Perhaps some of our players are still in the wrong place, having witnessed our performances in the two most recent friendlies. We were less than impressive against Manchester City and Kitchee, especially defensively. I hope Arsene Wenger will address these problems, but he says we have three defenders waiting back in the UK. Those defenders are, of course, Per Metesacke, Laurent Koscielny and Bacari Sagna. Unfortunately, the latter is hardly raring to go due to his injuries. And we can only hope that Mertesacke and Koscielny get some playing time against Cologne in the last friendly before the season kicks off in earnest.
But even if we read too much into the pre-season friendlies, it wasn't all bad news. The website called Red London was particularly delighted that Johan Djourou was made skipper for the last match. The website pointed out that many Arsenal skippers head for the exit door shortly after claiming the armband. Personally, I want Djourou to stay. He's a good squad player with good technique, he's versatile and he has a good attitude. He still only 25 so hasn't reached his peak yet. I say we should keep him.
One player who everyone is raving about though is Thomas Eisfeld. I think some of the praises a little over the top, but you have to hand it to the kid: scoring two goals in two cameo appearances some achievement.
Other highlights include the performances of Chuks Aneke. I'm not sure he'll play in the Premier league next season, but I wouldn't be surprised if he makes the grade based on what I've seen.
Nico Yennaris also looked pretty solid and with Sagna likely to miss the start of the season, we need someone who can play right back. Craig Eastman played there and did okay, but I prefer him as a midfielder. Also I have a funny feeling the 21-year-old be loaned out again, whereas the 19-year-old Yennaris will probably stay put.
After the Kitchee game I felt relieved that Ignasi Miquel is heading to Brighton on loan. He made a horrendous mistakes against the Hong Kong side, and so need to build up some experience elsewhere. I still think he's a great prospect for the future though, so I'm not ready to take back everything I said!
Kyle Bartley didn't do too badly in the Far East, despite our defensive frailties so perhaps he will actually get some game time for Arsenal.
As we await new signings, some people are saying we already have a new left winger: Andre Santos. Arsene Wenger appears to be trying to do the same as what he did a few years ago with Emmanuel Eboue. Back then, Eboue was tried as a right winger in the pre-season. It made a lot of sense to me and it does again with Santos playing in front of Kieran Gibbs.
Gervinho showed what a real left winger can do that against Kitschee. He absolutely destroyed them. I'm not sure why in previous games Wenger tried Gervinho as a striker. Surely the boss realises that Gervinho lacks the killer touch in front of goal. Also, he risks alienating Theo Walcott, who wants to play as a striker. Instead, Wenger persists in trying Gervinho and Marouane Chamakh in Theo's rightful position. It's so frustrating to watch and, if Theo feels frustrated too, he may elect to run down his contract and leave for free next year. That would be a tragedy, in my opinion, especially if ended up back at Southampton, as one website suggested! Liverpool would appear a more likely destination, given Theo supported them as a kid. When I say "supported", I imagine he watched them on TV mostly, as Liverpool's a long trip from Southampton, but anyway I won't be surprised if he ends up at Anfield.
We're not really that well stocked in the winger department, as Ryo Miyaichi doesn't look quite ready to play first-team football for Arsenal yet, which is why we are still expecting Santi Cazorla's imminent arrival from Malaga. The Spanish club have to find some money from somewhere by the end of this month, so in theory we should be hours away from completing a deal.
If we need a winger we could even give Andrey Arshavin another chance to play wide, as Wenger said: "He could still have a future at the club." That's good news for me, as I'm a big fan of the meerkat! I'd hate to see him leave for Fulham with us just receiving £1 million of the transfer fee and having to cough up some of his wages. That would be an incredibly stupid transfer deal especially as Queens Park Rangers would pay is a lot more than Fulham, if their interest is genuine.
Three players will definitely be leaving it seems and those players are: Nicklas Bendtner, Sebastien Squillaci and Park Chu-Young. Wenger said enigmatically: "Bendtner, Squillaci and Park will be on their way to go somewhere." Once some money comes in for those players, it may make it easier for us to bring in some new ones. Lukas Podolski might end up taking one of their squad numbers rather than Robin van Persie's, who might need to change his name to Robin van 'Purse' if he gets £220,000 per week by joining Manchester United for £30 million. Apparently, Robin wants parity with Wayne Rooney. I can't see it happening myself, but I can see is doing a deal on transfer deadline day with Manchester City, as they have a lot of strikers they want to offload plus Kolo Toure. Before you say "No way can happen", think about what happened with Ashley Cole. We signed William Gallas in part-exchange, remember?
Other players we are even more unlikely to bring to the club include: Celtic's Kenya international Victor Wanyama of Celtic, who will cost between £7 million and £10 million, when he signs for either Manchester United, Queens Park Rangers, Stoke City, Liverpool, Newcastle or Arsenal; Brescia's Morocco international striker Omar El Kaddouri, who will cost €5 million and is more likely to go to Parma anyway; Marseilles' Ghana international winger Andre Ayew, who has an €18 million release clause; and troubled France international defender Mamadou Sakho, who seems incredibly unlikely to leave Paris St Germain.
One deal that may have an element of truth about it is the story surrounding Real Madrid's 23-year-old Turkey international midfielder Nuri Sahin. Apparently, we could bring him in on the year's loan. Now that would be nice! Not necessarily for Podolsky though, who has a bit of "previous" with Sahin. All is forgiven now, apparently, so there are no real worries in that respect. I feel more worried that Sahin will end up playing for Tottenham, especially if he is offered in part exchange for Luka Modric, who seems destined for the Bernabeu.
Meanwhile, we hear Benik Afobe is off to Bolton Wanderers on a loan deal. Perhaps Ryo will join him. I don't think a spell in the Championship will hurt either player, it should toughen them up.
Until the next time, up the Gooners!