So, Friday already. How is that even possible? It was Monday like, half an hour ago. The Earth must be rotating quicker, that has to be it. Didn’t we have a whole extra second added to our day recently too? Or it could just be that my sense of time is as skewed as an Emmanuel Eboue strike from distance. Wayward.
But whatever. What I do know, is that this is the last Arsenal-less weekend for a while and that is very welcome indeed. I structure my life around the club’s fixtures you see (living the dream alright) – as each game ends, it’s a countdown to the next, a chance to build momentum or get back on track, do what wounded animals do (not die) – so the end of every season leaves me in a kind of listless limbo which is only ended by the red and white shoots of a budding new club campaign.
Whether the season will blossom and bear fruit or wither away in disappointment really is secondary at this stage. And it doesn’t matter to me that we’ll be playing opposition as unheralded as a Singapore Select XI on Wednesday either – we could be facing a mish-mash of Moldova under 19s and The Dog & Duck women’s team, I’m just happy to watch The Arsenal in action. Not long now …
And to help keep us occupied until then, the official site has been speaking with Alex Oxlade Chamberlain about the pain and gain of pre-season preparations.
Hunched over and gasping for air, with one hand on his knee, the other showering his head using a water bottle, and with Santi Cazorla visible in the background, lying flat on his back, arms and legs out-stretched, completely unresponsive, Alex said:
It is horrible! The first week is hell. We’re on day two now and it’s hard work. It’s a lot of running, crying, sore muscles, painful massages – it’s horrible but this is my sixth pre-season including Southampton now and you get used to it. You know what you’re in for and I think that’s why you enjoy your holiday whilst you have the chance because once you come back here it’s not too much fun for the first three weeks until you get back into the season. You have to push yourself hard to get back to Premier League standards and level of fitness. Playing Premier League teams like Everton or Stoke, whoever it may be, is obviously a good test for us and will get us back to where we need to be.
There is obviously a lot to be envious of in a professional footballer’s career but they can keep all that pre-season running and stretching nonsense, I’ll just take the wags, wonga and adulation thanks.
The Ox also expressed his sadness at Abou Diaby’s departure from the club, saying:
Abou’s a massive talent. He’s one of the best midfielders I’ve seen or even played with and, for a man of his stature and to be able to do some of the things he did with the ball, it was amazing to see at times.Unfortunately he had a really tough time with injuries and you’ve got to feel for him because he worked so hard. I’m sure a lot of players would have given up a long time before he has. He still hasn’t and he’s still working hard to get fit. A lot of players wouldn’t have been able to cope with the mental side and the disappointment of the injuries, so it just shows you what a professional he is and how much of a tough mentality he has. He’s a big character in our dressing room. Everyone respected him and his footballing ability that much that he was always part of the team at all times. It’s sad to see him go but I had a chat with him yesterday and the reasons why he wanted to leave and get himself right made complete sense to me. You’ve got to wish him all the the luck with that and I hope that he can get back to his best and push on with whatever he does. He is one of the best players I’ve played with, you’ve just got to hope that he can stay fit.
And Arsene Wenger echoed those sentiments when he spoke to Arsenal.com about his fellow Frenchman’s exit, saying he hopes that Diaby can carve out some semblance of a career before retirement.
It’s one of the saddest moments for us at Arsenal not to have had the opportunity to get the best out of Abou Diaby because of injury. I’m very sad because this boy is a massive and a huge talent. It’s sad as well because he didn’t deserve what he got. It’s sad as well because he’s a very serious player. He was always at home every night, prepared well every day and was not rewarded. I hope he will be rewarded somewhere else in the final years of his career. He was the closest to Patrick Vieira we have seen here, with even a good offensive potential. In France, he’s regarded highly because every time he played in the French national team he made a difference. It is very sad.
Before I burst into tears and go and find a compilation clip of Diaby at his best, I think I’ll leave it there for the day.
Back in a couple of minutes. I mean, on Saturday.