As England lose in the Euros QF, attention goes back to Arsenal…

England’s tenure in the Euro 2012 Championships has come to an end. For the first time in many years, fans understood the limits of the team and understood that an exit at this stage was the fair and correct result. Even through we lost on penalties, it is clear that we were outclassed by the Italians. They had 35 shots compared to our 9.

There has been an extra-ordinary amount of praise towards Pirlo this morning, and whilst I can understand that he is given such accolades from the team, in reality, the deficiencies of the England team are to blame. I’ve been a fan of what I’ve seen from Hodgson. Defensively and tactically, we’ve been a better team than under previous managers. He seems to have understood what we’ve got and played to our strengths – or in another word or two – not played to our weaknesses.

Personally, I think Hodgson made two mistakes against Italy by choosing Wellbeck and Young. For me, Ashley Young has been one of our worst players in the tournament. Against an Italian side where we needed a spark, the Ox should have started and he would have really given the Italians a torrid time. And secondly, Wellbeck offered nothing, and Carroll’s such a threat in the air and around the box, that he would have also really tested the Italians in ways that would have made them uncomfortable.

Hey ho, the dream is over. Bring on Brazil 2014 and perhaps the midfield will contain both Arsenal flying wingers, Theo & Ox and the maestro himself in Jack Wilshere. By then Kieran Gibbs will have superceded Ashley Cole and hopefully he’ll be able to score a pen or two…

Theo reflected on the team and had quite a bit to say… here is a little bit of it…

 “There are a lot of young players who gained good experience, me being one of them. Going into the next tournament, we will be better and there are loads more players who can get into this team as well. It is most important we have a rest now because it has been a long season for everyone. I thank everyone involved and I have enjoyed every minute of it. In a short amount of time, the way Roy [Hodgson] got his team to play was great at times to watch. We are only going to be better players coming into the qualification matches because we will learn more, we will play teams that aren’t as good as the teams we have played in this competition. Everyone is down and it is a cruel way to go out. With penalties, it’s a flip of a coin. It’s a shame we didn’t do it for the fans because they were fantastic, while everyone back home showing their support means a lot. It is just luck the way you go out on penalties. “Everyone needs their head raised up high because it has been a good tournament. We had the late arrival with the manager but it worked well. Our luck ran out in the end.”

As expected, since the Euro’s are now over for the nation, despite some mouth-watering semi’s in store… all attention should and will fall on the transfer window.

Down at the Arsenal, all talk is about French International, Olivier Giroud… who spoke about his move to Arsenal:

“I am so happy to be signing for Arsenal – it is something that represents so much for me. I’ve always dreamed of playing in the Premier League and Arsenal are a great club with many French players.”

His record in France last season (in 36 games) was…

  • 135 shots
  • 70 shots on target
  • 21 goals

He seems like quite the poacher…

I’d expect to ramp up the transfers now, with RvP revealing his plans – whether he is going to stay or go. Arsene to sign M’Vila, and Walcott to sign a new contract… with Chamakh, Bendtner, Vela & Denilson still on the books and in the transfer window, there should be quite some activity in the net week or two…

Signings, Signings and More Signings Please… (And Fixtures)

Evening All…

Well, it has been an interesting Euro 2012 tournament so far, hasn’t it? With Holland crashing out with 0 points and both Poland and Russia falling at the first hurdle. The Arsenal players have taken the Euro limelight with Podolski scoring his 44th International goal on his 100th cap, whilst Bendtner was also on the scoresheet as the Danes crashed out. The latter has been fined and suspended for one game for advertising on his shorts. Of course, Robin Van Persie has been on the scoresheet in what hasn’t been his finest tournament… In his native Holland, the Arsenal skipper has been slated, but in all fairness, he’s play more games in the last 12 months than the former 2 years. Time for the Dutchman to get some rest…

But who is the Arsenal player that everyone is talking about… yep, it’s Theo Walcott. And he’s been impressive in his turn around of the Sweden game, scoring a cracker and getting an assist too, to help England come from 2-1 down to win the game 3-2. Whereas a lot of people are talking about Theo starting, I am still a big fan of him from the bench. I like to see Theo further up the pitch than you need a traditional left winger in a 4-4-2 do – and when Milner starts, he plays in that disciplined role which is wasted on Theo. Theo comes on when players are tiring and his qualities shine through.

The lad had a tight hamstring after the Sweden game, but news filtering in tonight is that he has recovered from that and is available for selection tomorrow night…

Arsene, after years of watching him try, it looks like Theo Walcott is finally coming of age. After RvP, surely he has to be the next signing?

And talking of signings, the press have yet again once confirmed that we have signed and / or are close to signing Olivier Giroud. The Daily Mail insisted last week that we’d signed him, and the BBC followed suit at the latter part of last week, and today Sky Sports joined in.

Interesting fact – Giroud, Podolski and Van Persie scored a combine 109 goals last season. That’s what we may have at the Emirates next season… mouth watering, hey?

Now time for a look at our fixtures for season 2012 / 2013… We kick off the season with 6 hard games – very much like last season, we’re not given an easy start at all. Our first game is at home to Sunderland and with Martin O’Neal at the helm, you can never take anything for granted. We then go on a difficult away run – Stoke, Liverpool and Man City – with a rest bite of Southampton at home before the City game… and then just to finish it off, we entertain Chelsea at home.

Now that is a tough start. Hopefully this time round we’ll have our signings sorted by the end of July and raring to go in August… It’s time to go to sleep for me… it’s been a long journey from New York and after 10 hours in the office means a very tired Dev…

The Euro’s, a welcome distraction?

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:

Hart

Johnson – Terry – Lescott – Cole

Parker – Gerrard

Milner – Young – Oxlade

Wellbeck

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.

Til tomorrow.