Guandong Sunray Cave 3
So our first warm up game of the season and warm was the operative word given the humidity in the stadium!
It was a rather strange game, not because of the result which incorrectly suggested that this match was tougher than we expected but because of the players we fielded. .Cole, Ngog, Poulsen and all played when one might have thought they would plying their trade elsewhere by now. Equally weird was the return of Alberto Aquilani. I for one had, incorrectly, assumed that he wouldn’t even visit England again let alone wear a red shirt or even go on tour! Nonetheless it is what it is and I guess there is still lots of business to conduct before the big kick off. Then again may be it was a reality check proving that, in some cases, the close season rumours were just that?
Of the players mentioned above I thought Cole was the pick of the bunch just like the beginning of last season he looked fit and up for it however it would be ridiculously premature to suggest that there is still a future for him with us on the strength of a game like this. The same applies to Aquilani who looked good when he came on however, one still can’t help feeling that this was no more than a farewell cameo.
Perhaps the most encouraging thing from this game, aside from youngsters such as Coady getting a run out was the return of Martin Kelly who has been injured since February. It was great to see him bombing about and suggesting that he will be a major force in the new season providing he stays injury free?
The result? Well given that we chopped and changed and were visibly taking large portions of the game easy … well you know you shouldn’t read anything into it. For the record our goals came from Poulsen after Joe Cole slung a cross over from the left. The Dane, despite being unmarked, did well to volley it home. The second came a few minutes later via Ngog who latched onto Shelvey’s ball through the centre to plant it into the bottom corner. Ricardo Steer pulled one back for the hosts just before the half time whistle.
As the game went on Kenny wheeled on more and more “big guns” which included new signing Charlie Adam as well as Maxi and Dirk Kuyt. We also saw the return of Andy Carroll and Daniel Agger suggesting that, along with Kelly, we will see more of them at the start of the season rather just reading medical updates. Carroll played a significant part in the remainder of our goals setting up the impressive Coady and combining with Maxi near the death to net himself. The cavemen replied through Lu Lin and Hongho in the dying seconds but at the end of the day it was the work out, rather than the result, that was important.
Meanwhile back home it seems that the Stuart Downing affair is fast reaching a conclusion after Villa accepted our latest offer believed to be around £20m and gave the player permission to talk to us. Presumably nothing will be done while we are on tour however, even though Downing has expressed a desire to join us, I am surprised that everything has crystallised so quickly. Am I alone in looking at this deal and seeing the soon to go Aquilani play last night and just feeling just a tad miffed?
Elsewhere we can wave goodbye to Paul Konchesky and his crabby, potty mouthed mother. Sven and Leicester are the “beneficiaries”. Presumably Konchesky will be the first of more to go, I suspect some were playing last night? When a player leaves I try to sum up their time with us what they did for us however, to be honest in the case of Mr Konchesky I really can’t remember much aside from his mother’s tweet and what I can remember wasn’t partcualty good so I’ll leave it at that!