Well here we all are again, a little dustier and a trifle older, but here we all are nevertheless.
I did try to get excited about the internationals. But I couldn’t. I missed the Ukraine game entirely, and though I did watch the Belarus game, it was so inconsequential that I lost interest faster than I do when I periodically attempt doing some DIY. From an Arsenal perspective, England taught us naught: Walcott still has a fair chance of making it, but for Gibbs and Wilshere it’s a non-starter.
We did learn that Eduardo has the summer off – maybe he can go caravanning with Aaron Ramsey. And of course, Almunia might fancy tagging along, assuming his chest infection has mended by then.
Onto the Arsenal, at last. We’ve got Brum on Saturday, and although their new owner has promised Â£20-40m for the transfer window, Chinese riches will do them no good until January and we’ll rightly be viewing it as three points that should be ours.
Talking of foreign ownership, I now make it just nine of the 20 English Premier League clubs under English ownership – a seismic change, the effects of which we probably cannot yet foresee. Better run in some cases, more commercial in most, but who’s to say it’s all for the best? I have my doubts that all of the owners are as benign as they’d have us think. And where are all the English investors?
Arsenal are in a strange place in that, while majority-owned by foreign investors, the old Arsenal boardroom still has a lot of power. But as we’ve seen over the last year, with Kroenke and Usmanov both increasing their shareholdings substantially (the former adding to his stock only today), it’s only a matter of time before something will give. It’s been, by comparison to some takeovers, something of a slow burner. But it’s happening.
Onto this weekend, and we’ve got the usual clutch of injuries – with perhaps the most significant absentee being Almunia, still just 50:50 for Saturday. That was some chest infection.
I know he’s made some errors this season and that, in general, he’s a bit of a wobbler, but I’d not put Mannone ahead of Almunia. Sure, Mannone’s done well, but Almunia’s experience will always win it for me. Now, whether he’s our long-term keeper is another argument entirely…
More from Wenger tomorrow – and I’m told by the folks at Arsenal.com that “Friday night is back” too. This is all good, I suspect. Having said that, I never knew it had gone, seeing that I didn’t have a Setanta subscription, but there you go. Trailer below, if you’re interested.