The Chronicles of Charsenal are back! Remember, this a fictitious account based on the video game Football Manager 2012. If you're not into that, or the thought of a Arsenal-Chelsea merger horrifies you, you don't have to read it. If you're just going leave negative comments, please don't. You're not going to change our minds, and you risk the laser.
[NB: I have adjusted the title from episodes to chapters, and the numbering has been changed to make The Chronicles of Charsenal: Episodes 1 & 2 now The Chronicles of Charsenal: Prologue and Chapter One respectively. The posts will keep their original titles, though all future posts will reflect the change.]
Chapter Two: 15 July – 03 August 2011
After a turbulent first two weeks in charge of new club Charsenal, which saw no fewer than six players depart and less-than-stellar results in the three friendly matches for which he was in control, Alexander Singer has started to get a handle on the realities of life at Regent's Park. In the coming six weeks, he will lead Charsenal through the final stages of their preseason. This includes a tour of the United States, with matches against American clubs Portland Timbers, D.C. United, Real Salt Lake, and the Colorado Rapids. There will also be a friendly against Brazilian club Corinthians.
On Monday, the 18th, Singer got his first piece of bad news, that of a wrist injury to defender Laurent Koscielny during a weight training session. Though he isn't thought to feature highly in the young manager's plans, Singer will take some comfort from the fact that the injury will only rule out Koscielny for seven to ten days. The manager also received confirmation that Charsenal goalkeeper Ross Turnbull will join local rival Fulham on loan, who will pay 80% of his wages. The Cottagers also have the option to make move permanent at any time. The following day, Charsenal's greatest rival, Tottenham, completed the astonishing signing of U.S. international Landon Donovan.
On Thursday, the 21st, Charsenal played the first friendly of their tour of the United States against Portland Timbers. The attendance was 17,824 The match started well for Charsenal, with striker Fernando Torres scoring off the post after just two minutes. Charsenal looked comfortable, yet lost their lead on twenty minutes when Kieran Gibbs put the ball past keeper Wojciech Szczesny. Despite the setback, Charsenal maintained control of the game, despite going into the break level with Portland. Shortly after the break, half-time substitute and eventual man of the match Tomas Rosicky put Charsenal into a lead they would never relinquish. Minutes later, Alex Song sealed the win with a close-range header. Charsenal's men of the match were Rosicky, Song, Bacary Sagna, and Torres.
To finish the week, Charsenal's U.S. Tour came to RFK Stadium, where the Londoners took on D.C. United in a friendly in front of nearly 20,000 spectators. It was a fairly straightforward performance for Charsenal, who walked out comfortable 2-0 winners. D.C. United failed to provide much of a threat to Petr Cech's goal, and the Czech duly preserved a clean sheet. The man of the match, however, was easily Charsenal vice-captain Robin van Persie, who scored an easy finish in the 33rd minute, and added another twenty minutes later. Unfortunately, he wasn't able to complete his hat-trick before tired legs forced him off on 67 minutes.
The curse of the Charsenal weight room has struck again, this time sidelining young midfielder Emmanuel Frimpong with a wrist injury similar to that sustained by Laurent Koscielny. It came as bad news for Frimpong, who had been expected to play a small part in Charsenal's friendly with MLS club Real Salt Lake. The friendly, which took place the following day in front of 19,000 fans at RSL's Rio Tinto Stadium, was ultimately a disappointment for Charsenal. RSL were resolute in front of goal, allowing just three shots on target. Try as they might, the Londoners struggled to find any creative opening in the first half. After the break, their attacking struggles continued until the 63rd minute when transfer-listed striker Andrey Arshavin scored a wonder goal from the edge of the area. The spectacular goal, which came from nothing, earned the Russian the Man of the Match award. Unfortunately for fans of the Regent's Park club, though, the attack was no more effective following the goal than prior to it. Charsenal did look to be heading for a respectable 1-0 victory when Real Salt Lake defender Nat Borchers sprang up in the box to head home in the 83rd minute. It was the home side's only shot on target. In the end, though the 1-1 draw was disappointing for fans of the away side, it was understandable, and many left the stadium feeling that their team was unlucky, rather than poor.
In the week following the draw with Real Salt Lake, the Charsenal manager was required to submit the 25-man Premier League squad list. There were few surprises, the biggest being the exclusions of winger Florent Malouda and defender Per Mertesacker, both of whom are expected to leave the club in the near future. Other Charsenal business included the departure, on six month loans, of young goalkeepers Jamal Blackman and Ben Gordon to League 1 clubs Yeovil and Oldham, respectively, Singer assigning the team squad numbers for the upcoming season, and the club announcing the sale of 48,000 season tickets, which is a similar total to that predicted by analysts at the start of the season.
In their final match of July, Charsenal again squeaked past their opposition, this time Brazilian club Corinthians. With the team generally failing to impress, and wasting several good chances, Charsenal had to to make do with just an early penalty, which was converted, perhaps surprisingly, by left back Ashley Cole. The goalwas enough to assure Cole went away with the Man of the Match award, though, perhaps, by default, as no other Charsenal player did well enough to deserve it more.
To begin the month of August, Charsenal announced that youngsters Billy Clifford and Sanchez Watt would be joining League 1 sides Walsall and Charlton on five-month loan deals, where they're expected to get plenty of first-team action. The next night, in front of 17,000 fans against Colorado Rapids, Charsenal completed both their United States tour and their pre-season with a flourish. They walked out deserving 2-0 winners in a match they dominated. In the first fifteen minutes, Charsenal won a penalty which was converted by young striker Romelu Lukaku. Man of the Match Robin van Persie ended the scoring in the 33rd minute, with a fine strike from twenty yards. Colorado never really looked a threat to Petr Cech's goal, being held to just four shots all night, only one of which was on target. Charsenal have wrapped up their pre-season schedule with six wins and two draws. Despite getting the results, Charsenal weren't always comfortable in the pre-season games, several times just eking out a result. They will now have time off for the international break, before beginning their league campaign for the 2011-12 season away to Liverpool.
[As a treat to make up for not posting last week, I'll post Chapter Three before next Thursday, when you'll get Chapter Four. The question is: Would you prefer it tomorrow with the pre-match stuff, or would you prefer Monday, after everything has settled down again?]