Well it seems like only yesterday that I wrote the final piece from last season. I didn't do the usual squad review pieces, end of season awards etc because time caught up with me and there seemed little point once I was finally able to find the time. So, that being the case, this is the first post in nearly two months since Arsene Wenger signed his new contract. The weather has been proper summer stuff and Arsenal have made two new signings in Sead Kolasinac and Alexander Lacazette. Exciting stuff, and now the squad have flown off to Australia ahead of the first pre-season game later this week in Sydney.
With the list of those travelling down under posted on the official Arsenal website it is clearer now what Arsene Wenger's plans are for 2017-18 with some notable absentees from the touring party. Forget Alexis, Mustafi, Bellerin, Holding and Chambers as they were all involved in tournaments so are not back from holiday until at least Emirates Cup weekend, I would think. However, some players have surely seen their Arsenal careers ended by the departure of the chartered plane with them still back in England. Wilshere, Cazorla and Zelalem are all injured, but Lucas Perez, Joel Campbell, Mathieu Debuchy, Kieran Gibbs, Wojciech Szczesny and Carl Jenkinson are surely at the end of the road with Arsenal. Given the extra games, and tighter schedule, that being in the Europa League brings I am really surprised at some of this. I really expected Szczesny might get a chance this season to regain his number one position, with Ospina leaving, but the Colombian is still here and the Pole isn't. Kieran Gibbs is obviously the one who Kolasinac has come to replace but, with Monreal highly effective on the left side of a back three I find that disappointing - Gibbs is Arsenal through and through. Similarly, Carl Jenkinson (as I've written before) has been badly done to both by the boss and the fans who seem to have forgotten he is really not as bad as the internet trolls would have them believe. With Debuchy finally taking the long walk there was surely room for the versatile Corporal to retain his place in the squad - another "homegrown" player towards the quota as well. The most disappointing, for me, is the fact that Lucas Perez now seems certain to leave the club. He was nothing short of brilliant in the few games he played, scored and created goals, yet somehow Wenger never wanted to give him his chance - why did he bother signing the lad?
There are the usual good few youngsters on the trip to Australia and China, with Maitland-Niles and Nelson already announced by Arsene Wenger as moving up to join the first-team squad this season. The likes of Joe Willock are maybe more of a surprise, but perhaps it's a small "could have been you" jab at his older brothers who both moved away from Arsenal. Eddie Nketiah is a prolific young centre-forward and looks the absolute business in front of goal when you get to see him play. The presence of Lacazette, Giroud, Welbeck, Walcott and Alexis makes it quite the traffic jam ahead of him, but this might just be a chance for him to show Arsene Wenger he has something special about him.
So the new season is already virtually upon us with the first friendly just a couple of days away. I'm going to the Seville game in the Emirates Cup, and to Wembley for the Charity Shield. I don't have Premier Sports, who I believe have live coverage of the pre-season games, so for anything I'm not at I will be relying on Arsenal Player for highlights or whole match re-runs etc. As ever, we are a couple of decent signings away from looking good, but the players on their way out concern me with the need for huge squad this season.