World Cup Round-Up With No Free Spirits & Ramsey
This World Cup may yet prove to be a problem for Wenger although France’s exit has reduced his psychological workload by one. For whilst he has to lift Abou Diaby, Gael Clichy and Bacary Sagna – we’ll assume Gallas is someone else’s problem – Samir Nasri will feel a whole lot better for missing out on the French debacle, his spirits lifted as he realises the great escape he had from Domenech’s lunacy.
The manager capped it off by apparently blaming Carlos Alberto Perreira for the red card shown to Gorcuff in the first half, refusing to shake his hand at the final whistle. That image is going to be the lasting one of his reign, the ignominy of this World Cup exit on a par with that in South Korea / Japan 2002. Perhaps this was worse for the strike which took place.
The goals conceded by France were symptomatic of their problems this summer. Hugo Lloris knocked about €10m off his price tag with an absolute gem of a howler in totally missing the cross for the South Africans first whilst the whole of the French back four will never want to see the second again. Ever. Not even to see what went wrong.
The South Africans were left to rue wayward finishing in the second half, chances squandered that would have rendered Malouda’s consolation goal irrelevant. They became the first hosts to exit at the group phase, a not unexpected outcome given the nations they were drawn with although that is of scant comfort to their supporters.
Their regrets may well match those of the Nigerians. Yakubu’s miss is horrendous, perhaps getting worse every time you see it, and proved to be extraordinarily costly. Had he scored and the match finished 3 – 2, they would be looking forward to facing Uruguay in the Round of 16, instead of packing their cases for summer holidays to begin.
Greece were true to type with a dour display, creating sporadic danger but lacking conviction. Otto, the seventh Marx brother, at one point waved his team forward, realised that he was confused over the direction they were attacking and waved them all back again. All he needed was a greasepaint moustache and eyebrows, cigar to hand, for the episode to be complete.
Whilst this has dominated the World Cup, the English laughter at France’s discomfort may yet prove hollow. So desperate are the FA for England to progress that they have given the team an all-red kit to wear, one that the Daily Mail took great delight in telling the world, England have never lost in. Well, except the home defeat to Brazil before Euro96 but you see, that did not count because it was ‘wine’ colour – dark red to you and me – and it had a blue collar. Well, that’s alright then.
Arsene observed that England need to express themselves to gain the required win tonight:
I think England at the moment is not at their best but they still should go through. They looked inhibited against Algeria and they played against a team that tried to defend very well. I don’t know if they peaked in qualifying and certainly they need to play with a little bit more freedom. But any team who does well at the World Cup, none of them peaks in the group stage.
The Sun reckons he was demanding they would play with ‘free spirit‘. Sadly for this nation, the only free spirit English players are interested in is the one that comes as a freebie in their local bar. There has been enough shame dumped on football by drunken antics of members of this squad for Arsene to know better than that.
The team I would put out is:
James; Johnson, Dawson, Terry, A Cole; Barry; Lampard, Gerrard, J Cole; Rooney, Defoe
There is no place for either of the ‘lumps’ up front nor for the failed wide men of Lennon and Wright-Phillips. Dawson has had a better season than Upson with Ferdinand and King’s absences keeping Terry in the team.
This World Cup is reminiscent of 1990; two turgid draws following by an equally turgid win in the final group match. I’d settle for that this afternoon just to get the group phase out of the way. A rousing performance and handsome win would go down equally well, and be preferrable, but qualification is all that matters right now.
Their potential opponents in the second round will be known this evening in the tightest of the groups. Any two of the four in Group D can qualify. Australia may need to wipe the floor with Serbia to retrieve the goal difference deficit but potentially they can go through.
Their cause may be aided by a comfortable German win over Ghana but even that cannot be taken for granted. Ghana has performed most admirably of the African nations, although their lack of finishing may yet prove costly. I suspect that when the final whistle goes, Germany and Serbia will occupy the top two places.
Nicklas Bendtner will be ‘distraught’ if Denmark fail to beat Japan, a result which should happen and give them the runners-up spot in their group, a second round place against Paraguay is not the toughest of matches for either side at this point in the competition with potential quarter-finalists being Chile or Portugal. The route to the final on this side of the draw appears less arduous.
Aaron Ramsey provides the only Arsenal news worth talking of this morning with Dean Saunders telling the world that he has started running again. Ramsey that is, not Saunders, with only the pin in his leg to be removed. That would seemingly put him on course for an Autumnal return to the first team squad which can only be considered good news. Oh, and despite ‘Appy ‘Arry’s insistence, it seems Joe Cole is not going to Manchester United. Which must have dampened ‘Arry’s spirits somewhat.
Which is a good way to end a post: Tottenham upset with Arsenal having good news. Now, C’mon England to finish the day on a high.