Colney - where the hard work happens
So here we go then. The bulk of Arsenal players returned to training today ahead of the long slog of pre-season. There was some light relief last night as Andre Santos told Yossi Benayoun on Twitter that he couldn't wait to see the Israeli. Benayoun was priceless in his reply as he told Santos he would need a photograph if he wanted to see him. Quite clearly the Brazillian was completely unaware that his teammate was not really an Arsenal player.
I've been waiting all day for Arsenal to upload some photos from today on the official website. Usually they have the first images of the early fitness work up on there by lunchtime. Perhaps Arsene didn't want any publicity today as I'm sure he has had plenty to say to those that are present after what happened last week. Either way I couldn't wait any longer as I wanted to get a post written before too late in the afternoon.
Obviously there are some notable absentees from the training at the moment as all those players who were at Euro 2012 are enjoying their holidays. As a result there will be no Robin Van Persie and no embarrassing silences as he walks among those who actually want to play for Arsenal. I am extremely annoyed that he is still, officially, the Arsenal Captain. Arsene Wenger must show some balls and make an announcement that he has been sacked from that position. We all know that Wenger doesn't see it as a particularly important thing, but it is symbolic to the supporters and I'm sure Frank McLintock and Tony Adams find it disgraceful that Van Persie is still wearing the armband, as it stands.
The players that are back to work, including the likes of Thomas Vermaelen, Kieran Gibbs, Carl Jenkinson, Gervinho, Alex Song, Johann Djourou and Mikel Arteta are preparing ahead of the first friendly. I expect them all to be involved at some point against Southampton and/or Anderlecht on Saturday. I'm really excited about seeing Arsenal in action again this weekend, and I will do some proper previewing of that nearer the time. Also likely to be involved are some of the fabled "dead wood" who are yet to be shifted on. We have the likes of Squillaci, Fabianski (if fit), Mannone, Chamakh, Vela and Bendtner all still on the payroll (Ju Young Park is representing Korea at the Olympics in a couple of weeks - I have tickets to see him play at Wembley against Gabon in the big game of the opening round!) Personally I do not want to see any of these players involved at St Mary's - they are not likely to play for Arsenal any time soon so why have them get in the way of experience that could be given to a young player like Chuks Aneke, for example?
I hope that we will be getting some quotes from Arsene Wenger in the next day or two, and also some interviews with one or two of the players. Obviously, as these will be available only through Arsenal Player there will be nothing particularly juicy, but at least it will be Arsenal related blandness as we head towards Southampton on Saturday.
Finally for today you can find my latest offering for Arsenal Zone by following this link. Hopefully I'll have some more here tomorrow.