Soooo, plenty of big news from yesterday, starting with the confirmation of Flamini as a free transfer . he said he has unfinished business at The Arsenal, whilst Dortmund might be saying the same after we beat and drew with them a couple of seasons ago, and then got handed another date up against The Yellow Wall in the Champions League group stages.
Firstly, the Flamini stuff, because I’ve pretty much gone over it a few times on this blog. It’s a solid squad signing in my opinion. He’ll do well enough at the club and he’ll brig that extra bit of bite in our midfield. He’s also got really massive eyebrows which could certainly pass him off as some sort of semi-werewolf, so I’m hoping we see him scaring off midfielders and attackers alike over the course of this season. Maybe he could even give Shawcross a staring down when we visit the cavemen of Middle England? As I, and many of you have said, he needs to be just one of a few coming in over the next few days. Let’s all wait and see until we have our meltdowns though, eh? My timeline is so sensitive to any kind of fluctuation in transfer activity that I’m thinking of buying it some kind of treatment cream, such is the rash that seems to be developing on it.
I don’t think he’ll find a slot in the starting line up on Sunday, but we may see him make an introduction at some stage, hopefully when we’re a few goals to the good and he can give Lamela a tenacious little kick at his ankles with five minutes to go. We’d be 12-0 up of course and I’ll be sipping some of the amber nectar with a grin on my face (can’t get to the game because of family commitments 😒).
The main talking point from yesterday has to be the Champions League draw. I swear it gets longer every year and, if you’re relying on getting Michael Owen to add some panache to proceedings, you know it really is stretching the boundaries of what should be considered acceptable. So they dragged it out, dragged us out first, and proceeded to drag us all through the emotional mill that was the balls out of the bigger, clearer balls. Marseille was a pretty decent Pot 2 pick for us, for whilst they are still a good team, we should expect to be able to pick up points against them both home and away. Hell, maybe even Barton will have re-signed for them, giving Flamini a chance to reignite an old feud which dates back to an Arsenal vs Newcastle game a few seasons back when the oik from Liverpool played for Newcastle and the Flamster have him a little kick off the ball. See? There are always positives to be had in any signing!
If we were pleased with the Marseille pick, we’d clearly used up too much joy, because last seasons runners up Dortmund will be a very tough but to crack and most certainly were the hardest team to draw out of Pot 3. We beat them at home and drew away a couple of seasons ago, but they are a different proposition these days. They may have lost Goetze, but Lewandowski is still there and they’ve retained the vast bulk of their squad, with players like Reus, Bender and Gundogan all sure to show Arsene what he probably should have slapped £25mil down on this summer for. I wonder if it also smashes any realistic chances of picking up any of their players for our team now as well? Probably not, but who knows? Why would Dortmund strengthen a now rival in the competition?
The final name out of the pot was Napoli, which pretty much rounded off the whole ‘Group of Death’ element to our draw. We make life difficult enough for ourselves at the best of times, so the fact that UEFA are also giving it a go doesn’t exactly fill me with happiness! Much like Dortmund, Napoli were the one team everyone wanted to avoid out of Pot 4. That’s the Pot that you usually can’t pronounce the name of the team in it, so it’s bloody typical that we get the Italians.
The reality is however, that we have a good pedigree when it comes to getting out of the group stages, so we should fear nobody from that group. Two have to get through and if we do the job in our home matches then its a point or two for us to get through in the away ones. We may not get far beyond the group stages normally, but we do a pretty good job up until those knockout stages. It will also mean that qualification will surely give us an easier second round should we get through – it can’t be much harder than the group we’re in!
Oh, and there’s the small matter of Higuain rocking up at The Emirates as well!
Later today we’ll get Le Boss’ thoughts on an eventful draw and an all important North London Derby on Sunday. Most importantly, he’ll tell us a little bit more about who is fit and who isn’t, and whilst he’s already released a bit of info about the availability of Jack and Rambo, we’ve all been dealt a mammoth blow by the longer-than-anticipated injury to Podolski. It’s frustrating for everyone; the player had started back-to-back games and looked good for it, the manager had a man he could rely on as another striking option should Giroud need resting (and lets face it, right now it looks like with the lack of players we need as much versatility as possible), plus we all had another smiling hero to invest our hopes on. But such is our luck that his injury was worse than feared and we’ll not see him until November.
Arsene will know doubt be quizzed about transfers and of course provide absolutely no fresh insight whatsoever, but that doesn’t mean he won’t be asked, or that we know what he’ll say. We might even get treated to ‘what more do you want? A signing? I did that yesterday’, followed by a camp wave of the hands in the air and a mince out of the press office, Kenneth Williams style, but he will know that it won’t really wash with anybody. They will all be back on Sunday asking the same questions.
The hope is that we get something. A wry smile, a categorical denial of a players existence, or even an ‘not tellin’ from the Frenchman. Either way, we need something, and we need it quick. The deadline for registering players for this weekend is 12pm today, but to me that is an irrelevance, even if we signed a megastar. They would not be ready or prepared for how the team plays and so whoever comes in I expect them to at best make the bench if they are announced in time. But I don’t think we’ll see anything today. Maybe tomorrow, because we have a day off, but I suspect that if anything happens, we’re going to have to wait until the last minute on Monday to find out.
Catch you tomorrow.