So, what did we learn at Members’ Day today?
Well, not much actually. We learnt that Aaron Ramsey is allowed to eat cream cakes, and that Theo Walcott has a ‘naughty drawer’, but other than that… not much.
The club managed to avoid making a decision on the squad photograph until a while longer, so we’ll have to wait and see whether Cesc is included – he may even be gone by the time it’s actually taken. He did, however, have an individual photograph for Sky Sports and the like, but that and the squad photo are completely different matters. In fairness, we did learn that he’s quite clearly not injured, because he was always at the forefront of any running, and didn’t have to sit out of anything.
There were a few other things of note to occur – Nicklas Bendtner trained as normal with the rest of the team, while Samir Nasri, Manuel Almunia, Emmanuel Eboue and Jack Wilshere sat out completely, with Theo Walcott doing some light running. It would seem that Nasri is injured, but perhaps there’s more to this one than meets the eye.
It was interesting to see that Bendtner did train, while Eboue and Almunia didn’t. All three had seemed on the brink of an exit, with Eboue reportedly close to sealing a deal to join Galatasaray. If that’s true, it would indicate Bendtner is most likely going to stay, with Almunia also on his way out with Eboue. I wouldn’t be surprised if we couldn’t find a club for Almunia, in which case we may well just release him.
As for Bendtner, he’d been strongly linked with Borussia Dortmund and then Sporting Lisbon, but denials came from the other camp on both occasions, so it seems like he could be staying. Personally I’m glad, because he’s someone I rate quite highly, unlike some others. It’s easy to use the “arrogance” stick to hit him with, but at least he’s ambitious, instead of willing to settle for second best. Chamakh seems content to be second choice, while Bendtner has his heart set on playing and being first choice. Which attitude is better? Bendtner’s, by far.
And I was impressed with him today too. He scored two cracking goals in the small matches – one where he chested it down and thumped a volley into the roof of the net, and another where he powerfully curled the ball into the far corner from the left. To those who still doubt Bendtner’s quality, have a look at this goal he scored against Portugal – the technique and execution are absolutely spot on. A better player than people give him credit for.
Another player who caught my eye was Benik Afobe. He had some neat touches, and his low centre of gravity serves him well. The other youngsters who trained were Emmanuel Frimpong (Mr T haircut and all), Ryo Miyaichi and Henri Lansbury, and according to the reliable Young Guns, all four have been promoted to the first team. However, Lansbury responded to a congratulatory comment about his promotion negatively, saying ‘not me’, referring to being promoted of course.
The situation with Lansbury is a little unclear, because it had seemed like Arsene was a big fan of him, with the noises he was making and the opportunities he was giving Lansbury, but it appears that his contract is reaching its conclusion, with no extension around the corner. Wenger had rejected claims he was ready to move Lansbury on, and this twist is another to add to the puzzling Arsenal career of Henri Lansbury.
Personally I think he’d be a very handy player to have around, he’s versatile, skilful and strong. However, we have a lot of talented young midfielders who Lansbury would have to play second fiddle to, and I’m not sure he’d be content with that, so it may well be that a lack of future playing time means he looks for pastures new. A few lower level Premier League teams seem to be interested, so we may well be saying goodbye to Henri soon.
That’s the only problem with our youth production line – sometimes we lose promising players because we can’t promise them quite enough playing time, because there are others ahead of them. When those ahead of them turn out not to have it in their locker, it’s even more frustrating; Fran Merida and Mark Randall are two that I’d probably include in that bracket.
After the training session I had some interesting conversations with other bloggers in the WM Club at Club Level about the Champions League draw and technology in football, and it was good to get their opinions, before a Q&A session with, predictably, Kieran Gibbs, Theo Walcott, Johan Djourou and Aaron Ramsey. A lot of the questions were pretty much the same, and so cliché were the players’ answers that you could have predicted what they were going to say.
In the end, two signed shirts went to the askers of the best questions, which were apparently “Favourite TV programme” and “Can you eat cream cakes”. What an imaginative bunch of fans we have.