Arsenal fans got to watch Cesc Fabregas in action for the first time today as he joined the rest of his teammates at the Emirates for the annual Members Day training session.
There had been much speculation as to whether the Spaniard would be in attendance this afternoon with the speculation linking him with a move to Barcelona still in full force. Nevertheless, despite the furore over his future the club captain appeared to be in good spirits as he took part in a lengthy warm-up, short practice matches and shuttle runs before leaving the pitch to warm applause to sign autographs and smile for pictures. It remains to be seen whether he plays his first competitive minutes of the summer in Saturday’s friendly with Benfica in Portugal.
The Gunners were due to pose for their pre-season team photograph later in the day, but with torrential rain engulfing the North London area the club has taken the decision to postpone the shoot for two more weeks.
The adverse weather conditions seem to have played into Arsene Wenger’s hands with rumours abounding yesterday that two separate photographs would be taken; one with Fabregas in the captain’s position and another with the armband worn by potential replacement Robin van Persie.
A couple of unexpected faces were spotted at the stadium with Nicklas Bendtner selected to train with the first team despite being close to a move away from the club and new owner Stan Kroenke seen chatting in the tunnel area. Samir Nasri was in attendance but did not train (presumably due to a knock), Jack Wilshere was absent having had a scan on his Achilles, although Theo Walcott did take part, albeit alone, as he stepped up his recovery from injury.
Quizzed by legendary goalkeeper Bob Wilson at the end of the session, Arsene Wenger reflected on the high confidence in the camp while asking fans to keep believing his squad.
“We had a good preparation and good team bonding with our trip [to Asia]. Overall we are happy and confident. We were very close last year and we will give absolutely everything to do it this year,” said the Frenchman.
“We want the fans to be proud of the team. We are confident we will make them happy this season.”
Having completed what appeared to be an enjoyable work out for all involved, several players are now set to take part in supporter Q&A sessions in the Emirates press conference area.