Monday, 9 July 2012

Gunners return to training at Colney with a few new faces around

Morning Gooners.

The players who weren't at Euro 2012 report back to London Colney today for the start of pre-season training as they start their preparation for the 2012/13 season.

With only six days to go until our pre-season openers against Southampton and Anderlecht at St Mary's statium, it gives Arsene Wenger little time to get involved too heavily with off the field issues which could cause a distraction.

The likes of Alex Song, Thomas Vermaelen and Andre Santos (who won't be seeing Yossi Benayoun today, much to his own surprise) will be put through some fitness and strengeth work, will also have their vital statistics taken to make sure they've not put on too much weight over the summer.

Brazilian youngster Wellington will be involved as he rejoins the club following his season long loan in Spain.

A brand new face who won't have been seen at Colney is Caen striker M'Baye Niang who is having a trial at the club. Many will not know that during the season hundreds of young players come to the club for trials. Many are never heard of again - remember the Oman left back who was at Colney last winter? - but some do make it through, Emmanuel Eboue being a case in point.

Whether Robin van Persie will be there remains to be seen. He's back in London following his Caribbean holiday - yes, it is ironic that he blasts Ivan Gazidis for being away whilst being away himself - but my guessing is that the "captain" won't be involved in pre-season preparations today.

Arsene Wenger will no doubt want to speak with him one to one to find out exactly how much Robin does truly feel about what was in the statement attributed to him. If Wenger thinks he can win him over, he'll integrate him back with his team mates as soon as possible.

If their differences cannot be reconciled, he'll probably have him train alone in the gym at Colney and isolate him from the rest of the group. My guess is that Wenger will try his best to get Robin to see sense but at the moment his position as club captain remains untenable.

Had Robin kept his mouth shut - or made a statement through Arsenal that he didn't plan to renew his contract - there wouldn't be this problem. But by doing what he did, he attempted to create a situation where there is no way back for him at Arsenal. Of course he won't hand in a transfer request, that would cost him his loyalty bonus after all.

But Arsenal should hold firm in my opinion. Keep van Persie to his contract. And only sell him once their terms of engagement have been met. The players don't even know what's going on with Robin, with Aaron Ramsey saying they're in the dark as the fans are.

What we do need to do now is ensure that Theo Walcott signs a new deal. We cannot be going into another season where we're in the same situation we were in with Samir Nasri last summer. The club needs to pull out all the stops to ensure that Theo signs or if he's not prepared to do that, sell him to the highest bidder.

I'm looking forward to the season ahead. I think if Robin and Theo's situations were clearer I would be feeling more optimistic. But we've done some good business in signing Lucas Poldolski and Olivier Giroud.

There still hasn't been any additions to the midfield or the defence, but I'm sure that's the area Arsene Wenger is targeting next. He won't be placing all his eggs in the basket which says that Steve Bould and Neil Banfield will give us defensive stability through their involvement in the coaching set up.

It so many ways it's a new beginning at Arsenal this season. If only it didn't feel like the same old off the pitch.

Elsewhere, Marouane Chamakh has been linked with a move to Fiorentina. Think I've head that one before.

That's it for today. More tomorrow.

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