Arsenal’s first Washington, D.C. training session is in the books. The Gunners practiced today on George Mason’s campus in Northern Virginia. It’s important to point out that the club are in Virginia because some of us in the D.C. area are persnickety about distinguishing between Maryland, Virginia, and the District proper.
Bit of fun for the Arsenal players at open training pic.twitter.com/mCjjNCp37e— Jordan Campbell (@JordanC1107) July 17, 2023
New signing Declan Rice did not participate in the on-field work. Instead he rode the exercise bike on the sidelines with Eddie Nketiah, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Takehiro Tomiyasu, Gabriel Martinelli, and Mohamed Elneny. Reporters were quick to point out that Rice is fine, i.e. not injured even though he’s on the sidelines with the guys rehabbing. The plan is to ensure he’s at full fitness because he joined preseason late. Hopefully he’s fit enough to make his first appearance in Arsenal colors on Wednesday night with yours truly in attendance.
Mikel Arteta met with the assembled media before training. He described Rice as the “lighthouse” that will help guide Arsenal back to a Premier League title. Arteta also said that the club may not be done in the transfer market saying, “there’s still a lot of time left in the market...we’ll have to see how things develop in the next couple of weeks. We will be alert, there’s still time to do things, there’s still time for exits as well, obviously, so I’m sure things will move.”
Arteta spoke specifically about Folarin Balogun, “We have to think about what is best to do. We want to see him, we want to experience him in the next few games, he played the last game against Nuremberg and he will do so again in the next few games, then we’ll make the best decision.”
I hope the club has tourist-y things set up for the players around D.C. later today. I’m hopefully anticipating pictures of my guys visiting my city. Segway tours have been popular with sports teams in the past.
A few more odds and ends:
- Reiss Nelson didn’t travel with the team because the toe injury he picked up against FC Nurnberg required stitches. He’s expected to be available for the August 2nd preseason match. Given Nelson’s history with soft tissue injuries, it’s good news that his current ailment is a superficial one.
- Martin Ødegaard was a full participant in training, none the worse for wear after his warmup knock before the Nurnberg match.
- A number of Arsenal fans showed up to training only to find that it was closed to the public. They did their best to watch from a distance despite the efforts of GMU campus security to keep them away from the field.
- Burnley reportedly want a permanent transfer for Sambi Lokonga rather than a loan, according to James McNicholas. Sidenote: I’d recommend watching that full video and James’ stuff on YouTube about how transfers work, in general. It’s great info.
- A midtable Saudi club sounded out Nicolas Pepe last week per James Benge, but the two sides are pretty far apart on salary expectations. Arsenal reportedly would accept a nominal fee or even terminate his contract to get his weekly wages off the books.
- The MLS All-Star team practiced at American University. D.C.-based soccer journalist Charles Boehm with the deep cut local soccer history story:
MLS All-Star training at American University's Reeves Field this morning.— Charles Boehm (@cboehm) July 17, 2023
(Old heads may remember this as the site of Hristo Stoichkov snapping the leg of AU frosh Freddy Llerena in a red-mist tackle in a 2003 DC United preseason game, setting off years of litigation etc.) pic.twitter.com/K1crbo02W4
I’ll continue to update this post as more Arsenal in D.C. stuff filters out. Because I posted “out of curiosity, I wonder where Arsenal are staying” earlier today, I now know what hotel the club is using. I think I’ll keep that to myself, however, because the DMs I received said they were loading the players onto the busses out a side door and trying to avoid publicity.
So that you don't have to zoom in, it says:— The Short Fuse (@TheShortFuse) July 17, 2023
def: bringer of happiness
That's the garage at Nationals Park, which is right near Audi Field, where #Arsenal play on Wednesday night. https://t.co/cTr7ukhTwG
Bukayo Saka out and about in D.C. at the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial.— Aaron Lerner: new year, same me (@AaronCLerner) July 17, 2023
On his Instagram story. pic.twitter.com/hYtwf6aCxV
Aaron Ramsdale doing the "finger on top" picture with the Washington Monument— Aaron Lerner: new year, same me (@AaronCLerner) July 17, 2023
From Rob Holding's Instagram story.https://t.co/d4tvDvSRN8
Plenty of eyes will be on Audi Field when the MLS All-Star game kicks off on Wednesday, as the MLS squad faces Arsenal.@Gio_Delfa has more on Arsenal's practice at George Mason, and the teams joining forces with DC United for a big day at a local school@nbcwashington pic.twitter.com/jOLV4WHIjv— NBC4 Sports (@NBC4Sports) July 17, 2023