could buy five new players none of whom is “home grown” and still be fine. (Incidentally we have debated the “25” rule til we are blue in our collective faces. Before shouting at me and telling me I have got the rule wrong, do have a look at the in depth analysis we’ve been doing on this through the summer – details in the links below. There’s a million different versions of what the rule means, but I think we have got this right based on the official statement from the EPL).
3 Mannone (Home Grown Player No 1)
7 Djourou (Home Grown Player No 2)
8 Clichy (Home Grown Player No 3)
9 Song (Home Grown Player No 4)
10 Denilson (Home Grown Player No 5)
12 Fabregas (Home Grown Player No 6)
16 van Persie
17 Bendtner (Home Grown Player No 7)