Positives/negatives to take out of Arsenal’s pre-season + Wenger admits Inler interest

Hello again from a very sunny Brisbane – I hope you had an excellent weekend. Just a quick round-up of the Amsterdam Tournament to go through today before I move on to more important matters.

As most of you will know by now Arsenal competed in – and won – the Amsterdam Pre-Season Tournament over the weekend. Arsene Wenger’s boys played two matches, defeating hosts Ajax 3-2 in the opener before drawing 1-1 with Spanish side Sevilla.

The first match saw a near-full strength Arsenal side fight from two goals down at half-time to steal a late win. The first period was characterised by some rusty defending from Kolo Toure, two excellent strikes by Luiz Suarez and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and some less-than-perfect finishing by Emmanuel Adebayor.

The second half, though, saw a complete turnaround as Adebayor scored a fine headed goal before playing in substitute Nicklas Bendtner for the equaliser. Adebayor then continued his act of recovery by tapping home the winner after a fine move involving Denilson.

It was a fine attacking performance after such a shaky start and demonstrated what a near full-strength Arsenal side is capable of.

The second match proved to be an even more tricky affair for Wenger’s side but for good reason with the manager changing the entire starting XI. Philippe Senderos captained the side and Arsenal went ahead very early on when Carlos Vela showed good determination and strength to hold off Abdoulay Konko and fire low past the goalkeeper.

But from that moment on it was mostly Sevilla who went on the attack and forcing Lukasz Fabianski into a number of notable saves. The Arsenal goalkeeper was by far his side’s best player as Sevilla came at him time and time again, but even he was helpless to stop the late equaliser from Javier Chevanton.

But it ended at 1-1 as Arsenal picked up their first trophy of the new season.

Although the second match probably didn’t go as Wenger planned there were plenty of positives to take out of this tournament. Indeed, there are three things that I have taken out of the pre-season preparations that have me looking towards the next season with real optimism. They are:

  • Adebayor’s tireless performances suggests he will be anything but a one-season wonder.
  • All four of our strikers are looking very sharp. Robin van Persie and Adebayor will certainly start the season as first-choice but Wenger will have no hesitation to throw in Vela or Bendtner should the quality drop.
  • Both goalkeepers are looking very solid. Manuel Almunia has essentially been faultless while Fabianski’s performance against Sevilla suggests he is making positive strides.

On the flip-side, there are a couple of things that have me a little worried. They are:

  • The lack of depth in central midfield. Wenger has confirmed that Abou Diaby will miss the first month of the season and this concerns me for two reasons – the first being that I’m still unconvinced by Denilson and the second being that it illustrates that the squad is too thin in this area of the park. With Diaby out and Alex Song at the Olympics it puts a lot of pressure on Denilson and of course, 17-year-old Aaron Ramsey, who will surely sit on the bench against FC Twente on Wednesday night.
  • Philippe Senderos and Johan Djourou still don’t look quite ready. I’ll never write the pair off – indeed, I think Djourou in particular will turn out to be a great centre-back – but in the meantime I can’t see any harm in bringing a Nemanja Vidic-like defender to cover for Gallas and Toure. I know it won’t happen but I still see it as a big problem if it doesn’t.

To his credit, it does seem like Wenger is making an effort to rectify the situation regarding the lack of depth in central midfield if not the lack of a hard-man in defence. Indeed, Udinese midfielder Gokhan Inler has been strongly linked with the manager himself suggesting that even if the Swiss player does not come in, someone else will.

In his own words:

“We try to find the right player. My target is always to spend the right money on the right player, therefore the timing of your buy is also important as well. I do not know yet if it will be [Gokhan Inler] or somebody else.”

The manager also went on to say that although there is interest in Inler (and perhaps others) he is still a little way off making the required signing because he is too busy at the moment. It is, when you think about it, a fair point. Indeed, Wednesday night sees the first ‘official’ match of the season and it is – in many ways – one of the most important they will play all season. FC Twente may be managed by Steve McClaren (heh heh) but they beat Ajax last season to earn this play-off spot and they will be hell-bent on knocking Arsenal off at home.

I’ve little doubt that Arsenal will get a positive result from their trip to Holland but the boys need to be very focused. There have been mistakes from each of the central defenders throughout the pre-season and Wednesday night is the time those little lapses in concentration to stop. It’s also the time for Denilson to stop dwelling on the ball for too long and the time for Theo Walcott and Samir Nasri to get the bit between their teeth and go at defenders with the same intensity that Jack Wilshere has during pre-season.

I don’t know what else to say really so I think I’ll wait for more material in tomorrow’s news. Until then, enjoy yourselves.

Have your say on Arsenal’s pre-season or where the squad stands by leaving a comment.



  1. Does Wenger do everything then? Ridiculous. Imagine if Cesc gets injured, we’re supposed to be a big club.

    To win a trophy we need to compete with Utd & Chelsea’s MF. They would never leave themselves relying on one player like we have. It’s bordering on negligence

  2. Spanish, has Bischoff played yet for the Gunners? Diaby is was frustrating news. I hope the start of season goes okay.

  3. @ Panda Bear – Bischoff is still injured. He’s yet to play.

    @ si – I agree. A midfield player is absolutely necessary. I’m just saying that I can see where Wenger is coming from when he says he’s ‘too busy’ right now. After the FC Twente game they need to get things going again.

  4. @ si – Also, United are down to one/no options up front right now. Rooney out, Ronaldo out, Saha out and Tevez the only one left. Even he should be out after his incident against Pompey.

  5. Have you ever seen Bischoff play? I don’t think many have, so how can you class him as a great player?

  6. Spanish Fry – Yes, Utd are in trouble up front with three injuries. Imagine where we’d be if jUst Cesc did a hamstring, let alone have three CMF missing!!

    Plus they still have Giggs, Scholes or Nani to put behind Tevez.

  7. @ Gooni – Fair point. I don’t know how anyone can class him as a ‘great player’ yet. We’ll stick with ‘gamble’ for now. 🙂

    @ si – Again, fair point. I want a midfielder pretty badly as my article indicates. I do think it’s necessary.

  8. I agree with most of what you say, but to me both Djourou and Senderos impressed against Sevilla. You can´t really expect them to nullify the Sevilla attack on their own when we had a midfield who didn´t win more than a handful of tackles the whole game. The midfield partnership of Ramsey and Randall were out of their depth and in effect the defence basically had no cover and that to me just shows what a good game the cbs had.

    Both Djourou and Senderos showed surprisingly good anticipation to stop the Sevilla players from getting a free shot on goal and there were a number of last ditch tackles and clearances which have somewhat reassured me that at least one of them will be capable of stepping up if Gallas and Toure fail to live up to expectations.

    Otherwise yo made some good points and other than cm we have a strong squad IMO.

  9. @ Frank – I was impressed with both of them as well, for sure. For me they just don’t have that aura about them that they’re not going to be beaten though. Not that they should – they’re both very young and I think another stronger body could be brought in to cover for them while they continue to grow.

    As I said, Djourou in particular I like very much. Senderos is a confidence player and his confidence is too often negative.

  10. I don’t unerstand what some people are how can u tell me that Arsenal will not win aney silverware this season,o’ they will get more injary,on the other side they are young to chalenge title sut up ur big mouths.
    Arsenal is againt club who can do any thing other clubs can do they are more claver,talented brilliant beautyfull looking player worldwide wait and see as u dont expect other clubs to get injaries . But guys Arsenal can win even two to three titles this season

  11. I’m very disappointed that Arsene has waited so long to replace Flamini. Once he sold Gilberto I thought he surely had someone in mind but it appears that isn’t the case. And I’m far from convinced that Inler is the answer. Watching him in Serie A he looked Ok but not Arsenal quality, and it is a shame that we’re resorting to someone who is relatively inexperienced yet again, who will need time to settle etc. I really can see the benefit of having someone to step straight in at this point, and I think Cesc would like an experienced partner.

  12. i think we need Richards or Dunne = a strong defender. Um also XAbi Alonso/Inler/Barry/Gattuso. 2 midfielders. Cesc may get injured or suspended and so might Diaby so we left with Denilson and Ramsey so if we buy 2 experienced mids then we have good cover and ill be confident about the season.

  13. Definately need a solid defensive midfielder and another central defender.

    Arsene used the line ‘we’re a young team’ a lot last season, and what he did considering the age of his team was amazing. However, if for some reason this ‘young team’ doesn’t perform as well this season, you can bet your bottom dollar Fabregas will start to look elsewhere.

    With the average age of the team in the low 20s, we’ll have to wait like 5 or 6 years before any of them are experienced enough to be considered old. In the meantime we have the likes of Barca, Real, and other larger teams buying all our great players! Argh, Wenger should look for a good solid, experienced premier league player to harden up the defense. Micah Richards, Barry, or Alonso would be good choices.

  14. With the exception of Flamini and Hleb(who himself was confused about his role in the team), What our “all our great players” did the so called big teams buy from us that AW didn’t want to let go?!?!??!?!?!?!??

    Flamini didn’t and does not need to be replaced. He was a very pleasant suprise and that was that. He gazumped Diaby last season by chance.

    I wouldn’t want Cesc to get injured, but people are forgetting that Rosicky is a very able creative midfielder whose skill is definitely better that Fabregas, and runs very comparable to Cesc in other departments. Half our defense is made up of central midfielders with the exception of Gallas, Senderos and Clichy and Hoyte. I believe Sagna is capable of operating in central MF, and both Djourou, Song, Toure which means we have cover for 2 or 3 games if need be. I would throw in Eboue as cover in CM as technically he fits the bill perfectly(minus antics.

    Whoever comes in, if they come in at all, will not take part in August or September, and by then we will have Rosicky, Diaby and Amaury back in contention so I don’t see the need to panic.

    We both don’t get to see our players day in and day out in practice and what we see on matchdays is only one day out of seven, so if AW sees the team everyday and sees no reason to prioritize certain things, we can dream all we want but still that would not put us in a position to second guess him, we might disagree but not out of having a better solution than the coaching staff has.

    Let us just welcome the new season and stand behind our players because they need our support as a launchpad for great performances.

  15. By the way, I kinda like the new look of the official website. Gold on red was hard to read on a mobile device.

  16. TayGoon, i couldn’t agree any less with you. Wenger gets to see a lot that we don’t see on TV. i think we need an addition to our midfield but that addition won’t be an immediate solution to our MF, it is just to give us a better depth.
    i have a small issue with this talk about fabregas..someone talks about
    ‘…Cesc would like an experienced partner…’ and another one goes
    ‘…Imagine where we’d be if jUst Cesc did a hamstring…’ yet another one comments
    ‘…you can bet your bottom dollar Fabregas will start to look elsewhere.
    …’ these are just random comments that the fans make about their favourite player and they absolutely have all rights to do so. my only problem with the fabregas talk – especially if you read through other blogs – is that arsenal will soon become all about fabregas. why do people want to make him the god of arsenal? do you really want a player to become greater than the club? am not denying that he could easily be the best player that we have right now but it would not feel good to create an impression that what fabregas can do, no one else can coz trust me, what fabregas can do, a lot of other players probably could if they are given same chance.
    am sure a lot of you guys are cursing me for saying that but if fabregas is to become like C Ronaldo in Man U then i’ll be so pissed. did you see Man U play the community shield? without Ronaldo, they are just plain and ordinary!! my view of arsenal (and i really think i share this view with wenger at some level) is that it is a club that depends on team work and not superstars. it is a team that work like a family to deliver the best soccer on earth. every player has a role to play in arsenal and no player is bigger than the other one..they are all the same and we as fans should try to appreciate all our players instead of continuously hyping a single player and trying to mould a god out of him. please don’t make fabregas out cristiano ronaldo, or drogba. Cesc is a great player but it doesn’t make him larger than the club.
    on that note i would like to say that i appreciate the contributions that clichy, gallas, toure, sagna, ebuoe, fabregas, wallcot, van persie, adebayor, senderos, diaby, denilson, song, rosicky, eduardo, almunia, fabiansky and bentdner have made to arsenal in the recent past. you play great soccer and collectively you make the best team…

  17. I still think gibbs also needs a special mention as he was awesome and wilshere looked better than ramsey but it’s only pre season but I for one can’t wait for the cc this year but I would of liked to of seen more of that bratzere? as he’s supposed to be a great striker also.

  18. Am sorry if i maybe be sounding negative with just 3 days to beginning of season but i believe in objective and constructive analysis of my team.I have just been thinking:
    What scuppered our PL title ambitions, CL and FA cup hopes in the 2007/8 season?
    1. Lack of depth
    2. Lack of depth
    3. Lack of depth

    And what reasons (some bordering on the ridiculous) were given for our troubles?
    1. Most match officials were anti-arsenal
    2. Injuries at a critical time
    3. Our young team was still developing (we have heard this for close to 3 or 4 seasons)

    So then what has so drastically changed going into 2008/9 season?
    Not much at least from where I stand.
    Where is the evidence then that Arsenal is still interested in silverware and not just generating good returns for its owners. This depth thing may once again come back to haunt us…Feb/March 2009 will be a good time to revisit my comments and fears.I hope I wont have to.

  19. There are many positives from pre-season especially the form of vela and bendtner, they make a great partnership up top and would do damage in the premiership if needed. Vela is someone who can challenge for a first time place when he gets more familiar with our style which he has already done but the english league is much different and harder than the spanish, but he is someone to watch out for.

    Inler would make a great addition to the squad as he is very tenacious and would do well besides fab in the middle of the park. He wouldn’t cost much around 6-8 mill and would add much needed depth in the squad.

  20. Oh my God! fab is injured too and will miss twente game, we`ll be left with denilson and ramsey in the starting eleven, who doubts we need another cdm?

  21. AW does not want to rush in Cesc due to his fitness, preserving him for a crucial return leg. same for Kolo and Senderos. The squad going is more than enough to do the job.

    Not all our “injuries” are real. I sort of half-expected Kolo’s and Cesc’s “injuries” but not Senderos

  22. All the papers are going on about us playing our (kids) again but dijorou and denilson have 2 years experience in the pl and can beat this side and ramsey is new and it will be his 1st cl game and he will play his heart out so we should be able to beat them. I loved rvp’s quote on twente are like our version of spurs love it little dutchie have any spurs players had cl experience bar modric? He made a stupid move as he should of come to us and teamed up with dudu now he will be fighting to get into the top half of the league and they won’t be defending the cc with players like vela, wilshere, gibbs and randall playing in the cc.

  23. @ knightman – i see where you coming from with Cesc however Cesc is msot arsenals fan favourite player and they are worried that they might lose him if we do not win any silverware this season thats all.

    FC Twente tomorrow boys, who do you think will play, I want Aw to start Vela because he fits in with Arsenal straight away, I would like to see Nasri and Walcott on wings and Cesc in mid, Id also like to see Wilshere come on at some point.

  24. AW must sign a new mid now, Cesc out for 3 games including 2moras Twente game. Diaby out too. So is Senderos. Toure and Nasri are not playing against twente but should be against West Brom. Denilson and Ramsey to start in a crucial game, we need to sign at least 2 cms!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.