A 3-0 win over the Turks last night was, by all accounts, an excellent workout for many of the players, with the most notable performers being Van Persie, Adebayor, Walcott and Denilson, the first three of which will certainly be expected to play prominent roles this season.
Not a lot was seen of Sagna, who played a half against a side not likely to trouble him too much, and da Silva, who played the last twenty and showed a few neat touches and a potential ability to provide assists as well as continue his well known scoring record.
Potentially more revealing was the news of the signings of two more South American starlets, Angel Di Maria and Pedro Silva (is the name Silva a South American equivalent of Smith or something – how many do we want?), as revealed by Salamanca, who the pair are apparently joining on loan in order to get their passports sorted, in much the same way as Carlos Vela, who is due to get his in January.
Pedro can play anywhere up the left channel, while Di Maria has been starring in the Under 20 World Championships for Argentina. The question this poses is – does Wenger buy starlets out of habit, or is he planning on extending his contract? If this were his last season with Arsenal he’d never be able to utilise these players, and while I imagine he wants to look after the club in the long term even if not here, I can’t help but think this is an indication that he sees his work as unfinished.
I’m sure many will be frustrated at the signing of more youths, but in reality this does not affect potential first team signings, all this youth policy guarantees is that every year there are players capable of making the step up to become first team regulars. Last season Clichy was the main demonstration of the success of this approach, while many more in the Carling Cup especially showed that if required, they could do the job. It is important to be able to improve the squad without buying – it provides a quicker growth of squad strength.
Some will succeed, some will go quietly, and some will leave moaning that they never got the chance. But the point is with enough raw talent in the youth squads, the long term future of the team is much more assured.
And how much more satisfying is it when you get a crisis in one position and you can bring in a starlet who turns out to be pretty darned good than do a Chelsea and cry that when you’ve lost two centre backs you’ve got no-one left despite spending sixteen trillion pounds and selling two of your centre halves in the summer?
Finally, Stan Kroenke gave his clearest indication yet that he wants to step up his takeover plans, with a representative saying he wants to meet the rest of the board as soon as possible. It’s time, I guess. I feel a certain inevitability about this, and I’m still extremely uncomfortable about it. We’ll see.
Have a good weekend.