The real football ebbs ever closer, and the pre-season matches are hotting up as a result. Match sharpness is returning and we are beginning to get a feel for who is likely to be taking up those eleven spots a week on Saturday.
So far, the stars of the show have been some of the up and coming players, three of them in particular.
The first is Bendtner, who probably has mixed feelings about Adebayor staying. Putting aside whether they actually get on or not, there is no doubt that the Dane would play a great deal more first team football if Adebayor left. On the other hand, to win trophies you need to keep your best players. Either way, Bendtner has been staking his claim in these early games, linking up well with teammates and looking lively in front of goal. This could be a big season for him.
Another who has shone has been Carlos Vela. After a long wait to arrive in England having signed back in 2005, the Mexican has certainly looked the part – fast, skillful and with an eye for goal. He will be a threat.
The final one has come out of left field. We knew about Jack Wilshere from his impressive exploits for the youth side last season, but no-one expected him to look so assured in pre-season, especially against the serious opposition of Real Madrid, yesterday. He’s sixteen, for goodness sake. But here is a real talent, and he has now been given GIlberto’s old number 19 shirt.
All three will be in and around the team, but it would be a surprise if any had forced their way into the first eleven, if there are no injuries. The only new man with a shot is Nasri, simply because he is replacing Hleb, but the trio I’ve been talking about are likely to start on the bench. In Wilshere’s case, even that is a massive step up.
Year after year we are accused of lacking depth, right up until someone watches our kids play.
Twelve days to go.