Phew! Pre-season is here.

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So it all kicks off again, at Barnet, this afternoon.

And while the squad does contain the expected Frimpongs, Coquelins and Barazites of this world, it’s a surprisingly strong 21-man squad when you add Rosicky, Arshavin, Gallas, Vermaelen and Almunia.

How marvellous it is to see Tomas Rosicky back. By my reckoning (with a little bit of help from the worldly-wise internest), he has been absent from the pitch for roughly forty-six million, six hundred and fifty-six thousand seconds. The poor fella has had to rehabilitate for 18 long months, and his treadmill-pounding began just when the world went to the financial dogs. It must have been pretty miserable looking at the looped news on Sky on his sofa with his hamstrings all askance.

Anyway, welcome back the T.

From Tomas to Thomas – it’s a big welcome for our Belgian defender Thomas Vermaelen. As it stands, he has to battle his way to the front by displacing Toure or Gallas – though I’m sure Gallas and Toure will feel threatened too – so we could see some concentrated minds at the back as the competition for places hots up.

(Incidentally, we do have another top Gunner out there – Thomas Cruise. Who will be his wingman?)

(As if the poor lad hasn’t heard that before).

Finally, and I was rather hoping this would have gone away by now, but I am struck by how much of a PR disaster Emmanuel Adebayor is. He and his ‘people’ have managed to go about this on-off transfer so hamfistedly that, in addition to the already lukewarm Arsenal fans, I can’t imagine Man City fans are wheeling out the brass bands in anticipation of his arrival either.

It’s not as if the non-partisan football fans of the world are looking upon him through soft focus either. The press he has received – whether it is fair or entirely fabricated – does not paint him in a pretty light and his advisors have a job on their hands to turn his reputation around.

Some of it’s been pretty vitriolic. Sure, I’d like to see him sold too, but reading some of the stuff I have read online, you’d think he was the most despised Arsenal footballer of all time. Is he really?

It’s all gone sour with him now, and he needs to move on as much as we would like him to. But he’s hardly the first footballer who wants to feather his nest, nor is he the first employee to wish he worked somewhere else and let his performances dip as a result. His obscene weekly salary does not protect him against that.

What City are taking a punt on is a player who – when his mind is right – has the ability to cause havoc. A player who, even in a bad season, can score 15 goals. For their sake, I just hope he wants the challenge there enough to replicate his form of 2007-8. (Clearly, personally I’d rather he forgot how to tie his shoelaces – that would serve the Arsenal best).

For our sake, I hope he realises that there’s no way back at Arsenal and that moving to City, as his only option, is something he should grasp with both hands and get stuck into.


Arsenal since about 1979. Thick, thin and all that.