By Avenell Dave
So after two months of absolute nothingness, Arsenal finally start the new season in earnest tomorrow with their traditional curtain-raiser at Barnet.
Hopes of seeing a handful of new faces may have been dashed by a slower-than-desired recruitment policy this summer, but with many senior players unlikely to feature, it’s a chance to possibly celebrate having a couple of old faces back in the squad.
Addict has always believed that a fully fit Eduardo could be one of the best strikers in the Premier League – and there’s a chance he may feature tomorrow.
We saw in the brief spell he enjoyed last season how talented he is and if he stays fully fit, we could replace Manu Badebuyer with Bobby Zamora (two goals in PL least season in case you forgot) and still have a stronger strike force than last season.
But along with Eduardo, Tomas Rosicky may also make his long-awaited return to action, despite earlier reports suggesting he was expecting to return no sooner than the autumn.
There have been times where I’ve begun to wonder whether ‘Little Mozart’ would ever be fit again and certainly the temptation to release him and sign someone with a better fitness record must have crossed Arséne Wenger’s mind over the past 18 months.
But what Rosicky and Eduardo bring to the squad is what we missed last season – seasoned internationals, not too young, not too old, who have the talent to change matches and the ability to help the younger members of team progress.
It will give us a couple of new signings, in effect, if they can be built up to resist the rigours of the English season.
Remember, they’re both integral members of their international squads and need to prove their fitness and ability ahead of the World Cup next summer.
It’s easy to forget Armand Traore as well, who returns from a year-long spell at Portsmouth. The Frenchman started as a full-back but it seems Wenger decided a while back that Kieran Gibbs was more suited to a defensive role and pushed Traore further forward.
Whether we keep Traore or loan him out again, he gives us another option on the left and has top level Premier League experience.
Wenger may not have succeeded in completing his transfer business before the trip to Austria but I remain hopeful that he still makes some signings.
He’s already signed Cheltenham star Jamie Edge, who played with their under-18 team before he was even 16 and can, as far as reports suggest, play in defence or midfield. There’s also been talk of Montenegro youngster Veljko Batrovic signing for us while Real Madrid and AC Milan look on. Let’s hope one or other of them proves to be a prodigy.
I was with the squad a few years ago during that tour with a couple of triallists trying to prove their worth.
One, Gael Clichy, didn’t play very well, but Wenger saw enough potential to sign him up.
The other was a tall rangy midfielder who looked like a younger Patrick Vieira and I was convined he would be a new star for the club. Sadly, Wenger didn’t sign him and that fact that he, Yaya Toure, went on to lift the European Cup this season, suggests he was one that got away.
But Wenger broke the news one Friday evening that he’d signed a new goalkeeper – Jens Lehmann.
And we all know how that season ended up. A repeat in World Cup year would go down very nicely indeed.