Arsene has taken 27 players to Austria. The complete list can be seen here. It’s interesting to note that only six youth players have made it to the camp. Eastmond, Lansbury, Nordveit, JET, Frimpong, and Henderson made the cut while the likes of Watt, Simpson, Barazite, and Miquel missed out.
It seems more and more likely that it’s the end of the road for Simpson and Barazite. I’m a bit surprised that Simpson hasn’t been given some more chances. Now that there are strong reports suggesting the departure of Eduardo (will cover that once it’s official) he would have been a handy player for some of the easier games. Anyway, as long as he is not sold or loaned out he can still be a part of the squad so let’s leave it at that.
On the whole, I think it’s a good group we have in Austria and if we add the missing regulars; Ramsey, Bendtner, Cesc, and Van Persie, it gives us a 30+ strong squad. Since many of them are U-21 we have no need to worry about the 25 player rule.
Over the next couple of weeks we should get a better idea about the defensive situation (CB & DM). It looks like Wenger will study the performances of Frimpong, Eastmond, Nordtveit, and the other kids before he decides on the need for further signings.
I can understand why he’d want to watch the youngsters first before making a decision. These kids grow really fast at this age and their development can be surprisingly quick as we saw last year when Wilshere came out of nowhere to shine in the pre-season. Personally, I hope we get at least one versatile defender even if he kids are doing well.
Amidst all this, we also have 4 keepers in the squad with the youngster Szczesny joining the usual suspects. I have a feeling Arsene has looked for a keeper but hasn’t found a deal that convinces him. From the fans’ point of view any deal for a new keeper is a good deal but the manager will definitely have to consider many aspects.
I guess pre-season is as important for Arsene as it is for the players. This is the time when he really needs to take some big decisions for the whole season (there are chances of correcting the mistakes in January but it could be too late by then). Regular readers will know that I’ve defended our keepers all season last year but I feel we need a new keeper just for the sake of confidence if nothing else. The flip side is that the confidence can vanish just as easily if the new guy takes time to adapt, or makes a few mistakes early on, or gets injured. Obviously, the issue is not as simple as signing one cheque.
While the key players are training in Austria the reserves/youth players have a few fixtures of their own. The first one was against Crawley Town XI and ended with the two teams sharing four goals. Arsenal went behind in the first minute from a corner (we’re the same all the way down 😀 ) but came back with two goals in the fourth and seventh minutes from the forgotten man Rhys Murphy. CT equalized early in the second half and the game ended in a 2-2 stalemate.
Arsenal started that game with,
Shea; Hoyte (c), Boateng, Miquel, Evina; Randall, Barazite, Ozyakup; Murphy, Simpson, Watt
Aneke, Afobe, Jernade Meade, and Martin Angha made substitute appearances later on.
I thought it was a strange collection. Some players who have been around for a while but haven’t really gone anywhere playing alongside some up and coming talents who will be looking to do better.
I’ve been a bit disappointed with the way our reserves play. We should expect more from them and if they are playing a Blue Square Conference side (four levels below the Premiership) they really should be doing better. I don’t want to comment on one game as I didn’t see it and don’t have any stats or reports to go by, but even in the past we’ve not done too well against smaller teams.
To me it’s a matter of how badly does a team want to win. Players who want to succeed at the top level need to be desperate to win even in relatively meaningless games. Sometimes I feel our reserves and youngsters take it all too easy.
In other news Van Persie has taken over the No. 10 Jersey and Vela gets 11. It will be good to see RvP as a number ten. He is much more than just a centre forward and if he can come anywhere close to the previous Dutchman who wore that shirt we will have a big, big season. And if Vela can match his goals scored tally with his shirt number I’ll be more than happy.
A nice game’s coming up tomorrow as Arsenal take on SK Sturm Graz. I think they are one of the stronger Austrian sides so it should be a tougher test than the one against Barnet. Hopefully, the ATVO service will not trouble me as much as it did for the last game. More on that after the game.