The DeJa Vu blog

Hello there again. How do?

It feels like I’ve written this blog before. You know, the one where I talk about the irrelevance of ‘pundits’ opinions like Phil Thompson or Gary Neville (although the latter certainly offers something by the way of actual insight, instead of baseless opinions without any real solid evidence to back it up), the players that are feeling and sounding positive (Szczesny and Arteta this time on the official site), as well as the odd bit of transfer tittle-tattle too (rumours of Greek defender Manolas were rife lat night). It’s all very DeJa Vuey.

Of course, the scrips has been rehashed a bit and it’s different people saying a variation on something similar, but I guess that’s what you get at this time of year. As the anticipation ahead of the new season starts, there are plenty of clicks and hits to be gained from media outlets, so they do all in their power to sup at the speculation and opinion well before it runs dry and is replaced by the actual football that takes place.

It’s funny actually, because I find myself the complete inverse to these media outlets: I start off the summer quite happy to read the odd speculative story, but by the time we get to mid August I just want them to disappear like a Big Brother contestant after the competition has ended. I’m ready for the football now and counting down the days until, at the very least, I get to write a match preview.

As for the speculation itself, with Kostas Manolas left out of Olympiakos’ game yesterday against Wigan (I think it was Wigan but am happy to be corrected), the airwaves began to a’tremble and assumptions began to be made that Arsenal are after the young Greek international. I am certainly no scouting expert and as El Hadji Diouf proved, the World Cup is hardly a blueprint for finding the world’s best players regardless of what form they’ve shown in the competition, but with nothing else to go on with the player it’s my only reference.

At 23 years old and with a pretty solid World Cup behind him, if Arsenal really after him, then it wouldn’t be the worst move in the world. I don’t know many Greeks that travel well in footballing terms, but with Per and Kos ahead of him in the pecking order, it would keep the pressure slightly off him to hit the ground running if he did sign this season. If you think about how Per was thrown in at the deep end and discarded as a flop because of his lack of pace in his first season, it gives me a bit of comfort to know that a player coming in will have that bit of reduced pressure on his shoulders.

If the sums are to be believed as well – that Olympiakos are looking for around £9million for him, then it would effectively almost be cost neutral, as Vermaelen joined Barca for £8million plus add ons. Of course, a price tag is no guarantee of quality, but from the World Cup showings I saw, he looked like a good player and I actually thought he was older than he is at the World Cup. I guess that could potentially show a maturity to his game that would be welcome at The Arsenal.

Did you watch the Super Cup last night? I caught the first half and I must say the attacking options of Real Madrid looked scary. I don’t know whether Ancelotti plans on running with an eight man attack, but he has quality busting out of every corner of that team and it must be a tough time being a Barca or Atletico Madrid fan right now, because they will surely be favourites. Of course with Khedira not even making the squad there were rumours abound that this was to facilitate a transfer, but I believe there’s truth in Arsene’s words and that we’re not after him. I don’t know if we were, but the most pressing need has to be a centre half right now and so if the club are putting all their attentions into that, then I’m fine with it.

The squad is looking good in my opinion and after a brief Twitter exchange with some friends last night about how the defence cost us the league last season (I vehemently disagreed with that), I think another central defender would see us in good shape for the next nine months of football. I think what cost us the league last season was our lack of pace in the final third when key players went missing. Games against Swansea, Stoke and Everton in the latter stages of the season saw us slow and lethargic and it allowed opponents to play high lines and press very closely from the front. If you add pace into those game where we were woefully exposed, those teams naturally wouldn’t play such high lines, which would in effect, give space for midfield players to assert more dominance to a game and also reduce the burden on our back line. Simples.

That’s all I gots for you today. Probably won’t be a blog tomorrow as I might not have time, but will certainly see if Steve can pull his finger out of an orifice and write something.

See thee on Friday.

Signed Theo Walcott Canvas in Willow Charity Auction

Hi all,

I don’t normally do this sort of thing – two blogs in a day!!! – but this is for a good cause and so I thought it’s worth drawing to your attention. Below is an overview of a great auction that is taking place between 4th to 14th September to raise money for the Willow Foundation.

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Best of British sporting heroes captured on canvas
The biggest sporting moments from the best of British, including Theo Walcott, have been immortalised on canvas and will be auctioned from September 4 to 14 for Willow – the only national charity working with seriously ill young adults aged 16 to 40 to fulfil uplifting and unforgettable Special Days.  The artworks will be on show at a public exhibition, September 9 & 10 at Bonhams, London W1.

Britain’s top sporting heroes Mo Farah; Lewis Hamilton; AP McCoy; Theo Walcott; Steven Gerrard; Wayne Rooney; Andy Murray; Sir Bradley Wiggins; Sir Ben Ainslie; Ian Poulter; Justin Rose; Hannah Cockroft and Christine Ohuruogu have all taken part in Sportwaves.  The stunning collection depicts a fine art portrait of the sportsman in action, combined with a digital soundwave of the moment captured.

Each original artwork has been signed by the sporting great and will be available to view at the public exhibition, and to bid for online in the charity auction.  Artwork is available to view now at http://www.sportwaves.org

Each piece has been created by artist Rob Highton, whose stunning work includes paintings of sporting heroes, music and popular culture, and Tim Wakefield, a new media artist whose work features the exuberant infusion of digital sound waves with paintings.

“The combination of fine art and high profile sporting heroes is an exciting match for any sport or art lover.  The Sportwaves collection captures special moments in sporting history.  Funds raised at auction will enable Willow to provide its own special moments for those living with life threatening conditions at a time when they need it most,” said Bob Wilson, Willow co-founder and Life President.

To date Willow has provided more than 10,000 Special Days for people living with cancer, cystic fibrosis, motor neurone disease, muscular dystrophy, organ failure and Huntington’s, amongst other conditions.  These Special Days enable them and their families to reconnect and refocus on each other while enjoying an activity of their choosing. A day for them, a day about them and a day that will create memories they will treasure forever.

Willow was founded by former Arsenal goalkeeper and TV presenter, Bob Wilson and his wife, Megs, as a lasting memorial to their daughter, Anna, who died of cancer aged 31.

For more information about Willow visit http://www.willowfoundation.org.uk or telephone 01707 259777.

The excitement of a new season builds

Morning you lot, hope it’s a good one for you, as we count down until kick off on Saturday.

I don’t know about you, but I’m more excitable than John Terry at a WAG birthday party, when all his fellow team mates are at football training. This season has seen a good summer of business, some good results for us to raise excitement further – the Community Shield being the first case in point – and Le Boss still tantalising us with comments that he’s still on the look out for those finishing touches on his squad to make it complete.

I went to my first Arsenal game aged eight and even to this day the sheer excitement at going is matched even now I’m a thirty something with a season ticket. The butterflies, the clock watching until Saturday early evening, the anticipation as to what team Arsene will choose to swipe aside Tony Pulis’ Palace, it’s all there and it’s all waiting for you and I. Roll on I say, roll on.

I guess the only element of the beginning of the season that is always a bit ‘meh’ is the whole ‘get a former player to come out and predict the league table’ bumf. It’s an irrelevance designed simply to wind up fans unless you’re a bookies favourite, but even back in the days when we were favourites, I didn’t want us to be, lest the football karma gods saw fit to conspire against us in not winning the league. I always preferred it when we’d come from nowhere to sneak up and win the title. Like in 98, when we looked pretty gone after a defeat to Blackburn (my memory deceives me as to whether it was home or away – I think away) and were written off, only to pull out one of the best runs of victory I’ve seen from an Arsenal side.

Last season we were the front runners for most part of the campaign, only to be pegged back in the last two months due to injury and fatigue, so I’d be quite happy for us to do the reverse this season. If there are any footballing karma gods listening, or even some kind of Leprechaun on holiday that wants to do a bit of granting, I’ll happily abide with this request.

Ol’ Ray Parlour’s had his say on the title race, thinking that we’ll be fourth behind the two oil whore clubs and Manchester United, which I find very interesting. I mean, I get the excitement over the Van Gaal appointment and I understand that he’ll be a cut above David Moyes, but is he not still working with the same players that finished seventh last year? I know they’ll be more heavily motivated than last year, dressing room harmony may be better and he can get that extra xx% from them, but for a few years we’ve been told that this squad is ageing and ailing somewhat and I haven’t seen any superstar signings to suggest to me that they will be an all conquering team for the league.

Who knows, maybe they’ll have the Liverpool factor from last season, profiting from the lack of Champions League football by being fresher for other games. We’ll see.

But anyway, back to The Arsenal and our excitement for this season, which I think is totally warranted if you look at the polar opposite of the beginning of last season. A shambles in the transfer market, fans in-fighting more than ever before through social media channels, as well as a general malaise as our neighbours were spending a fair wedge on signing all the available players in the known universe. I think back to the predictions of pundits that there would be a Spuds assault on the title and an Arsenal fall from top four grace like never before, and I am immediately comforted by predictions that Arsenal won’t make the top four from boredom merchants like Michael Owen. Chirp away my friend, chirp away, because we’ve seen it all before you see. Us Arsenal fans, we’re kind of used to it you see, we know what we’ll get from ‘expert pundits'; who are essentially ex professionals that have donned a suit and are now pretending to know something about the game. Just because you played it guys, doesn’t mean you’re best qualified to try and articulate it’s intricacies and tactical nuances of modern day football. Nor, might I hasten to add am I, but I’m just a fan blogger and not somebody trying to earn a buck by getting my opinion heard of TV. Messieurs Alan Shearer, Steve McManaman, Robbie Savage and Garth Crooks take note please.

But again, back to The Arsenal, and the excitement. Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud are playing with our heart strings and talking up our title challenge this season, aren’t they? Both have spoken about the harmony in the group – which feels like something forged from last summer – and how all of the players are close, with the necessary additions to add depth to the team. Yes, we need a little more to add to the squad – a couple more cookies to make the biscuit tin all full and yummy looking (no coconut please) – but the nuts and bolts of a league challenging side is there.

What I find interesting (and enjoyable) is the talk amongst us Gooners as title contenders. Last season we were just hopeful of being in it until the turn of the year, but there wasn’t really the expectation that we can win it. Now, along with some of the players, there feels like the expectation is there. It ‘feels’ like last season was a build up to the crescendo that is 2014/15. I don’t know about you, but I ‘feel’ like we’re ready for that league title. Much like Moneychester City did when they won the FA Cup in 2011 (I think), it feels to me like we’ve wrestled with the ‘no trophy’ demon and now we’re ready for the glory.

I certainly hope so.

See thee tomorrow. Or on Twitter or something.

So many positives, even if it’s a friendly

There have been many days over the years that it has felt slightly painful to be waking up as a Gooner. Some of the stinging defeats to the bigger teams last season smarted a bit.

Today is not one of them.

Today is a day in which you and I get to smile at the fact we swept aside the Champions, whilst at the same time, feel nothing but incredible excitement at the prospect of this upcoming season.

Yes, the Community Shield is nothing but a glorified friendly with a piece of silver at the end for the winner, but as a radio presenter remarked last night as I was basting my roast beef (no, that is not a euphemism!) they made a remark that nobody can contest: it’s better to start your season with the confidence of having won it than not.

You can’t say the team will lack any confidence after that performance.

They may well have been mitigating circumstances – as a BT Sport were at pains to point out throughout the game – with the number of absences that Momeychester City had, but don’t let anybody tell you that Pellegrini wasn’t fussed about winning the thing or not. When you reach the top of any sporting profession, you do so because you have the desire and drive to be successful at everything to put your hand to, so Pellegrini would have prepared his charges in the same way they will prepare to face Newcastle next weekend.

As for the absences, of course City will be stronger, but very little seemed to be mentioned in the commentary that I watched about the fact that Arsenal had Mertesacker, Özil, Podolski and Walcott out, whilst Giroud was clearly still not fit. But perhaps that’s because everyone is used to seeing Arsenal depleted by injuries. Moneychester City fans had better hope they don’t fall foul of a similar fate this season (although I acknowledge that there is an argument that we won’t fall foul as badly if Arsene rotates a bit more than usual, so we can keep players fresher throughout the season, less susceptible to injury), because based on the performance yesterday they are as reliant on their ‘big’ players as any team in the division.

As for the game itself, well, that was as perfect a blueprint that you’d want to see for any start to the season. From kick off it was obvious we were better prepared than the Citizens and more composed on the ball. We dominated the opening 15 minutes, then 30, then right up until halftime. When we conceded possession I was really pleased to see us win the ball higher up the field, which alleviated any pressure on the defence and meant we could turn defence into attack quite rapidly.

And we were rapid, weren’t we? Sanchez has that element of trickery about him that reminds me a little of Rosicky, but he’s got bags of pace about him and looked to be a real handful for the City defence. There will still be questions as to his best position as he finds his way into the team, but you can tell he’s going to be a great asset. What I really loved in the first half was seeing him race through one-on-one against Caballero, because Theo aside, we haven’t had another player able to do that on a frequent basis since Thierry. So when Mesut Özil is fit and fully integrated into the first team, I’m quite excited about the prospect of a few searching balls in between defence and goalkeeper, from the German to the Chilean.

There were so many positives from yesterday’s game. Just look at the opening scorer. With all the furore around the new signings over the last two summers, little Santi Cazorla – our player of the season two years ago – has almost taken a bit of a back seat in the limelight of the team. He also looked terribly unfit at last weeks Emirates Cup. Yet yesterday I thought he looked a bit more like his old self, keeping hold to the ball, being involved in the build up to chances and with his goal came a classic Santi feint before tucking the ball away with his left foot. There are so many good players at our club these days and Santi is a prime example of a player that might find his game time a wee bit more limited over the course of the season, but nobody should be under any illusion on how important his role in the team will be.

I loved how Jack was getting into spaces in between the City defence and midfield time and time again. He looked up for it yesterday and as Arsene has already said, this is the first time in a few summers that he’s had a full pre season under his belt. Again, he’s another one that we can rightly expect big things for this season and regardless of what Mr Adams says, he will kick on and show his value I’m sure.

Goal number two’s recipient had an element of inevitability about it, didn’t it? Aaron Ramsey stepped up and slotted a great ball home after the impressive Sanogo had held up the ball and fed him in. A quick aside for Sanogo – I get the feeling he’ll be in the similar mould to Giroud, in that he won’t be the scorer of as many goals, but he will bring others into play and be very useful indeed. Aaron’s finish was what we’ve come to expect from him and there is certainly confidence amongst Gooners everywhere that last season was not a one off but the norm now with the Welshman. What was so clever about that finish was actually the touch just before the goal. It was a kind of little mini chip into his own path so that he could hit the ball on the half volley. That’s the sign of a player that is not only full of confidence, but full of ability too, and I hope we can see more of that next weekend and throughout the season.

Defensively there were plus points too. Debuchy looked like he’d been in that right back slot for years and Calum Chamber has the assured composure of a 29-year-old, not one ten years younger. Arsene remarked after the game that he’ll try to bring in someone for Vermaelen as cover in central defence, but if Chambers has more displays like that, then he’ll rightly find it hard. There was one moment in the game where Jovetic was gifted the ball from Chambers and looked to be through on goal, but the lads recovery pace looks to be pretty decent and he was quite rapid in retrieving it from his opponent.

Again, all this positivity and I haven’t even mentioned the good performances of Gibbs or Arteta, or the few commanding catches Szczseny made in his own box. And I haven’t even mentioned the stunning finish of Giroud, who sheepishly took the man of the match performance much to the surprise of most people I think, because he was quite in the most part. Olivier hasn’t exactly become know for his long range radar and there was a couple of occasions last season where we could have done with a pearler like that (Everton in the last minute where he hit the bar springs to mind), but if we see a few of those this season there should be few that argue he hasn’t upped his game in the face of more competition for his place.

It augurs well for what will be a very different game next weekend against Palace. Pulis will attempt to borify the world with stifling tactics and reduction in space in the final third for Arsenal, so we shouldn’t use this game as the benchmark for a season of clean sheets and large scores. Next weekend I’d take any form of win no matter how ugly.

So enjoy the day today, enjoy the fact that pre season appears to be going as we’d hoped, but temper it with an understanding that the real stuff starts at 5.30pm next Saturday.

Peace out

Vermaelen legacy in tact, as we prepare for excitement of new season

Before I delve into the thoughts of what may transpire come 3pm later at Wembley, there’s the small matter of the confirmation that our Captain Thomas Vermaelen, has departed our rainy shores for the sun of Catalonia. Last night Arsenal confirmed his move to Barcelona and Vermaelen was pictured outside the Nou Camp with the obligatory ‘thumbs up’ standing next to the ‘Mes que un club’ sign.

I said as much on Twitter last night, but let’s be honest about this folks, losing this captain doesn’t feel half as bad as losing the last two. Plus, we get the added bonus of all still getting to like him and wish him well on other shores, for this was the best possible scenario for all stakeholders involved in this transfer.

For Vermaelen, he gets an opportunity to get more game time at a big club, where hopefully he’ll be challenging for trophies. It was clear he is at an age where he needed to play (as Arsene said) and he is good enough to be a first team regular. I’m still not sure whether that will still be Barcelona – they’ve just spent a wedge on another centre half from Valcencia, plus they have Pique, so whether he plays all the time I’m not sure – but I think given their likelihood to rotate a bit more than ours, it’s a decent move for him.

It’s a decent move for us fans as well. It’s blatantly obvious that United were sniffing around him and, whilst Vermaelen may still come back in a Champions League encounter to haunt us, at least we know he won’t be on our screens on Match of The Day, or rocking up at The Emirates twice a season (minimum) in the league. We get to give him our blessing and say “thanks for the memories and good luck”.

For the club it is good because they have given themselves enough time to find a replacement, but the fact that they’ve got £15million for a player that hasn’t played much in the last 18 months and has just a year left to run on his contract is an absolutely brilliant piece of business. Arsene can have a root around for a good centre half now to challenge Per and Kos (like he has in Ospina for Szczesny) and with Chambers as another option we can hopefully have a bit more depth in an area that has worried us for most of last season.

Yep, this was good all round, which hopefully is what we feel come 5pm this afternoon when the Community Shield draws to a close.

We all know it’s a friendly and it doesn’t really mean that much in the grand scheme of things, but it would still be nice to get one over on the Petro dollars, wouldn’t it? The papers have tried to spice things up by making comments designed to instigate outrage from Arsenal fans from a certain non-World Cup going football mercenary (who admitted money played a factor in his decision to leave Arsenal in that interview), but having read through the comments myself, it’s hardly a direct kick in our faces, so I’m a little bit ‘meh’ about it all if I’m honest. Nasri gave Arsenal a decent six months and then moved on for more cash and that’s pretty much all I can be bothered to say about that. It doesn’t really matter what anybody states about how Arsenal won’t be the main threat this year, because people said the same thing last year and we proved most people wrong by and large.

The line ups today will be intriguing. Pellegrini has already said that a host of City players (Company, Zabaleta, Sagna, Lampard, Aguero) will be missing today, so it will be interesting to see what a City side that is ravaged by injuries similar to what we’ve had in recent seasons, would look like. With Boyata and Nastastic at the heart of the defence they have some power and a bit of pace, but City aren’t I callable and I hope that we can through a few curveballs their way today.

As for us, Arsene has already given us a warning that the team aren’t 100% ready yet, which is why Olivier Giroud may not get a starting berth up top and in centre half Chambers might be thrown in at the deep end, but given the depth of squad we have this season, I’d still expect a strong line up to give Moneychester Citeh a run for their money. Szczseny in goal behind a back four of Debuchy, Chambers, Koscienly and Gibbs looks solid enough and with Flamini, Arteta and Ramsey all players that haven’t partaken in the World Cup you’d expect two of that three to be fresh enough and fit enough to start. I’d expect to see Santi Cazorla – slight chunkiness from the Emirates Cup aside – to play in the Mesut Özil free role, sitting behind a front three that should include Alexis Sanchez up top I think. Unless of course Arsene opts for a target man in Sanogo and Alexis/Campbell to play just off four-goal Yaya. If Sanogo is as impressive as he was last weekend, we can certainly expect the pace either side of him to profit from his hold up play.

What am I saying?! There isn’t even a place for The Ox?? He could start in the central midfield role or out wide with Alexis moving to centre forward too. He’s looked impressive in pre-season and I think he’s due a good one in 2024/15, so it’s certainly feasible that he’ll get the nod this afternoon. I also haven’t mentioned Rosicky, who Arsene loves and whose energy is always important in dictating the tempo of games.

The very fact that we have so many options, not to mention with the Germans still missing from it as well as Theo we have more options, fills me with so much excitement I want to run screaming with joy down my street in the rain. And I hate the rain.

This afternoon can be shrugged off or used as a confidence booster ahead of Palace next weekend, but whatever the result, I’m starting to get really excited for this season.

Come on you reds!

Hoping Arsene spends decently again, with a trip to Turkey on the horizon

So it seems the lumbering juggernaught of a story for our captain to be departing the Arsenal team, is finally chugging to it’s inevitable conclusion, as multiple outlets are reporting that Barcelona are set to announce his arrival over the weekend at some stage. I’ll hold fire from writing his Arsenal football career obituary just yet, but a £15million fee coupled with a move abroad will certainly ensure any return to the Emirates in future is a well received one.

It does mean Arsene has to go hunting for another centre half and, let’s all be honest here, we’re hoping his new found penchant for splurging would be a much welcome scenario in comparison to the penny-pinching years that saw the woeful likes of Squillaci and Silvestre darken our doors.

With cash to spend as a result of our own self-imposed financial restraints, coupled with the new TV and sponsorship money the club has received, one would hope that we are looking to bring in a decent centre half that can realistically challenge Big Per and Kos. We have the money. Hell, WEST HAM have the money right now, having spunked £15million on a centre forward, so we should have no problems finding the cash for a decent £10-£15million central defender.

The challenge will be to get them up to speed. If we’re making the assumption that the player is probably going to come from abroad (I think Arsene has had enough of the English premium with Chambers for one season, personally) , then usually it takes overseas players a season to adapt. However, if the replacement comes in as a bridesmaid instead of a bride, then it will probably take them even longer. Would Big Per be the player he is if he didn’t play as many games in his first season? And even he made mistakes. As did Koscienly. Ironically enough, it was Vermaelen who was a natural fit from day one, so perhaps Arsene needs to find the closest thing to a clone that he can get his hands on.

Anyway, enough of the speculative, how about the factual? Besiktas in the Champions League, eh? That’s an interesting one. Not ideal if you think of the travelling time and the environment, but I think I said – either on Twitter or on here – that I didn’t really have any fear of any bogey team like I have done in the past. Perhaps that’s because The Arsenal are now seasoned pros at this stage of the competition, or perhaps it’s because we’ve already been drawn against some of the toughest teams in the qualifying stages over the years, but I had no real concern who we were drawn against yesterday.

Besiktas finished quite some way off a Fenerbahce team we dispatched – this time last year – in their domestic league, so whilst there will be threats with a player like Demba Ba in their team, I would expect we should have enough to progress. We still have to do the business mind, but at this moment in time I’m a happy gooner with that draw.

Laters potatoes.

Curtain raiser for Chambers, Champions League awaits

A big, hairy, stinking, ‘bleurgh’ this morning. That’s what I’m starting with. And the blame of that ‘bleurgh’ is aimed squarely at the feet of the rail replacement bus service that swings by my house at 5.42 in the morning. It was said offended that woke me up, which in turn woke my bowels up, which has led to me beginning my journey into the smog this morning at 6.15. Tis’ no decent time for a man to be roused from his slumber I can tell thee.

And the biggest irony? That same service is the one I have to get this morning, as I have all week. Someone upstairs is chuckling away at my expense I reckon.

Anyway, enough of personal traumas, let’s move on to collective happiness. Which means all things Arsenal and the fast approaching ‘curtain raiser’ Community Shield match against Momeychester City. We’ll even be reunited with an old friend, in the form of Bacary Sagna, who’ll be able to exchange his views of the world with Arsene from the touchline on Saturday. I know, I know, that probably won’t happen due to Zabaleta’s part in the World Cup final and probably a similar programme to our Germans, who Arsene confirmed in his presser yesterday, won’t take any part.

It leaves an interesting dilemma for Le Boss as to who will partner Koscienly at the back for the game actually, as the absence of Mertesacker and almost inevitable departure of Vermaelen (who Arsene confirmed yesterday we had received bids for and if he wanted to leave he was allowed), means we are somewhat ‘light’ in that department, shall we say?

The obvious candidate appears to be the new arrival Chambers and, although there is a shield up for grabs, let’s all not forget that this is ultimately a friendly. The very fact that Arsene spent a wee but of time championing his young charge (albeit somewhat surprisingly insistent that he will be a defensive midfielder eventually) and his ability to integrate into the team now, would suggest that he will get the nod, certainly you would have thought above Monreal and Miquel. It will be a good opportunity for Chambers to once again prove his credentials as a lad who will be looking to hit the 20 appearance mark come the end of the season, but more importantly it will be interesting to see how he lines up against a quality attack like Citeh’s. I don’t think it’s too unfair to suggest that playing at the heart of the defence is a little bit less forgiving than as a full back, so Calum will be exposed and it will be a good barometer of how much depth we have at centre-half if he comes through relatively unblemished.

Hey, as long as he gives no-neck Nasri a bit of a kicking, he’ll be roared on by us lot and given a heroes cheer.

Arsene also spoke about the unlikeliness of a Khedira transfer to Arsenal. Whilst I’d have been happy with his arrival (who wouldn’t?), I can kind of understand why he wouldn’t be the right choice and if this Carvalho is as much of a brute as some of the YouTube scouts out there make out, he could be a bit more of what we’re looking for. We’ve got enough creative attacking talent in the squad to get us the goals, it’s the more defensive minded players that get a nosebleed when they venture over the halfway line, that I want to see

I still maintain that I don’t think we’ll see any more incomings – obviously if Vermaelen leaves I think we’ll replace though – but I suspect Arsene is still happy enough with his squad and will only move if he hears of somebody falling in his lap.

It’s the Champions League draw today and I don’t know if this is dangerous thinking, but after the FA Cup success and a decent summer of transfer activity so far, I’m really not concerned who we’ll get. We know it will be one of Bilbao, Copenhagen, Besiktas, Lille or Standard Liege. Lille would probably be the most tricky of opponents, but with the players we have in our squad you’d expect us to overcome any of those teams over two legs. We still have to go out there and do the business – of that there is no doubt – but we should have a full compliment of players by the time the first leg comes around, so I’d be hopeful of victory. And hey, we always seem to get the toughest unseeded teams in the competition, so I’m expecting a trip to France for our lads in August.

Lastly but not leastly, it seems as though Members Day yesterday was well received by all involved, which is great to hear. It’s a great opportunity for some of the younger kids to go along and see the players, particularly when many of them won’t be able to go to matches themselves, so you have to applaud the club for putting on an event like this. It does take time, planning and effort to do these sort of things, so we should all be thankful that the club does go that extra mile when it comes to giving fans the opportunity to watch and meet the stars of the upcoming season.

That’s all I gots for today. You have a marvellous one.