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Gervinho & Afobe in Köln squad, Cesc not + defender speculation 23 July, 2011

Posted by lasagnechef in Arsenal News.

Yesterday the team travelled to Germany to face FC Köln in today’s 2.30pm (GMT) kick off. The squad included Fabianksi who has recovered from last season’s injury, new signing Gervinho and youngster Afobe who has returned on loan from Huddersfield. It’s a chance for both strikers to impress, both will be looking to get some game time and both will be aiming to put on a good show.

It’s my suspicion that Benik Afobe will go back out on loan this season, whether it be next month or January but with no resolution on the Joel Campbell situation there’s evidence to support that there’s space in the squad for a young striker. I doubt there’s room for both he and Emmanuel-Thomas so he’ll be battling it out with his reserves team mate for that spot.

Speaking of Campbell, the latest word on the grapevine Twitter is that we might’ve agreed a deal for him to come after the U20 World Cup. There we no concrete quotes to support the story though so it’s still a case of wait and see on that one.

As for Gervinho well he will certainly be in the first team squad and Wenger has backed him to make an impression this season:

“He looks to me like he has adjusted very quickly. Let’s hope it goes quickly for him. You never know, some players take six months and some players take two weeks.

He does seem a very typical Arsene signing; an African forward who’s done well in Ligue 1 ready to step up to the Premier League. After Chamakh’s good start last season I’m kind of hoping Gervinho will have the same impact this season. Marouane was thrown in at the deep end really when van Persie picked up his customary injury and did very well being relied on that early, his form and appearances faded away as the season went on and I don’t really know what to expect of him this year. Here’s hoping that not only can Gervinho emulate Chamakh’s form in front of goal but also Robin can stay fit so we don’t have to rely on him or anyone else!

As nice as it is to see the new additions to today’s squad eyes were always going to be focused on the inclusion, or rather lack of Cesc Fabregas. We weren’t surprised to see he didn’t travel to Germany and the official word is he hasn’t recovered from a muscular injury. Whether that’s true or not only they know but it does seem as if he’s being spared just as he was for the Asia trip.

There has been a number of reports saying Barcelona representatives were in London this week to discuss the transfer. I’m starting to suspect that an agreement might be made as soon as next week and with Barcelona offloading Bojan it looks like they could be getting some funds together. With this dragging out as long as it has I could see us accepting anything over £35m just allowing us to move on from the saga. It would represent a small victory for the Catalan’s picking up a player of such quality for that price and would go completely against the current market but we are not desperate for cash – only for a resolution.

When asked about the possibility of Cesc and the other outgoing transfers this is what Wenger had to say:

“The position at the moment [with Fabregas] is a ‘no comment’ situation because there is no movement at all.

[It is] not completely [sorted that Samir will stay] but I want him to stay. He knows that. Hopefully we can sort that out in the coming weeks.

Alumina has been contacted by a few clubs, Bendtner as well.

As long as the situation is not settled, we have to focus on the coming season with the players we have. The players who are uncertain, it is difficult for them to focus on being completely committed.”

That last sentence is very telling. There are a lot of quotes coming out saying the squad is not unsettled by the rumours of players leaving the club but maybe that’s because they’ve been rather excluded from pre-season preparations. It seems as if Arsene is already preparing for departures by not including the want-away stars in his squads.

As with Fabregas, Bendtner, Almunia and whoever else may be nearing an exit I hope it is done sooner rather than later. I hope for our’s and for Cesc’s sake a deal can be agreed next week so we can just move on and prepare for the new season. It’ll give us time to evaluate our squad and hopefully make new additions accordingly. The longer this drags out the more tedious it gets and the less time we have to look to replace.

As for incomings, Wenger says we are after a defender. Praise the lord! With Clichy left for pastures richer and Eboue also rumoured to be leaving we could really do with a wing back. Not only that but we’ve been crying out for an established centre back for ages now, Squillaci is not the answer and with all due respect we are going to struggle if he gets in the side.

Apparently we’ve made a £10m bid for Phil Jagielka but Everton will be looking for nearer double that. If it were up to me I’d raise that bid to 16 or 17 million and see if that gets money-strapped Everton thinking. It would show ambition to make a signing like that and I’d feel a lot more comfortable about the defence with him included. Not that I think he’s God’s gift as a defender or anything but he’s a lot more solid than some that I’ve mentioned and I think having he, Vermaelen, Djourou and Koscielny as our centre back choices would be a good thing.

As for a wing back well we’ve brought Jenkinson in but he really shouldn’t be in the first team this season; maybe Caring Cup but I would hope nothing more than that. On the other flank I do rate Gibbs and recall rating his as a better option than Clichy at one point last season but we don’t know if we can rely on him yet due to his ongoing injury problems. Behind him there’s just Armand Traore and I wasn’t expecting him to be with us when the season starts.

There’s a lot of transfer business to be done between now and the start of the season, both outgoing and incoming. I tipped this as being a busy week for deals to be done but not a lot has been achieved. Maybe next week is the one, or maybe the one after that, or we’ll be stuck in this endless tedious that surrounds every transfer window nowadays.

Thankfully, we can forget about all that rubbish for this afternoon at least. I’ll be tuning into Arsenal Player this afternoon I hope for the FC Köln friendly, if you’re not lucky enough to have the service I should be reporting from my Twitter.

I’ve seen Gervinho is wearing 22 today, that’s my lucky number – maybe I should do some live football betting on a debut goal.


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