Jul 292010
 

Years ago, pre-season friendlies were invisible to all but the hardcore fan who travelled to watch the team take on a bunch of part-timers or second string players. Newspapers did not report on the games – the most you would get was the result buried on the inside pages – and without the 24/7 news cycle there was no need to desperately fill hour after hour with mundane exclusives. In short, no corporation cared enough to analyse the July calendar, and as such we had no visibility of the goings on.

Today, of course, we live in a different world. Matches are streamed online, reported on Sky Sports News as if the results were critical, and every player is scrutinised before they have even had a chance to build up basic fitness (or in the cases of Arshavin and Vela, work off their expanded waistlines).

It is easy to slip into the trap of drawing conclusions at this stage. Defensive mistakes are to be expected when teammates have only just met, partnerships have not been formed, and even some language barriers are yet to be negotiated. To an extent, we understand that and forgive a certain lack of impermeability. But it goes further than that.

While many rightly shy away from excess criticism in these early days, we are less restrained when doling out platitudes, especially when indicating a certain player to be ready to step up in the coming season. What we forget is that most of our opposition are lower league or even part-time opposition, and looking impressive against them is a false barometer.

To put it another way, how many times have we seen a player shine in the Carling Cup, but would hesitate before suggesting they should be featuring in the first team? Most people’s description of Vela’s current position comes to mind, and I’d argue that the likes of Hoyte, Randall and Simpson are among others who will never break through the glass ceiling despite excelling at that level. Yet most of our pre-season opposition are not only weaker than those faced by our kids in those competitions, but they have little to play for themselves. Anyone can thrive when the pressure and intensity are dialled down.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that those that have impressed cannot make that step up, only that it would be false to demand their promotions based on these meaningless run-outs. I fear that if we lose a couple of early games, there will be many fans saying ‘Frimpong was excellent in pre-season, he should be playing’, and using it as a stick with which to beat the manager. We’ve seen it before with the constant calls for Wilshere to get playing time – this is the third consecutive pre-season in which he has appeared ready.

So I try not to draw too many conclusions, especially this early in proceedings. The Emirates Cup is a better indicator purely because the opposition are stronger, so I’ll begin to take a keener interest from Saturday (not least because I have a ticket). I’ve always thought our annual preparations are spot on – get the fitness up against the cannon fodder before testing your sharpness against quality.

Transfers

In other news, I have mixed feelings about Campbell not signing a new contract. On the one hand, his attitude in the dressing room would have set an example to others, but at the same time if he had agreed a year extension, Wenger might have been tempted not to sign another defender. Now he absolutely has to. Sol’s decision may yet prove to be a blessing in disguise.

As for Cesc, the latest story is that he is ‘torn’ between Arsenal and Barcelona. However, the quotes are attributed to an interview with DIR Emotions, a Spanish magazine that holds no mention of the conversation on their site. I suspect that his expressing an affection for both clubs has been deliberately twisted, and moreover that such an interview pre-dates this summer. I would be very surprised if Cesc’s next move was anything other than talking through official channels. In short, don’t panic.

That’s it for today. August, and real football, is around the corner.

  13 Responses to “Pre-season can be a deceptive indicator”

  1. All being well I can see two maybe three young players making an impact on Arsenal`s season. I`m just hoping they are included as a part of rotation and not have it forced upon them by injuries to others. In selected games I would like to see them in the starting line up giving breathing space to the likes of RVP, Asharvin and even Fabregas.
    Let`s hope the monkey stays off Van Persie`s back this season and Andre realizes he still got to prove he`s the star he thinks he is.

    • If Van Persie can stay fit, we’ll have a much better time – he was the key part of our early season goal fest last year.

  2. That previous comment was made by Aussie Jack who hit the wrong button…

  3. OK, 1st game is closing in, we may not sign anyone else and CF4, RvP10 and NB are all out of the picture for our trip to Anfield. What should the team look like?

    My suggestion
    GK (the 4 we have are fairly equal with their own strengths and weaknesses)
    Sagna, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Clichy
    Nasri, Song, Rosicky
    Walcott, Chamakh, Arshavin

    Subs: GK, Eboue, Gibbs, Djourou, Diaby, Wilshere, Vela

    • Dont Rule Out Rvp And Cesc Yet,, They Could Still Make it(doubt They Would Play The Full Game ANyway)
      Because He sed (AW)they will not be ready If Work Need To Be Done :/, i Maybe Rong NBut My Thort :)#

  4. you’re absolutely right, man. the doom and gloomers are up early this season, but the praise singers too can be too flattering atimes. i wish the pre season matches are banned from the airwaves, and the results announced just before the ems cup. i really wish!!!

  5. I propose that Arsenal fans World wide post letters once a week for the next four weeks to UEFA & FIFA complaining about Barcelona FC’s ‘tapping up’ of Cesc Fabregas. Also post a letter just once to Arsenal FC requesting that they formally complain to UEFA & FIFA. I have drawn up 3 template letters that I will email to willing participants. All you need to do is type in your own Name & Address before printing off & posting. Momentum will be boosted by you forwarding the email to every one of your Arsenal FC fan family & friends, encouraging them to participate.
    The aim of repetitive letters is to create an Admin headache for UEFA & FIFA with thousands of letters received from all over the world & display the strength of feeling from Arsenal FC fans. The purpose of the single letter to Arsenal FC is again to display the strength of feeling from us fans.
    My email address for this campaign from where I will email you the letter templates is …….. ArsenalFansHateBarcelonaFC@gmail.com

    • Won’t achieve anything I’m afraid – FIFA and UEFA are unlikely to bend from any kind of fan pressure.

  6. Plus, its not even August and the transfer window has a long way to run yet. Inevitably there will be a last minute flurry of moves. It’s often the domino effect. Once one goes, that triggers a raft of moves between clubs. Don’t slit your wrists or tear up your season ticket just yet.

    I still think we will bring in at least two more – a GK and CB and then maybe, just maybe, Melo for Clichy, but that is mostly media and blogging hype I feel.

    But my enthusiasm for the away Liverpool fixture first up is not as bright as other bloggers I’ve read. The thought of a brand new stick insect in the middle of our back four and a midfield without Cesc is daunting to say the least.

    • A centre back is surely certain – Wenger keeps saying how much we need one. I hope we do get a new keeper, but not sure if we will, and I really hope Melo stays well away.

  7. Great article, Mainly a result of the media driven want want want culture. Also things are very much expressed in black & white these days & players are either great or useless & often only judged in the instant.Maybe coz a lot of bloggers are also kids & have a need to shout about ‘NEW’ things.

  8. I also think we will make two more signings one being the obvious Central defender and then one of either: a great young prospect that gets picked up on the cheap, a stop gap keeper thats a tiny step up on what we have, or another defensive minded player most likely to be a utility. Personally if I had to choose two players I would pick Mertesacker and Vertonghen. Many are saying Mertesacker would not fit well into our system and I have to whole heartedly disagree. There may have to be a couple of tweaks to our tactics such as as line being slightly deeper but our line sits far too high at the moment anyway which is why teams constantly demolish us on the break. Mertesacker would add a lot to our back line including calmness, aerial stability, experience, leadership, he would help in all set pieces, he rarely if ever gives away a foul and lastly he is a player that concentrates on defence more than any other defender we have. This is very important in our team because we need someone to call other players back and be aware of other teams on the break etc. Vertonghen would be my first choice Center mid but obviously would alternate with Diaby etc (who badly needs the competition) he would also be very good cover for Song and Vermaelen. He is another player who adds to our weaknesses. He has height, leadership, great defensive ability yet has the ball control and ability to play in the center of the park. If we lined up with a line up like this at Liverpool i’d be confident of a win.
    Any of the four keepers, Mannone or Szczesny would be my picks.
    Sagna Mertesacker Vermaelen Clichy
    Song Vertonghen
    Rosicky
    Nasri Chamakh Arshavin

    Off the bench:
    Walcott
    Fabregas
    Van Persie

  9. I read this on another site but deserves attention

    “I propose that Arsenal fans World wide post letters once a week for the next four weeks to UEFA & FIFA complaining about Barcelona FC’s ‘tapping up’ of Cesc Fabregas. Also post a letter just once to Arsenal FC requesting that they formally complain to UEFA & FIFA. I have drawn up 3 template letters that I will email to willing participants. All you need to do is type in your own Name & Address before printing off & posting. Momentum will be boosted by you forwarding the email to every one of your Arsenal FC fan family & friends, encouraging them to participate.
    The aim of repetitive letters is to create an Admin headache for UEFA & FIFA with thousands of letters received from all over the world & display the strength of feeling from Arsenal FC fans. The purpose of the single letter to Arsenal FC is again to display the strength of feeling from us fans.
    My email address for this campaign from where I will email you the letter templates is …….. ArsenalFansHateBarcelonaFC@gmail.com

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