Ajax 0 – 0 Arsenal

Another nil-nil, but a much better game. It was in fact a very good Arsenal performance. For those who didn’t see it, I’ll just rattle through the players and let you know how they did.

Jens Lehmann
Made a great save as early as the 6th minute when he flung himself across the goal to divert Ibrahimovic’s effort. Looked particularly strong and confident. Perhaps the added pressure of Almunia has caused him to up his game – last season he had only an inexperienced Graham Stack and a crippled Stuart Taylor breathing down his neck – the Spaniard’s arrival could spark a surge in form from Mad Jens.
8/10

Justin Hoyte
Lauren is still off in Spain “having a baby”. It is feared any damage sustained here could keep him out for the start of the season. Let’s hope we’re merely over-reacting.
However, Hoyte was Just-in time (I’ll get me coat…) to fill in for Ralph. Unfortunately, he was a bit shit. Shhh. Don’t tell anyone.
To be fair, he was alright, he was just a little bit lacking defensively. And offensively. Maybe a bit over-awed by the occasion. I still prefer Eboué, who came on and impressed again.
5

Kolo Toure
Fairly immaculate. If such a thing is possible, he seems even stronger and faster than last season. I hope he will one day be recognised as one of the best centre-backs in the world, because he’s certainly heading that way. Better than Gallas.
8

Pascal Cygan
Fairly solid. His start last night, coupled with Lille’s refusal to pay up for him, makes it likely he’ll face Everton on the opening day.
7

Ashley Cole
The best left-back in the world? Made two trade-mark off-the-line clearances, and is, in my opinion, the best left-sided English player since John Barnes by some distance. Just excellent.
9

Freddie Ljungberg
Looked very bright for the first half an hour, then tired. The battle between he and Pennant will be fascinating.
8

Matthieu Flamini
I was very impressed with our new boy. His passing was extremely tidy, and he looked easily the best tackler in our midfield. Shades of Parlour/Butt in him. Could be an important player for years and years. Doesn’t seem nearly as young as he is.
8

Gilberto
Average. Nothing good, nothing bad. Did his usual screening role fairly effectively.
6

Robert Pires
Looks back to his best. Linked with Cole superbly, and seems super-fit. Was replaced by Robin van Persie, who was booed heavily by the crowd, but reacted well to show some good touches.
8

Dennis Bergkamp
Wasn’t at his mercurial best, but one jinking run in the 56th minute was worth the admission fee alone, and nearly resulted in a blinding goal. Was skipper at his old stomping ground. Deserves a great send-off this season.
7

Jose Reyes
Won the award for Player of the Tournament after two excellent performances. In the 15th minute, he struck the bar from with a left-footed volley. In the 16th, his placed shot bent just round the post; and in the 17th, Gascoigne-like, he just failed to connect with Ljungberg’s cross. Once the goals start going in, they won’t stop. His movement is superb.
8

———–

In other news, this AS article reports, as does the Daily Mail, that Dein and Vieira met yesterday, and the Frenchman confirmed his desire to leave. Manuel Almunia is also quoted as saying that Vieira won’t talk about the speculation at the camp, and Dennis Bergkamp has hinted that he knows Paddy’s intent is to depart.

I’m bored of it, and so are you.

So we’ll just wait ’till tomorrow for yet more Vieira-based mess.

Hurrah.

One lynch-pin is crocked, but another might be staying…

It’s hidden away in a little corner of an article, but it is there. A direct quote from “an Arsenal squad member”, laced into a couple of paragraphs about Vieira’s supposed decision. I quote:

Wenger … will be encouraged by the news that
Vieira seems to be leaning towards honouring his contract with the Gunners and
remaining in London. While the midfielder is still refusing to make a
public statement on his future and Real Madrird’s bid to sign him, he has
beeen telling team-mates that he intends to stay in London. An Arsenal
squad member revealed to The Mail on Sunday: “I asked Patrick directly what his
intentions were and he told me that he is going to stay at Arsenal because he
wants to carry on playing with the French guys here. He hasn’t come out
and said anything publicly because he told me this story comes out every
year
“.

Sounds promising.

In other news, we might sue the FA, because Sol Campbell is buggered. It’ll be interesting to see whether it’s Senderos or Cygan who gets the nod.

We might get a clue tonight, when we play Ajax.

Tata.

Arsenal 0 – 0 River Plate

This was not a good game.

Last year, I sat down and watched this entire torunament, and it was hugely entertaining. However, my deepest sympathies lie with any neutral who so foolishly decided to try and watch this snore-fest.

However, for the sake of goodness knows what, I’ll attempt some sort of a review:

Manuel Almunia was impressive in everything he did. Came for crosses, commanded the back-line, and distributed extremely well. Never really tested, but promising.
7/10

Manu Eboue is someone who particularly impressed me at Barnet, and who did so again last night. His driving runs with pace, power, and flair are not entirely dissimiliar to those of our supposed transfer target, Hatem Trabelsi. However, it makes little difference, as Eboue is far from eligible for a work permit. Still, I’d expect him back on another trial here next year.
7

Philippe Senderos is a player who I’ve always supported, because I genuinely feel he has all the credentials to become a top-drawer defender. On a couple of occasions last night he looked a little shaky, but he was paired with Cygan, and he still didn’t look out of his depth. Will push Cygan all the way to start alongside Kolo at Everton.
6

Pascal Cygan was our captain. vomits>
6

Gael Clichy was one of our best players. Got forward to support Reyes well, and helped out Cygan at the back plenty. We’re very lucky to have both he and Cole.
8

Jermaine Pennant worked his arse off. He ran all the way up and down the line like a greyhound, and was one of our better players defensively. Didn’t get the chance to show off many of his skills, but his drive and determination brought him through.
7

Marco Ne is the other Ivorian triallist, who also impressed me at Barnet. He didn’t do quite as well in this game, but still showed flashes of his ability. He can pick a pass, and covers the ground well. Not as likely to make it as Eboue, but worth another look.
6

Cesc Fabregas is so good that he sometimes makes me hope V!£ra leaves just so we see more of the young Spaniard. He just doesn’t make mistakes. He’s physically grown in stature since he joined us, and now sports an intimidating mullet. He’s just a class above. I’ve never been so sure that a young kid will make it. If you want me to compare him to someone, I’d suggest a combination of Edu and Deco. The game effectively finished when he was withdrawn.
8

Jose Reyes played out on the left, and Arsene suggested that wouldn’t be the last time he did that this season. The thing is, he’s very good out there, but he just doesn’t get enough supply to be as effective as he can be. The kid is very much a rough diamond. Sometimes he looks like Maradona, other times a very poor Michael Hughes impressionist. I think he really does just need games. Was rightly given the man of the match award for his efforts… plus he played the full 90. Was probably our most effective offensive player.
8

Francis Jeffers is just not in tune with the other Arsenal players. He doesn’t click. They move one way, he turns another. They pass one way, and he’s standing by the opposite corner flag. He’s fighting a losing battle. Get out whilst you can, Fran.
5

Robin van Persie probably had his worst game of our pre-season last night. Things just weren’t happening for him. There were a couple of long-range shots that looked alright, but beyond that, his touch was heavy and he was a little clumsy. Still, he is real class though, I promise.
6

————

The subs did fuck all.

I’d link you to other Arsenal news at Newsnow, but as you will notice, Arsenal-Mania has gone insane.

Lovely.

Adieu.

Boing Boing Kanu

The big lanky Nigerian has joined West Brom on a free, in a move which leaves only Sylvain Wiltord still searching for a club.

Funny that.

Ipswich are still being linked with young right-back-cum-centre-half Justin Hoyte.  To me at least, this would seem an odd move.  Arsene has spent this whole pre-season “doing a Kolo” on Hoyte by switching him to the centre, and I think that he has a decent chance of displacing Cygan as 4th choice in that role.  Personally, I’d like to stay – especially if Trabelsi doesn’t sign.

Francis Jeffers has turned down a loan move to Charlton, claiming he wants to end his nomadic existence and settle somewhere permanently; Arsenal or otherwise.  I think this is fair enough.  The kid is easily good enough to play in the top division, and if he can find a club to take on his contract, we probably ought to just let him go.  A few more pre-season goals wouldn’t harm his reputation either.

Today we play River Plate.  Hurrah.  I was at the Barnet game earlier in pre-season, and van Persie had me drooling.  I hope he shows the same sort of ability to any of you other folk lucky enough to be able to see the couple of games over this weekend.  It’s likely that Almunia, Senderos, Cesc, Pennant, and Percy himself will all get starts.

There’s no Vieira news.  Nobody knows diddlysquat.  Wait ’till next week on that one, methinks.

See you after the game.