As the season has drawn to an end, there is a distinct lack of Arsenal activity in transfers, in signings or in anything else remotely related to anything Arsenal. It’s my last day in Ibiza and I’ll be back in London town from tomorrow. So maybe Arsene and the rest of the gang are waiting for me to get back, for all we know, several big transfers could all be announced tomorrow. Somehow I doubt it.
There is only one thing we can really distract us from the perils of a Summer transfer window, and that is the Euros. As a Londoner, of course, England are my team. Having travelled to Germany for the World Cup in 2006 and South Africa in 2010, I won’t be making the tournament, instead opting for the big one in Brazil in 2014.
Obviously, as a Gooner, I’ll be keeping an eye out for all the Arsenal players. We’ve got a few players dotted around. But for me, I’m very interested in how Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade Chamberlain will fair. Both have had some game time under Roy Hodgson and both have shown a little of what they’re capable of. I don’t think Walcott will start as I think the manager will prefer Milner on the right – but in a little twist to the tournament, I think Oxlade may start on the left.
Without Rooney, there is an obvious lack of creativity in the team and Oxlade may just provide that spark. With the team diluted through injury and suspension, the first XI and the whole tournament could be made for someone who can offer a spark of creativity – a game changer. If we got back to the game against Manchester United at home last season – “The Ox” was simply irresistible.
Hodgson has made it clear that he likes the player, but is he worth the risk against such a strong team as France. The actual France game is a week away and a lot can happen from now until then, but if all remains the same, then I think we’ll see this line up for the game:
Johnson – Terry – Lescott – Cole
Parker – Gerrard
Milner – Young – Oxlade
It’s a strange one, considering Oxlade plays through the middle for us and Young plays on the left for Manchester United, but this is what has seemed to be the group of players who have gelled together.
Hodgson is a big admirer of Walcott and he’s made that clear in his press conferences so far, but has also stated that in the previous games for England and Arsenal, the majority of his best games have come as a substitute and I can’t really argue with that. Having someone like Milner do the hard slog and then someone like Walcott come on when the players are tired does make sense.
“The thing about Theo is that he has had quite a few chances in the team,” Hodgson said. “It seems to me that, quite often, his name will come up in these situations [when he has been used from the bench]. When he has started games it has been quite the opposite and people have said you need someone else in there. If I opt for Milner and it doesn’t go well, I should have played Walcott. If I opt for Walcott and it doesn’t go well, I should have played Milner. I am not trying to be clever. They are different types of player.”
There has been quite a furore around the non-selection of Rio Ferdinand, and whilst we may not really know the real reasons for his exclusions, part of what Hodgson is doing by selecting players like Phil Jones, Johnson, Kelly, Oxlade and Wellbeck is obviously planning for the future. Whether or not excluding Rio is part of that, or whether he genuinely thinks the aforementioned players can bring more to the squad than Ferdinand is unknown. However, the contradiction is hilarious considering Terry has gone, but maybe that is due to some experience being needed. Personally, for me, based on the last 2 months of the season, Rio would have gone. Whether he started or not is debatable, but the squad would have been stronger for it. I don’t blame Roy for this, I’m sure he’s been told by the FA what he can and can’t do. It will be interesting to see what would happen if Terry got injured.
It will be an interesting tournament for sure and it’s definitely a transition period. It may be very profitable in the future when these crop of players have a tournament under their belt. There are a few surprises for me in the selection of the group – I honestly thought we’d see Adam Johnson included – although not a massive amount of game time, every time he has come on he has looked very lively. Micah Richards has also had a very good season, but has never really made it at country level. I suspect had he not refused to be on the standby list then he would have been included in the squad considering the injuries to Barry and Cahill.
Back to all things Arsenal and focus will most likely turn to the Q&A session with Ivan Gazidis this Wednesday. It will be an interesting meeting, considering the season we’ve just had and the position we found ourselves last summer with the transfer window. Gazidis promised more Summer signings and January signings too and also promised that the RvP situation wouldn’t get this stage. There will be some very angry Arsenal fans and some very worried Arsenal fans at the Q&A. I won’t be able to make it myself, but WOA writer JAT will be there in full force representing so I will be on twitter retweet mode all evening…
All that is left to say is enjoy the bank holiday weekend and Golden Jubilee and let’s hope I’ve brought back some sun from Ibiza.