Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Pointless internationals, Keepers' make demands, and Highbury House Merry-go-round

Morning Gooners.

The midweek international friendlies take place today. Arsenal have ten players involved in these meaningless fixtures, crazily played days away from the start of our domestic campaign.

There is a full list of the players we'll be worrying come through these games without injuries. Emmanuel Eboue played 90 minutes for the Ivory Coast in their 1-0 win over Italy last night. Kolo Toure scored the only goal in the game played at Upton Park.

Henri Lansbury played the final half hour for the Endland under 21 team which beat Uzbekistan 2-0.

And on to what's going on today.

The major story breaking overnight was the news that Mark Schwarzer has handed in a transfer request at Fulham according to The Sun.

They say he wants to force a move through to Arsenal.

It's obvious we're in the market for a new goalkeeper. I imagine this story will run until the closing of the transfer window as it's clear that Fulham want to keep him.

But as a player, you would question their ambition if they didn't seriously consider moving when a club like Arsenal came in for them. He'll get to play Champions League football, which he's never had chance to do before, testing himself against some of the best players in Europe.

I can't see this one going through any time soon though.

Further to Arsene Wenger's comments yesterday about Arsenal being closer to winning the title, today it's reported he's envisaging one of the tightest title races in recent history.

Few teams have spent serious money in this window apart from Manchester City. So you'd expect all the teams who were up there last  season to be in the mix again this time round.

That'll mean we'll be fighting it out with Chelsea, Manchester United, Tottenham, Manchester City, Liverpool, Aston Villa and Everton.

The manager said:
"You expect Manchester City, who invest a huge amount of money, to be one of the contenders as well," said the Frenchman.
"Tottenham [can challenge] if they can confirm what they produced last year, Aston Villa as well. You could have six or seven teams because Everton for me has a strong squad too.
"What changed in England last year is that everybody could drop points, it was the first season that really happened. So it will be more open this year."

Manchester City will be stronger, there is no doubt about that, if they can get a team cohesion going at Eastlands. I'm sure we'll be challenging for the title, more competitively then we ever had before.

One man who wants to cement his position in Arsene Wenger's starting 11 is Lukasz Fabianski.

The goalkeeper has had a mixed pre-season. Good early performances, with little to do, then came the game against Legia Warsaw which showed us all again why we need a new keeper.

I think Arsene Wenger has shown faith in him at the start of pre-season for two reasons. One to make Manuel Almunia shake away his complacency and the other to show that Fabianski can be our number one.
But it's a big season for the Pole.

He said
"I hope it will be a breakthrough season for me.
"I have a double task. I want to become the No1 in the Arsenal goal and that would help me to realise my second target - to be No1 in the national team.
"Of course I don't know if I will play but I do believe I will as I played in many of the pre-season friendlies.
"I am 25 years old, it is a good time to establish myself in goal for good."
"It was the same when I started at Legia Warsaw.
"Nobody knew me, there were arguments that I was not good enough to be No1 but I got that and moved to one of the biggest clubs in the world.
"I am ready for the next challenge. I've had no injuries recently, I've worked well and am really prepared to fight for the No1 position.
"I believe I am good enough to play regularly in a Premier League team."
Perhaps a season out on loan with another Premier League team would be better for him than being under the spot light at Arsenal this season. Sunderland are looking for a keeper. Could Fabianski be their man? And if the Pole did leave on a season long loan, Schwarzer signs, then either Mannone or Szczesny go on loan as well.

Almunia and Schwarzer fight for the number one spot with Mannone or Szczesny third choice.

Nacer Barazite played for Glasgow Rangers in their friendly against Glentoran. Barazite is on trial with the Scottish outfit - whether this is a trial for a potential loan or permanent move it is not clear.

Another of our young players has left the club on a season long loan. This time it is Kyle Bartley who has joined Championship side Sheffield United.

There is more stuff today in the Telegraph about the Arsenal Supporters Trust survey. This time they highlight the question over ownership.

And it seems William Gallas demands have ruled out a possible move to our north London neighbours because of his contract demands, according to the Daily Mail.

Finally for today, if you thought anyone would have least impact on an Arsenal player, it would be Joey Barton.  But according to Samir Nasri, he helped the Frenchman realise the Premier League wasn't going to be a walk in the park.

"During one of my first matches in England, we played Newcastle and Barton tried to intimidate me. It definitely made me a better player.
"The Premier League demands a lot of effort because there is so much intensity and you can't cheat.
"Since that day, I have improved a lot. Thank you Mr Barton!"
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