Dressed in the dark?
Arsenal put up the expected photographs from training yesterday. There are a couple of things that have struck me about the group that is there - from the look of the kit, to the players actually involved in the session.
Let's start with the aesthetics and that disgusting kit. The colours on show seem to confirm what we already knew about the soon to be unveiled away strip. It is certain now that we will be insulted by Arsenal as they thumb their nose to history and saddle us with a purple and black hooped away kit. It really does look like the sort of thing you might end up wearing after a power cut in an already darkened room. Hope may be on the horizon in a rumour that swept some sites last night, and was big on Twitter, that Arsenal have agreed a deal to return to Adidas from this time next year. I have no idea if it may be true, but I live very much in hope - the sooner we end Nike's ridiculously cheap association with the Club the better in my view.
On to the important stuff and there were, as usual, a couple of younger players joining the established squad for the first training session. Some of those lads will be involved in the early pre-season games, and will probably go on tour with the first-team next week. As the players returning from Euro 2012 begin to get fitter we will see some of these boys return to the Reserves. Until then they get an opportunity to impress Arsene Wenger.
Another thing you can tell from the kit is who is part of the "real" first-team squad and who is not. Each of the players considered as part of Wenger's squad have their number in white on the front of their shirt. Those who are currently making up the numbers have theirs printed in red. I was surprised to notice that Henri Lansbury has a red number. Barring a storming pre-season I suspect his days are now numbered as an Arsenal player (if they weren't already by his consecutive loan spells outside the Premier League). Also not really a part of things is Nico Yennaris. The likes of Craig Eastmond, who is also in the group right now, are never likely to make it and shouldn't even be involved at this stage, while Conor Henderson is battling back from a serious knee injury.
Finally I noticed that there are four goalkeepers pictured. At least three of them do not really have an Arsenal future - Fabianski, Mannone and James Shea. The other man is Emiliano Martinez who really does cut the figure of a confident and imposing presence. The Argentinian is highly rated and might find himself promoted this season. I expect his number to change to white before the season gets started.
Aaron Ramsey has been put in a very bad position by Chris Coleman. The Wales boss is trying to bring in some players via the backdoor rules that apply to international football. Among those Coleman wants to recruit is Ryan Shawcross. He has acknowledged that there are "issues" with Shawcross. I would say that's an understatement. Coleman has said that he would need to consult Aaron Ramsey before calling up Shawcross. Why? Why even consider calling him up? Aaron Ramsey is the Captain of Wales. Why does Coleman want to put the young man in such an awkward position? Basically he is about to be asked if he is willing to play alongside the man who tried to end his career, or whether he wants to become the bad guy by stopping Shawcross becoming an international footballer.
Sadly such things are what mark out a good Manager from a poor one. You would never see the top bosses getting involved in such nonsense - they would simply think what is best for the team and not put their Captain in such a no win situation. I hope Ramsey tells Coleman what he can do with his Wales team if he was to call up Shawcross. The lad has been through enough without having to pretend to be all chummy with the animal who nearly crippled him.