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Two Little Wizards And A Frenchman

It’s been a bit of a slow week for us Gooners, still chomping at the bit waiting for the confirmed arrival of Turkish international Nuri Sahin. It’s rumoured that Nuri Sahin’s one year loan year will finally be announced today, although no one seems to know whether that includes an option to buy him at the end of his spell. Really, it wouldn’t make too much sense to bring in a player of such potential without knowing we can have him permanently should we choose. I don’t believe Arsène would let it happen, especially considering his long-time admiration of the former BVB playmaker. Right now, patience is all we need as we wait for the deal to be concluded.

Out with the old and in with the new, I suppose. It’s rumored that Zenit St. Petersburg have reignited their interest in Andrei Arshavin after his scintillating form in the Euros. I doubt I’m alone in saying that I’ll be sad to see him go, despite all his critics. Yes, his fall from grace was akin to a plummeting spitfire, but you can’t deny that he still has that spark. He’s no longer the most consistent performer, but he contributed some very important games over the last few seasons, namely an inch perfect cross to Thierry Henry to score the winner against Sunderland and a beautiful first time shot against Barcelona to win 2-1 at the Emirates. Fitness and desire were the main complaints of Andrei, but perhaps fatigue was also a long-term issue, considering he played 52 games for us in the 2010-11 season, the most appearances of any Arsenal player that year; second being Jack Wilshere with 49, and we all know how that turned out. I wish there were some way to keep him, but he seems to have one foot out the door already, and our other players on the chopping block don’t seem to be going anywhere quickly. I guess the only thing left to say is “thanks for the fun at Anfield” and move on.

What we lose in Arshavin has already been gained two-fold in the signing of Santi Cazorla. Everybody seems to be full of praise for him, even Robert Pires. The two were teammates at Villareal before Bobby moved on to Aston Villa and Santi to Malaga, and what Pires had to say comes as no surprise to those who have seen him in action.

“His vision and the quality of his passing is brilliant but he can also take people on. Despite still being quite young, he has big experience with the Spanish national team and has also played in the Champions League.

“Santi called me when the offer from the Club arrived and I told him that it was the perfect club for him,” Pires told the Official Arsenal Magazine.

“Finally, he has a very good mentality and is a real team player. He will need a bit of time to settle but I’m convinced he will adapt very quickly and will be a great signing for Arsenal.”

It’s wonderful how widespread the club’s influence is, but you have to wonder why Arsène missed out on Santi the first time around, before he went to Malaga. Supposedly we were in for him before inquiring about Chelsea’s Juan Mata, but negotiations broke down for one reason or the other. My best guess is the fact that we weren’t guaranteed the funds from Champion’s League qualification meant that both Valencia and Villareal weren’t sure we would be able to pay up when the time came. Understandable really, as no one was all too certain of us making it through to the group stages with the looming departures of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri. No sense in worrying about it too much now, however. The past is the past, but we now have our shiny new player from day one, which is always a bonus.

When the season finally kicked off, we got off to a bit of a dull start. Although, but let’s not forget that some key players were half way around the world playing meaningless international friendlies just days before the match against Sunderland, and it showed. Cazorla was drained after 60 minutes of play, and our passing continued to become slower and slower. He still managed to create chances, but the fatigue on him and some others in the team was there to be seen. Flying to Puerto Rico and back in less than four days can do that to you. This is the first week in a while where everyone in the team is together to train, and to build an understanding amongst each other. As the first month rolls on, we’ll see that the team will become more efficient as they feel each other out in training and during matches. Before we get too hot in the pants about us not winning out first match of the season, there are 37 games to go, and plenty of time to worry about the table later. If we hunker down and just focus on getting points on the board as soon as possible, we should be fine and everything will fall into place.

Now, onto some of our youth players and their endeavours. Conor Henderson wouldn’t mind another loan to get himself back on form and hopefully return to the senior squad sooner than later. This is one player that you really have to feel for, considering he had two serious injuries in one season that effectively set him back one year of development. I hope he can make a strong comeback and avoid becoming another Craig Eastmond or Henri Lansbury. Our system skims the best and leaves the rest, and we’re often far too lenient with players who simply aren’t good enough for Arsenal Football Club, and it showed in the recent sale of Kyle Bartley.

It seems we’re now due to sell a young defender to a lower club every season with Armand Traore joining QPR last year, and Bartley this year. With five centre backs ahead of him on the team sheet, it’s probably for the best that he moves on to improve and make a career for himself instead of rotting in our reserves. Best of luck, Kyle.

Another promising defender who has yet to break through the ranks and cement a starting position is Ignasi Miquel, who had nothing but praise for Steve Bould and Neil Banfield. When players make statements like these, you really get the sense that our squad truly is a family, and not just a bunch of individuals like other big teams in the game nowadays.

Anyway, that’s more than your fair share on everything Arsenal in the past few days. As we get closer to the gladiator’s arena that is the Britannia, be sure to check back for team news, match previews and the like. Bye for now.

Follow me on Twitter:  @MarshallArsenal

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