Greetings all. Wipe away those tears and sit down for your second blog of a big day for Arsenal. It’s been busy for me too, but I’ve managed to keep an eye on the traumatic events at our beloved club.
First up, at 9am, was Arsene’s press conference. Reading the quotes coming in I was quite sure that our manager had cracked under the strain and gone completely mad. A couple of choice quotes:
“I expect nobody to leave the club.”
“At the moment we have too big a squad – We are not in a position where we are short of players.”
Naturally the twitterverse was up in arms about this. It seemed for all the world as if The Emperor was indeed well and truly naked, and frankly it was becoming a little awkward and embarrassing.
Until, that is, I saw the video. You can have a watch of it here. It proves that, as ever, context is everything. The familiar curl of the lip and the twinkle eye instantly give an entirely different reading to what Arsene says.
He’s playing a game. And the aim of that game is “give nothing away; disturb the squad as little as possible before the Newcastle game”. And, on reflection, he does it rather well.
Of course it’s frustrating for us as fans – when Arsene communicates with the press he communicates indirectly with us, so when he tries to pull the wool over their eyes he simultaneously deceives supporters – but he has his reasons. What’s very clear to me is that Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri due to depart imminently. Both players have accordingly been left out of the squad for tomorrow’s game at Newcastle.
If you believe some reports, the Cesc deal is already done. There are conflicting stories coming out of the two clubs on this one, and the smart money is on the move being finalised on Monday. I for one won’t be saying my goodbyes until he’s definitely off. We’ve put up with this one for so long that another 48 hours or so isn’t going to hurt.
In Manchester, Roberto Mancini said still were “still working” on a deal for Nasri, but conceded it was “not easy”. I’m sure a few million pounds would smooth over any difficulties there.
In his pre-game interview for Arsenal.com, Arsene was asked about Birmingham centre-half Scott Dann. He said:
“He is one of the centre-backs we look at.”
We know Phil Jagielka is one of the others. Hopefully Arsene’s ultimate decision is driven by quality rather than value.
According to The Guardian’s Richard Williams, Arsene later told the newspaper journalists there was no deal for Juan Mata and none was likely, whilst reports of an agreed fee for Jadson are premature.
Finally, the club today announced their squad numbers for the 20011/12 season. New boy and possessor of “exceptional qualities” Alex Chamberlain inherits Denilson’s 15, suggesting the Brazilian probably won’t ever be back, whilst Ryo Miyaichi takes 31, Jenkinson 25, and Szczesny downgrades his 53 to a 13. One the major reasons for the delay in announcing the numbers was that Gervinho wanted compatriot Eboue’s 27, but the club were waiting for the right-back to be sold. Now, they’ve decided to just give it to him anyway, leaving Eboue without a squad number. It’s safe to assume he’ll be joining Cesc and Nasri in leaving the club before August is out.
Right. Tomorrow I’ll be back with a piece more focused on the Newcastle game and the season ahead. Till then.