We’ve had a couple of pre season friendlies this week just gone and we passed the test of fitness pretty well. It was good to see us make light work of Everton as well, winning a ‘trophy’ along the way. The main thing here is fitness and any good performances are a bonus. Bad ones just need to be brushed aside as rustiness rather than commonality. Santi and Mesut looked like they hadn’t missed a beat whereas others like Giroud and The Ox had a mixed return on their performances. The hate that goes around for players who have a bad game in pre season needs to be directed at a much more worthy cause, the likes of John Terry or Chelsea for example. Whilst we’re on the topic of hatred, there’s been an increased jubilation and a ‘good riddance’ euphoria around the potential departure of Mathieu Flamini. I know he’s not the midfield terrier he once was but the guy tries his hardest every time he plays and lest we forget he was pretty useful the year he came back. More useful than we anticipated so he has done well for us previously. If he leaves then good luck to him but there’s no real need to send hate his way.
So, the team will now fly back from their tour and look to gain a little more fitness in the Emirates Cup festivities. Thereafter we will kick into the season with a rather tasty Community Shield fixture vs Chelsea. We can say whatever we like about the fixture being a pre season friendly rather than the real deal but make no mistake about it – both teams hate each other too much to be taking the game lightly. I can imagine that Wenger will be full focused and imparting that persona unto the players. We will be in good shape going into that game and into the start of the season if we can bring one more in. The DM ship looks to have sailed and full attention now points firmly in the direction of Madrid. With Alexander Lacazette affirming his commitment to Lyon (which counts for bugger all these days #Delph) all signs point to Karim Benzema. Every year we are linked and every year he continues to bang in the goals for Real. This year however could prove to be different. He’s won everything he can with Real Madrid, he’s now playing under a manager who loves counter attack football for the full 90 and he’s, for the first time, been placed in the corridor of uncertainty. No big player likes that area and Benzema will be the same. He’s obviously awaiting any kind of assurances from Benitez who has quite publicly stated Ramos will be staying. But no noise whatsoever from the manager on Benzema is music to my ears. On top of that both Fernando Lorrente and Marco Reus have been heavily linked with Los Blancos, no smoke without fire as they say. I know some of the sources on the transfer have been questionable at best *cough Tancredi cough cough* but it would be different if it were only the likes of him mentioning it. The rumours are coming from left right and centre, I’m really keen to see what Graham Hunter and Guillem Balague have to say on the mater.
There is definitely something going on behind the scenes and a transfer may well happen – people are likening it to the Ozil-Bale merry go round. I however believe it’s a little different this time around. There’s no real pressure to ‘get their man’ from Madrid as that ‘man’ will be plan B. It’s almost in Madrid’s interest to have the Benzema transfer happen sooner rather than later once Benitez is sure that’s what he wants of course. But having said that, no already existing top player wants to be re-trialled for his position in the team. Ribery and Robben hated Van Gaal for this at Bayern Munich and Benzema will undoubtedly react in the same way. Benitez has very little time to make up his mind with what he wants as footballers are prideful beasts that need the arm around their shoulder, especially centre forwards. This may run beyond the Community Shield but don’t be surprised if it’s concluded before the 9th of August. He could well be the missing piece in the jigsaw, the jigsaw that has very slightly changed shape, but he could be the man we need to take us to the next level. A front three that reads: Alexis, Benzema, Walcott sounds pretty formidable, especially with the likes of Ozil and Cazorla pulling the strings behind them.
Time to continually refresh your Twitter feeds Gooners.
Have a wonderful week folks & follow me on Twitter @MiteshLakhani1