I am still on a football break, if you can call it that. I missed Arsenal’s first preseason match against Boreham Wood on Saturday afternoon. I normally would have at least tried to watch this match. Over the last few years, I think I’ve only missed a handful of matches, competitive or otherwise. I’ll go as far as follow the reserve games via twitter when I can. But I suffocated my family with World Cup matches for the past month, so I figured, let them off the hook for a few more weeks.
How much can you invest emotionally in preseason friendlies anyway? It is just an opportunity for the more established guys to break off the summer rust, and for the young guys to try and make an impression on the boss while his attention is still firmly focused on assembling the senior squad. Can you really derive much more from a 2 nil win over a Conference South opponent? Maybe, but I’m not one to read to deep into any of it. Although, seeing the likes of Akpom, Afobe, Zelalem, Toral, Hayden, Bellerin, and Olsson getting a run with some of the senior players was good to see.
I saw a name on the team sheet that I had almost forgotten, Francis Coquelin, aka the Coq. Last season I had concocted in my mind that Coquelin would probably be sold after his loan spell at SC Freiburg. I always had a soft spot for the Coq, but with the last loan I had thought Wenger was adding him to his “driftwood” exodus plan, but was unable to move him fully. Opting for the next best thing, placing him in the display window at Freiburg.
From what I understand, his loan proved fruitless, aimlessly plugged into the lineup as a stopgap for injuries. If the plan was to show him off in order to sell, Wenger is likely not happy with the result. If the plan was actually to get the young Frenchman more minutes, I don’t suspect Wenger wanted willy-nilly minutes anywhere on the pitch. But let me come full circle to my soft spot for the Coq. He’s now 23, returning to a squad that I am excitedly expecting to mount a serious title charge. For Francis, this is his chance to learn from the master of the dark arts himself, Flamini. He can also provide a little cover for our full backs. The key is still potential.
What I am not happy with is the insistence by some good folks on the internet that he will be the defensive midfielder we have been needing since Gilberto Silva. That my hopelessly in love with silly season friends, is not the answer, right now. I don’t like to swim in the speculation pool, but occasionally you are have no choice, I suspect we are still hunting for a seasoned professional to fill that void. There is still some time to go before the window crashes shut and we can go back to actually discussing football, until then I pray that the silly season will keep the silly to a reasonable level.
Arsenal’s preseason tour continues this week heading to New Jersey to play the NY Red Bulls on July 26th. For everyone outside of the United States, this might be just another warm up match. For us living here in America, and those in the relative vicinity or with the financial means to travel to NY/NJ, this. is. HUGE. Arsenal has not made its way to this side of the Atlantic in 25 years. New York will be red.
I think Arsenal’s management is going to realize this week, they have taken for granted a massive fanbase. Although this WSJ journalist paints it with a brush of snark, ” for inexplicable reasons…90% of soccer fans in the U.S. seem to root for Arsenal,” the fact remains, Arsenal is represented in the USA. We all have our different reasons, but whatever the case maybe Arsenal is our club, and this week, for those that can make it, we will proudly put that affection on display.
There are a litany of thing to do, here are a few: Fan Party event at Izod Center, Puma NY kick off event, 14th Street is Red Arsenal Supporters Social, Big Gun on Your Chest Art Show, US Book launch from Arseblog himself Andrew Managan, the actual Arsenal vs RBNY match, and a 5 a side Arsenal America sponsored tournament.
I want to be a part of it all, but time is limited, so I’ll have to pick and choose myself. Hopefully I’ll meet some great Gooners from across the country this week! Up the Arsenal!