Tonight we hope that the yoof will do us proud in Athens. We can relax and just try and turn in a decent performance. It looks like the wonderfully named Tom Cruise will make his first team debut at left-back tonight. Good luck, old son. He’ll be joined by nine other Brits in the eighteen man squad. I’d guess Alex Song will again partner Mikaël Silvestre in central defence with Craig Eastmond taking Song’s holding midfield spot. Good luck to the lads tonight and the travelling contingent of the Gooner Nation out in Athens. Enjoy!
Fàbregas the King has blogged that we need to sign a tall forward in the January window. I can see his point and that of other Gooners that support this view, but I’d counsel caution. I think we need to see how Robin van Persie recovers from his injury and Nicklas Bendtner kicks on for the rest of the season after his return from the treatment room.
It is possible that Rockin’ Robin won’t see any more playing time this season. That would be typical of our luck. I’m still not completely convinced that Nicklas Bendtner is a long-term proposition for us either, although I think he’s a better player than many give him credit for, especially since he appears to have imposed an attitude adjustment on himself. We see a lot less of the Bertie Big Potatoes swaggering from him these days.
Of course if the right players become available at the right price, both in terms of fee and wages, in the January sales we should go shopping. What we don’t want to do is panic ourselves into buying for the sake of it. I think the priorities are a “dog of war” holding midfield player, a top-drawer goalie and another central defender.
If we’re planning to go shopping in the summer I hope we do it sooner rather than later. Prices of any player who has a good World Cup notoriously inflate. Clubs are aware of this and will probably be loath to sell pre South Africa. We should make an attempt however. The players will be back for pre-season training just before or just after the World Cup Final on 11 July next year. Those playing in the finals will need at least a four week break before training which means those players whose national teams reach the last four in South Africa won’t report back to their clubs until around 9 August when the new domestic season will be upon us.
In these times there’s just about no secrets left in terms of playing talent. Probably the only squad that hasn’t had the rule thoroughly run over them by international scouts is that of North Korea, although three of their squad play overseas in China, Russia and, bizarrely, South Korea. Ryan Nelsen the New Zealand international at Blackburn Rovers was picked up American talent scouts and offered a college scholarship over there before going professional with DC United and subsequently joining Blackburn Rovers. Arsčne and our scouts will be well aware of almost all of the talent that’ll feature in the World Cup. We should try and sign any that we’ve targeted before the tournament starts.
With the World Cup this summer one thing we really want to avoid is the play-off round of the Champions League. Our absolute minimum target in the League must be third. Players who’ve been to the World Cup notoriously start the following season slowly. Let’s try and avoid the burden of two Champions League play-off games so early in the season. I’m not being presumptuous or tempting fate by assuming we’ll finish in the qualifying positions, but we need to be ambitious. I think the current squad, even with all our injuries, is capable of finishing in the top three at least.
Keep the faith!