Despite somewhat stop-start viewing – I watched the first half of yesterday’s game on my phone and the second half late last night – the Grove Cup was, as ever, enjoyable. It’s the first proper chance as fans to see new signings and other returning players, to parade the excellent new home shirt, and unless your name is Almunia or Fabianski, it’s almost entirely pressure-free.
But it doesn’t tell us much really, with players missing and others not yet match fit.
It’s perhaps not surprising at the tail end of a summer in which England flopped, but a lot of the headlines this morning go to Jack Wilshere, man of the match yesterday. Despite generally cautious praise from Wenger, he did not rule out Wilshere being called up for England.
“In 2012 he will be 20, so why not. You cannot rule it out, but it is down to performances.”
Personally, I’d rather he got more club experience before England even considered him, but if he continues to improve as he is doing, the call will come sooner rather than later. There’s no doubt he’s a very bright talent, an Englishman who likes to both win and keep the ball, and with an eye for pass. Very exciting for Arsenal fans.
Wenger was quick to lump Frimpong (aka ‘The Frimster‘ – now lodged in my mind, thanks for that blogger) in with the same praise too, and he was certainly the pleasant surprise of the tournament.
Walcott and Gibbs both looked hungry too, giving us more genuine British options this season than we’ve had for many a year. If Ramsey comes back in late autumn (and we’re all desperate for him to), then we will have four British players good enough to nail down first team places, with some exciting reserves (Jet, Frimpong, Eastmond etc). The bottom line is that if they are good enough, Wenger will play them, and this lot are our best crop of local youngsters for a long time.
This week we get Fabregas and van Persie back, and with Wenger challenging Cesc to break radio silence, the focus will be on him once more – not that it ever wasn’t. But we need it to stop, one way or another, because a) it’s a boring pantomime and b) we need it to be ‘behind us’. Sorry.
Other than that, the boss admits we need “at least one” centre back and that as far as keepers go, “we have two more weeks to decide what I will do”.
So no change there then…