Archive for August 4th, 2011

Members Day: A view from the stands

42 comments August 4th, 2011

Today was Members Day, and my first trip to the Emirates since the back end of last season.  It felt great to slip back in to familiar rituals: the walk down Holloway Road, the steps up to the concourse, the site of players leaving the field injured.

I hadn’t attended a Members Day since 2006, when it was as much a chance to be one of the first fans to enter the new ground as anything else.  On that day, the squad themselves took a back seat as fans gawped at the new and spectacular surrounding.  Since then, the sheen of the new place has worn off a little, and today all eyes were turned keenly on events on the field.

Whereas last year squad members were introduced individually, this year they all entered together.  It was a prudent move designed to prevent a negative reception for any players whose future might be in doubt.

The much talked about squad photo was cancelled due to poor weather conditions, but the big news remained that Cesc Fabregas was present.  Not only was he present, but he took a full part in training, and showed no sign of the “muscular injury” that has kept him out of all our pre-season fixtures thus far.  There was intrigue surrounding several absentees: aside from the injured Walcott and Wilshere, neither Samir Nasri, Emmanuel Eboue, Manuel Almunia or Kyle Bartley were involved in the session.

There are varying explanations.  Nasri and Eboue were certainly both present at the stadium, and indeed Eboue has since been signing autographs up on club level, so I’d imagine they’re both carrying injuries of some kind.  However, the rumours of Eboue moving to Galatasaray surfaced again in Turkey last night, so perhaps he’s being spared ahead of a potential medical.

Manuel Almunia is free to leave the club, so was presumably wandering the Spanish highways somewhere wearing a sandwich-board saying ‘Goalkeeper for hire’.  Kyle Bartley has just signed a new deal, but having secured his long-term future I think we might be keen to send him out on loan again.  Rangers remain interested.

Things kicked off with an eleven-a-side game on a shortened pitch.  Bendtner lashed in a volley to give his green team the lead, before Henri Lansbury immediately followed up with a screamer from long range.  Benik Afobe fired across goal to pull one back, before Bendtner stabbed in a third to seal a 3-1 victory.

The squad then split in to two groups and carried out basic passing and shooting exercises, working the ball wide to cross in to the box.  In front of me, Ryo Miyaichi demonstrated his dexterity, happily crossing with both feet from the left flank for Bendtner and RVP to finish.

There followed a seven-a-side tournament on a half pitch, with three teams:

Yellows: Mannone, Vermaelen, Song, Lansbury, Arshavin, Jenkinson, Gervinho, Bendtner

Greens: Szczesny, Sagna, Djourou, Traore, Afobe, Frimpong, Fabregas, Chamakh

Whites: Fabianski, Squillaci, Gibbs, Djourou (again), Rosicky, Miyaichi, Ramsey, Van Persie

First up the Yellows beat the Greens thanks to a tap in from Gervinho – making up for missing an absolute sitter in the XI-a-side.  Then the Whites beat the Yellows thanks to an instant piece of control and finishing from Robin van Persie.

In the final game, the Greens battered the Whites 5-0, with Bendtner and Afobe each netting a brace.  A shocking result, until you remember the Whites had Squillaci.

After the round robin tournament the players warmed down with a series of shuttle runs.

It’s hard to read too much in to a training session, but Bendtner looked miles ahead of Chamakh, whose touch was often unsure even in these pressure-free conditions.  Bendtner, meanwhile, was smashing them in from all angles.  On current form, if I had to keep one of the pair, I know which it would be.

Benik Afobe also really impressed me – the 18-year old didn’t look a bit out of place.  I suppose the degree to which he is involved with the first team could depend on whether or not we manage to finalise a deal for Joel Campbell, who scored twice last night in the U-20 World Cup.

Unfortunately, both Carlos Vela and Aaron Ramsey left the field with knocks, though Ramsey was spotted post-training looking fit as a fiddle.  On the far side of the field, Theo Walcott spent the session building up his fitness alone.

I did have access to a Player Q&A, but decided to give it a miss after remembering that generally footballers are more entertaining on the pitch than off it.  So far my decision has been vindicated, with stories that Theo Walcott responded to such thrilling questions as “What do you eat for breakfast?” with answers as illuminating as “toast”.

Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of Members Day was presence of Stan Kroenke – and I don’t think he’d only come to see Eboue.  A board meeting is reportedly due to be held this afternoon, at which it’s impossible to think that transfer business will not be discussed: crucially, what to do about Barcelona’s latest offer for Cesc Fabregas.  The repercussions of that meeting could define our season.

To subscribe to a daily email update from Gunnerblog, click here. Or to subscribe via RSS, simply click here. Thanks.

Search Gunnerblog

Get your Gunnerblog t-shirts now!

get regular updates from GS with twitter

Top Gunn

Cesc Fabregas
The man in form.

    Retro Arsenal T-Shirts from - Bringing Back The Good Old Days!: Click Here!

Latest Posts

Sponsored Links


August 2011
« Jul   Sep »

Posts by Month

Most Recent Posts

Posts by Category


Powered By

eXTReMe Tracker