No number for our star signing
It's been another three long days at work for me. The heat in this part of the country has been a bonus and makes working outside all Winter worthwhile - while most people are stuck in stuffy offices, I get to enjoy the sunshine on days like this.
Thanks to Skyplus I was able to see the whole of yesterdays game without knowing the result beforehand. Of course it was largely about players getting some time running around a football field while playing against someone other than a colleague in training. That doesn't mean you don't want to win, however. That is particularly important when you're up against a side that wouldn't compete in the third division in England. It's fair to say that the Malaysian XI gave Arsenal a serious going over for large parts of the game. If it hadn't been for Vito Mannone we could have been utterly humiliated yesterday.
Defensively we were all over the place as usual. I will ignore the second-half back-four as only one of them was playing in his normal position (though credit to Craig Eastmond who I felt had a fine game at centre-back). The first-half was a real concern, however. I really don't know what Thomas Vermaelen was doing for most of it. People will talk about rustiness and all that nonsense, but stepping out to play a forward offside, and getting it wrong by about three yards, is nothing to do with rustiness. I have to say that I believe Vermaelen avoids a lot of stick for his defensive deficiencies due to his excellence going forward.
There were two players who stood out for me yesterday. For the first twenty-five minutes I thought Abou Diaby was the best player on the pitch by a mile. I wasn't surprised that he ran out of steam that quickly having not played properly for so long. I suppose we will find out on Friday whether his quieter final twenty minutes was due to fatigue or due to pain from yet another injury. In the second-half it was Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain that took up the challenge. What a player he is. The pace and strength of The Ox is frightening, and it was notable that he played in the middle of midfield. I hope he stays there.
The major disappointment was Theo Walcott who was awful. It was actually a blessing when he was taken off before we had equalised. Of the youngsters Nico Yennaris was probably the most impressive performer, and the way he set up the equaliser (following a great pass from Alex Song) was outstanding. Benik Afobe missed his chance to make a genuine impression - Kevin Campbell and Cesc Fabregas have both staked their claim successfully in pre-season in the past, and I reckon Afobe will be kicking himself.
The pre-season bandwagon has now moved on to Beijing and is set to come to a juddering halt in the Birds Nest Stadium against Manchester City on Friday. If the performance does not improve from yesterday then I dread to think what City might do to us. And don't give me any crap about it only being pre-season.
The Club has once again embarrassed itself this afternoon with the announcement of the "new" squad numbers. It is quite incredible that our big signing of the Summer has not been given a number. We all know that Lukas Podolski is going to be given the number ten shirt. By a similar token we all know that Robin Van Persie won't be around this season. So why the hell have they not just given the shirt to Podolski? It's yet another own-goal from the Club.
We also have the nonsense of our new centre-forward being given the number 12 shirt, while Ju Young Park (who?) continues to masquerade as a number 9. Henri Lansbury, meanwhile, has not been allocated a first-team place. I think we can assume that Lansbury's Arsenal career is over (this follows hot on the heels of Wenger failing to mention him among his available midfielders the other day). Francis Coquelin has been given a proper number, while we already knew that Kyle Bartley had been promoted. Apart from all of that we still have Andre Santos pretending to be Anders Limpar or Marc Overmars. Embarrassing.
Cue the abuse for worrying about things that aren't important.