After my scribbles last week outlining my greater than usual interest in England’s games, due to a combination of the involvement of Gibbs, interest in how Wilshere would be employed, strong opposition and meaningful fixtures. As it turned out, only the importance of the games and the expectation of Polish Vodka were fulfilled, with England changing tactics, and the opposition not having a great deal to play for.
That said, I still enjoyed the games far more than anticipated, and have to say uncle Roy got his tactics spot on, even if the result of this is likely to be less involvement for the Arsenal contingent in the national team’s first 11. It’s nice to see an England manager finally work out what anyone watching Manchester United regularly can tell you; that to get the best of Rooney you need to surround him with players who are quick and direct, and want to run towards goal. He’s as good a number 10 as this country has produced in my lifetime, and has often been poorly utilised as a centre-forward or alongside old-fashioned target men.
It was also nice to be reminded what happens when England play an attacking formation and play with some ambition. They could have easily scored twice as many with slightly better finishing, and I will happily take a bit more defensive vulnerability if it means the team is going to play attacking football. It certainly makes a change from the dull, turgid stuff that has characterised much of the last decade.
Hats off to the boss for picking Townsend, who looks every inch Gareth Bale-lite. Whether he can maintain his start of the season form, remains to be seen, but it seems the lot down the road may have a good one, and unusually for Spurs, from the club’s youth set up.
Of course, things being what they are, Jack has stayed in the news, having been somewhat trapped into making potentially controversial comments about the adopting of foreign nationals for the England football team. This is a much, much larger debate that now is not the time for, but let’s just say that I fundamentally disagree with quotas, I support the nationalisation in sporting terms of those eligible for passport, whether by birth, ancestry or time of residency. That said, I think there is only marginally more chance of Man Utd’s new Belgian wonderkid playing for England than there is of my ending up as Dr. Who or James Bond. Why the hell would he wait 5 years when he has the chance to be a part of the best crop of footballers Belgium has ever produced?
What about the rest?
Elsewhere, Giroud scored twice for France against Australia, including a beautifully executed chip, and then forced an own goal by Finland’s defence with a towering header. Ozil scored two in two for Germany playing in the ‘false-9′ position, Bendtner scored two great headers against Italy (before getting himself suspended for the next match celebrating – Missing the chance to fill his boots against Malta). Ramsey was voted man of the match in both Wales’s fixtures, and made up for missing a penalty in the first game, but scoring impressively against Belgium. Szczesny played well against England in a losing effort, Vermaelen got some useful match time for Belgium,
In less reported news, on-loan mystery man Joel Campbell has something to celebrate with Costa Rica having qualified for the World Cup. Campbell still seems very raw, and the chances of him having a significant involvement back in North London seem slim, but with a full season at Olympiacos representing another step up, the 28 cap winger-cum-striker will have a chance to make a splash on the big stage next summer. Which is good news for Arsenal, whether he is a potential future player for us or an asset to be sold.
As football’s attention returns back to domestic fixtures, Arsenal set their sights on Norwich City, with unusually positive news from the interlull. Thankfully, Ozil, Ramsey, Szczesny and Koscielny all appear to have recovered quickly from minor knocks. The Daily Express also tells us that Santi Cazorla and Theo Walcott are back in contention for the weekend, giving us much needed options out wide. Hopefully their return will see either Ramsey, Wilshere or both return to central positions. Also it presents the mouth watering prospect of seeing both Ozil and Cazorla on the pitch at the same time, or as someone has dubbed it, the birth of the Cazozila…
The window beckons once more…
Of course, now the internationals are out of the way for a while (apart from play-off fixtures), transfer stories for January are back in full swing, with some news outlets desperate to interpret Real Madrid’s interest in Falcao as making Benzema to Arsenal inevitable. Given that Madrid tend to avoid January transfer business, and Arsenal’s need for a striker is likely to prove more urgent, my suspicion is that Arsene’s eyes will be casting elsewhere.
There are also links to numerous replacements for Sagna, who is apparently simultaneously discussing a new deal and determined to leave. None of the players linked seem particularly likely. More pleasingly there have also been linked to the looming free agent Robert Lewandowski, who everyone had assumed was going to Bayern in the summer.
Apparently Park Chu-Young may be on the cards to join Wigan on loan, but there as some sticking points as to wages (surprise, surprise). I hope it happens, as his signing may have smacked of desperation, but his ostracising has been bizarre and has pretty much knackered his career.
The only other news of note from an Arsenal perspective has been current 4th choice keeper Damian Martinez going on loan to Sheffield Wednesday, essentially to be Chris Kirkland’s back up for a month. I always felt sorry for Kirkland. At 21 he was as good a young keeper as this country has produced in a long while, but his endless injury problems stunted his progress and damaged his confidence, and he’s probably worse now than he was then.
As a final thought, here is another brief extract from the Gospel according to Dennis…
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