A young, inexperienced Arsenal side were far from convincing in the Champions League Qualifying First Leg against Udinese at the Emirates last night, but the general consensus is that an away goal in Italy should put the tie out of Udinese's hands. If only it were ever thus.
Theo Walcott, celebrating bagging what turned out to be a 4th minute winner.
Another clean sheet, and the Koscielny-Vermaelen partnership seems to be blossoming at this early stage. Two defensive shutouts so far, we appear built on solid foundations at the back as the rest of the side crumbles. Let's not get ahead of ourselves - two injuries to Gibbs and Djourou highlight the necessity to get some experienced cover in, both at left back and centre back. We can't risk going into the season with the threat of Squillaci getting any game time. And I'm unconvinced by Gibbs defensively; his injury problems are renowned. We've been linked all summer long to Cahill, Jagielka, Samba, and recently, Scott Dann. I just don't see Wenger splashing out £15m on a third/fourth choice CB, so I foresee a late £6m-£8m bid for Scott Dann - though this may depend on whether we can offload the shambles that is Squillaci - AW has made it very clear this summer that he has to sell before he can buy.
Ah yes, The Great 2011 Arsenal Exodus has picked up a bit of pace this week, with Fabregas, Vela, Eboue being ushered out the exit door and the likes of Samir Nasri and Nicklas Bendtner expected to follow shortly. Also, Andrei Arshavin remained on the bench last night, so he remains eligible to play for other European sides, should he be sold. My concern is that AW will point to the arrivals of the painfully inexperienced Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jenkinson, Campbell as well as the availability of Frimpong, Ramsay, and consider these players sufficient looking ahead to the rest of the season, neglecting to spend much (or any) of the estimated £60m-£70m we will have raised by the end of August. And he has already intimated he is willing to gamble on the new kids to replace the old ones. Fingers crossed Wenger has his Damascene moment and acknowledges the need to add some experience to the squad, and privately pledges to "spend some fucking money," even if he refuses to betray his poker-faced commitment to ambiguity publicly.