Arsenal At Euro2012: Szczesny Stinker, Ars-havin A Laugh & RvP’s Dad Keeps Mum
Euro2012, Matchday 1
Poland 1 – 1 Greece
Russia 4 – 1 Czech Republic
Being hosts, Poland would have wanted the excellent start that they had. Greece were reeling, Lewandowski took his opportunity clincally. And then the Spanish referee intervened, proving incompetence is not the sole preserve of English officials (although Howard Webb tried hard to reclaim the prize later). Harsh as Papastathopoulos original booking was, his second was beyond laughable. It was beyond comprehension.
And then Szczesny intervened. Culpable for the Greek equaliser, the goalkeeper came and missed the cross; it was woeful, the youngster failed miserably to get anywhere near the ball and Salpingidis buried the chance. Szczesny probably wanted to clear his head following that; he never got the time. Salpingidis nudged the ball past the young Pole and Szczesny tripped him. No arguments, the Spanish referee got the decision spot on. Tyton proved a giant amongst goalkeepers by saving Karagounis’ spot-kick.
The second match of the day offered the chance to view two players who are deemed to be the attacking midfielder of choice in the absence of other options. Except Andrey Arshavin was here and left; Tomas Rosicky is here and his second half of the season performances were excellent. Rosicky was influential for his side in an open match; his passing was exemplary. As always the Czech’s were technically proficient on the ball but defensively, they were woeful with the left back betraying his Aboriginal heritage by going walkabout whilst the memories of Yuri Gagarin were revived as Russia continually exploited space.
Arshavin played well last night but there was such a level of revisionism that it beggared belief. PG called it correctly: where were these ‘fans’ when Arshavin was booed at The Emirates. Were these the same who defended him against the vitriol of his critics?
Blame was apportioned to the manager, shifted from the player’s shoulders. The role he played last night was the same as at Arsenal. Sometimes, just sometimes, you have to look at a player and know that he was in the wrong country. As talented as Arshavin is – and he is exceptionally talented – he lacked the consistency to become a success in the Premier League. In that sense he was hardly a failure but he did not live up to his abilities regularly enough to bridge the gap.
And conveniently, it is another stick with which to beat the club.
Not that one is needed since the circus surrounding Robin van Persie offers more potshots than a coconut shie. Having refused to tell the world the intimate details of the discussions at a meeting that he did not attend, Bob van Persie offered the opinion that his son would not be playing for another English club. Manchester City offloading Samir Nasri after a season (according to L’Equipe) will apparently not satisfy Robin if he could wrench himself from Arsenal. Actually it was rather more simple: he loves Arsenal and could not deal with any such treachery.
Barcelona was crossed off the shopping list because of Messi whilst Real Madrid are just pampered egotists. That sort of leaves a choice of Bayern Munich, an Italian club, PSG or returning to Feyenoord. A shortlist that just became shorter. And from this, we are informed this morning that he will not be signing a new contract. So in other words, we do not know anything new.
van Persie’s focus though is currently on his country’s campaign at Euro2012. Denmark are the sacrificial lambs at the Dutch altar with the chance for Nicklas Bendtner to observe close hand exactly what he will need to be a success in the Bundesliga, Huntelaar teaching the lessons. The Dane can also learn how to resurrect a career from his opposite number, how leaving a big club is not an impediment to finding the right environment in which to thrive.
Meanwhile, the growing German contingent at Arsenal may be on display in the match of the day as they take on Portugal. The quartet has been labelled The Group Of Death. The Dutch and Germans are favourites and I think it will be a major surprise if they do not qualify. Their recent records suggest that the Danes and Portuguese will be tricky but ultimately defeated opponents. It could be tight though and dropped points by either of the big two could be costly.
Denmark qualified ahead of Portugal but those group encounters will count for nought. When the two nations meet, the victors will be the dark horse to progress. Much will depend on Ronaldo; will it be an expansive tournament from theGalactico, benefitting the team or will it be one riven by hubris, wanting to promote personal glory ahead of the team reminiscent of the Champions League final at Wembley?