Arsenal have announced the 24 players that are on the plane to Asia for this week's friendlies against Malaysia XI, defending Premier League champions Manchester City, and Kitchee FC. Striker Robin van Persie, subject of some transfer speculation you may or may not have heard about, is not one of them, for fitness reasons. As manager Arsene Wenger explains:
"The German players [Podolski and Mertesacker] are just back in training on Saturday so they will be late. Some players have to work on their fitness so are a bit behind, like Van Persie, like Koscielny, like Giroud, who came in later. They are not ready to play games.
..."Some players like Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain, they travel. Song, Diaby, Vermaelen, Santos, Gibbs, Szczesny, they will all travel. So will Gervinho - we have a very strong team out there. Rosicky is injured. Apart from that I think everybody travels."
So, somehow Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain have enough fitness to travel, but Robin van Persie does not, nor do the French and German contingents. The fact that player from the English squad, who played deeper into Euro 2012 than The Netherlands, have enough fitness to travel, but Robin van Persie does not, tells you about all you need to know. If van Persie doesn't have enough fitness to travel, he shouldn't, but it's hard to separate that piece of news from the three bids reportedly lodged for the player yesterday.
The squad for Asia is as follows:
GK: Wojciech Szczesny, Lukasz Fabianski, Vito Mannone
DF: Miquel Ignasi, Nico Yennaris, Kieran Gibbs, Carl Jenkinson, Johan Djourou, Thomas Vermaelen, Andre Santos, Kyle Bartley
MF: Thomas Eisfeld, Craig Eastmond, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Francis Coquelin, Alex Song, Chuks Aneke, Abou Diaby, Mikel Arteta
FW: Marouane Chamakh, Ryo Miyaichi, Theo Walcott, Benik Afobe, Gervinho