Crisis? What crisis? After all the doom and gloom surrounding Arsenal, we’ve finally had a day with positive headlines for the fans to read. With some writing the club off before a ball had even been kicked in pre-season, some of that negativity can actually be put behind us as the Gunners kick off their friendlies this week.
In his first press conference as part of the Asia Tour, Arsene Wenger said that he expects both Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri to be at Arsenal for next season. Obviously that doesn’t necessarily mean that they will stay, because clubs chasing the players won’t give up, but it is pleasing to see Arsene Wenger being confident and defiant about keeping our best players. It would be all too easy for Wenger to just accept that Fabregas will finally go back to Barcelona and decide that it’s better to sell Nasri before he runs his contract down, however he knows as well as anyone that the Arsenal squad will be worse off without Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri.
Given how a large number of supporters had just accepted that Fabregas and Nasri would leave, if one of the two stayed, that would be considered a boost. However should Wenger’s defiance result in both pulling on the red and white shirt next season, optimism would increase massively amongst supporters. That piece of good news was then complimented by Arsene Wenger confirming that we’ve finally made a major signing.
As expected, Gervinho is now an Arsenal player. The transfer hasn’t officially been completed due to a ‘regulatory process’, however the Ivory Coast international will be at the Arsenal training ground this week whilst the formalities are finished. I haven’t seen much of the striker, but he had a good season in France last year, where he won the double with Lille. He isn’t going to be a big target man like Chamakh or Bendtner due to his stature, and with our current formation I think he’d be used primarily as a winger. It’ll increase competition in those positions with Walcott, Nasri and Arshavin, and mean those players will have to perform to keep their place in the side, and that can be no bad thing.
Gervinho might not be the marquee signing that fans have been hoping for, but he’s certainly a good player that could do well in the Premier League. If the Ivorian and Carl Jenkinson are the only players Arsenal sign this summer, then fans have every right to be frustrated at Arsene Wenger, however for the moment, Gervinho is a good start. Should more players with Premier League experience be added, the gloom around the club will gradually start to lift.
To add to the good news, it seems that players considered ‘deadwood’ by many fans are beginning to be cleared out. Manuel Almunia and Nicklas Bendtner weren’t part of the travelling party that boarded the plane for the Asia Tour, as both are in discussions with other clubs about leaving Arsenal. Almunia is reportedly going to return to Spain, whilst Bendtner could end up in Germany, Portugal or remain in England.
The Spanish goalkeeper has been far too error prone in recent seasons, with many questioning why he was ever number 1 in the first place. Having been overtaken in the goalkeeping pecking order by Lukasz Fabianski and Wojciech Szczesny, a move was always likely if a buyer could be found. Now that appears to have happened, I doubt there will be many fans shedding a tear over his departure.
The same can’t necessarily be said of Nicklas Bendtner. He’s always been a striker that has divided opinion with some fans still believing he could have been a good player for Arsenal. Personally I think he’s wasted too many big chances and isn’t reliable enough to lead the line for Arsenal. Given the right system to play in, Bendtner can be a success elsewhere, so I think for all involved it’s best for him to move on. Although they are strikers with different styles, it seems Gervinho will effectively replace Bendtner in the squad.
Whilst transfer dealings, or the lack of them, have been dominating stories about Arsenal recently, we’ll finally have the chance to forget those momentarily as the team will play their first game of pre-season on Wednesday. In the first leg of the Asia Tour, Arsenal face a Malaysia XI in Kuala Lumpur. It’ll be a chance to see Samir Nasri in an Arsenal shirt again, and see how youngsters Carl Jenkinson, Ryo Miyaichi and Emmanuel Frimpong perform when amongst the first team. Realistically, the match probably won’t tell us much we don’t know about the players, as the primary aim of it will be to gain match fitness. However it’ll just be refreshing to see the Arsenal on the pitch rather than in the papers.
Despite the sudden surge in positive stories for Arsenal fans, there is still a long summer ahead as clubs will continue to pursue Fabregas and Nasri, and other new signings need to be made. Although supporters can be reassured that things are beginning to happen both on and off the pitch with players coming in and out, and the first team squad kicking footballs again.
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