In many ways 1979's short summary of the Emirates Cup is all that need to be said about the pre-season friendly tournament, in which we used 21 players I think. Its a nice little run-out for the players and the fact that 110,000 tickets were sold over the two days is a nice little earner for the clubs involved.
But its bad measure to try and guage how the squad is looking. The biggest surprise, for me, was the inclusion of Eboue in the squad on both days, as his transfer to Fiorentina looked a done deal last week. Clearly not. Similarly, the absence of Senderos looks telling and the ink will soon be dry on his move to Everton.
And that does put a slight change of perspective on things. Last week's squad looked relatively strong, but on the assumption that Eboue was off, we look a bit light of cover at right back. In contrast, we have an abundance of lefties at the club now. That said, Gibbs did not play at all over the weekend, whereas Traore played in both games and did quite well. Now, if we were going to let Traore go out on loan again this season, why not give Gibbs some more match practice and let Traore sit on the bench? So maybe Traore isn't going anywhere...
The absence of Big Phil also means we will shift from having 4 decent (Gallas, Vermaelen, Djourou + Big Phil) centre backs (plus Sylvestre), to 3 plus Sylvestre. And thats a much more flimsy prospect. Its not that if Gallas and Vermaelen were both injured we would be saying, "well thank the lord, cos Big Phil will now be able to play and he's amazing". Its just that Big Phil has a bit of experience and so long as he was not facing Drogba often did ok. That said, its more than understandable from his perspective to want first team football and I will him all the best at Everton.
The idea of replacing Big Phil with another centre back is also unlikely, in my book. The job description at the Footballers JobCentre would read: "Wanted - 4th choice centre back to play occassionnally for top 4 Premier league club. Must be quite ugly and slow. Ideal applicant will understand that the manager will prefer to play an uglier, older frenchman who looks like a fish. Salary outrageous given that you will play 15 matches a year".
It has been suggested that signing someone like David Wheater might make sense, and he certainly fits the bill of being a Big Phil clone, which rather begs the question of whether David Wheater is a better Big Phil than Big Phil? If not, then why get someone who is worse at being Big Phil than Big Phil? I would prefer to simply stick with the Big Phil we have. He seemed pretty good at being Big Phil. I also think David Wheater is shite.
But, the inevitable conclusion of all this drivel is probably that Alex Song will continue to be used as a makeshift centre back if needed. There is a well trodden path here and Wenger often played Gilberto at centre back in European games, where the aerial threat is far less deployed, as is the neanderthal midfieder like Sean Davies, Joey Barton or Kevin Nolan.
If we are in the situation where Gallas and Vermaelen are both injured for a considerable period of time, then we are in a world of problems anyway. I see no absolute reason why Djourou and Syvestre could not play if needed on the rare occassion, and if absolutely required, then Song can obviously play there too.
So I don't think that the departure of Big Phil means we are now short at centre back. Or not short enough to go and waste some money on a new 4th choice.
But having reflected on it over the weekend, I have decided to through my hat in the ring and join the chorus of approval for the idea of re-signing Patrick Vieira.
To my mind, it makes virtually no sense for us from a footballing perspective. He is 33 years old, almost permanently injured and his best years are way behind him. But if we can pick him up on a free transfer, then the £6m quid or so a year he would demand in wages would seem chump change when you consider the possibility of Patrick Vieira walking in an Arsenal shirt out to face ManUre at Old Trafford on 29 August.
Paddy would obviously refuse to wear any of the current away strips, which are all truly awful, so we would have to wear the gold shirts of circa 2002 to mark the occassion.
The fans would love it, the press would love it, I expect even most of the players would love it. So go on Arsene. Just do it.