Arsenal At Euro2012: Unleash The Ox

Group C

Spain  1 – 1 Italy
Ireland   –   Croatia

Euro2012 continued apace with Spain and Italian XIs fighting out a point, continuing the jinx held over the reigning World and European champions; they have never beaten the Italians in 90 or 120 minutes in a competitive fixture. The Italians were far better than many expected and will be disappointed not to have finished with a win. Both nations possess immensely talented forwards; Balotelli and Torres missed chances that men of their ‘reputation’ should score in their sleep.

Equally Spain will believe they should have won. Despite scoring, Fabregas missed the sort of chance in the first half that he would previously have scored in his sleep. The telling contributions came from the goalkeepers, Casillas and Buffon made amends for the apparent decline in abilities shown in the previous four matches in the tournament; both produced outstanding saves at times when they had little to do. Shay Given must have looked on in envy following his own display; suffice to say, he will be itching to forget his part in Ireland’s defeat. By the same token, he will be wary of the upcoming fixtures in which he will be considerably busier. Croatia meanwhile will prove a difficult but not insurmountable obstacle for Italy and Spain with the required technical ability to punish mistakes. And they will need to punish them as their own defence showed some discomfort against an ordinary Irish attack.

And so to England and France, the fixture which could have the most Arsenal-related interest. It seems that Laurent Koscielny is likely to be on the bench for the French as Laurent Blanc proves conservative in his approach. As much as Philippe Mexes’ form is declining, he looks like retaining his place inLes Bleus starting line-up. Mexes has been less than impressive on the half-dozen occasions I have seen him this season and it is surprising that Blanc has kept his faith in him. But he has and Koscielny must wait.

Which benefits England but that advantage will be tempered by Roy Hodgson’s natural inclination toward making England difficult to beat. There are many parallels between now and the Euro2004 meeting between the two sides. France were coming into the tournament on the back of a poor World Cup display but were favourites to overcome an England side which was strong but not exceptional; the self-proclaimed Golden Generation discovering that it was FeS2 not Au.

That game did not go to plan with England close to winning; don’t forget that holding a single goal advantage, David Beckham missed a penalty. By the time of the final whistle, Zinedine Zidane was not the only one feeling sick.  France were unnerved by a brash 18 year-old talent although Wayne Rooney had more experience than Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain did at this point in his career. Rooney showed little fear of the technically superior French side or of the centre-backs with great reputations. England need a repeat of that today and Oxlade-Chamberlain could provide it.

The defence that Hodgson picks will most likely be the best he has available; alas that includes John Terry and his lack of pace is a real concern. The Dutch though highlighted the folly of being too defensively-minded and the Danes offered the template for Hodgson’s midfield: they employed genuine wide players either side of Gerrard and Parker. James Milner seems to be preferred ahead of Theo Walcott and I think that a mistake; his final delivery is no better than Theo’s and chosing him can only be for defensive work-rate. That leaves the attacking threat diminished.

Playing Walcott on the right and Ashley Young on the left situates them in their natural positions. Playing the ‘False 9’ role has provided positives in the last two matches for England but Young is effective for United on the left. Oxlade-Chamberlain in the advanced central role makes sense in two ways. Firstly he is not scared to take people on, forcing defenders onto the back foot and cause problems. Secondly, he proved in his starts for Arsenal and against Belgium for the national team, that he has defensive awareness; he tracks back which is more than can be said for Young.

It would be a brave decision for Hodgson to make and I don’t think he will go with that attacking a line-up. It would be no surprise to see the helpless Milner on the right accompanied by the hapless Downing on the left. May God have mercy on the soul of the England team in that instance.

For Hodgson, he is on a hiding to nothing. I think it might have been Revie’s England where expectations were last this low; it makes a change for them not to be overhyped prior to a tournament. This month’s When Saturday Comes underlines that with the bubble proclaiming “At least we’ll do better than Euro2008“.

Prediction:

1. France

2. England

3. Sweden

4. Ukraine

’til Tomorrow.

Posted on June 11, 2012, in Arsenal, England, Euro2012, Football, Soccer and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 184 Comments.

  1. pedantic george

    I think England will get spanked

  2. Too many of them would enjoy that I’d wager. Oh you mean, they’ll lose. Ah, sorry. If he plays Milner and Downing, it’s a case of how many France score.

  3. The Real Stew Black

    I have to agree with George and Yogi. Although I think the spanking will be one of technical superiority all over the pitch rather than goals. Whatever one thinks of a manager who could consider Milner and Downing over Theo and The Ox, Roy has looked at what he has and decided what he must do. He needs to pick unadventurous defence minded conservative players in order to play a tight defensive game and hope for a nicked goal on the break.

  4. Nice little periodic link about fools there YW

  5. You’re right there Stew, conservatism will win out in the England lineup today. I reckon Milner is a certainty as he’s played plenty in the warm-up games with the left hand side a little more up for grabs, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Downing start, more’s the pity. I reckon England could tough it out for a no or low scoring draw though. If England go a goal down then expect to see Walcott and Chamberlain later in the game, it will be up to them to force themselves into the team in that case.

    No surprise that Ireland got beat, I wasn’t very popular when I was over there a couple of weeks ago by saying that they’d do well to get a point. Last night was, on paper at least, their easiest game and they created very little apart from on set-pieces. Italy were a surprisingly good to me, considering the disruption they’ve had in their build-up to the tournament and Spain were Spain, although I think Del Bosque will have to play with a proper striker from now on. I can see Ireland going home with no points at all from this group now, too many championship standard players to be mixing it with the likes of Italy and Spain.

  6. Upper Street Gooner

    Seems strange to me that if your going to play counter attack football leaving Theo out of the side.

    Then again matching Theo up with Clichy may well be a fruitless task so bringing him on later might make more sense.

    Oxlade was never going to be started against France.

    See no reason why we cant nick a draw tonight if we play well. Fuck trying to play football. We have no midfield we must play to our strengths

  7. The Real Stew Black

    ‘We’
    Are Arsenal playing today then?

  8. dups

    If a post passes new information to someone, it’s worthwhile.

  9. Yes the Irish looked out of depth yesterday but at least they gave an honest, spirited display as always.
    Sometimes you just want your heart rate boosted, enjoy a game & dispense with winning or losing.
    I am so not irish BUT I always enjoy watching ’em.
    God bless their spirits and good luck in the next 2 matches.

  10. As you say, Roy is on a Hodgeson, sorry, hiding to nothing.

    Not picking Theo is consistent with Roy’s apparent game plan to make us hard to beat and I don’t really expect a flurry of Gallic goals.

    But I also suspect (as I writ last week sometime) that he sees Theo as a super-sub and given the atmospheric conditions out there this could be a masterstroke. As could his deliberately down-beat approach to the tournament; we all believe we (England) have little chance so expect to see an over-confident France side.

    No idea whether we’ll see the Ox but again, with a tiring French defence we may yet be suprised despite our evident disappointment over the starting line up.

    But for England, for the first 60 minutes, I predict defence will be the best form of defence …

    (But I await correction from USG).

  11. On England v France….

    Theo+Ox vs Kos…….all 3’ll probably not start…
    I don’t expect both to go thru to the next round…think Sweden will…
    I really don’t like Nasri anymore…or Benzema
    Love the Ox but he’s not “there” yet…
    Hope Theo plays…
    No M’V..no Sagna…
    I enjoy Ben Arfa, Rami..hope Theo plays..
    Really don’t care who wins…
    I hope its at least fun to watch
    Like yesterday’s games were.

  12. The Real Stew Black

    One thing. If Roy and his team had really studied Theo they might realise that his tracking back and defensive work has been phenomenal this season. A real example of the burgeoning maturity in his overall game. Also when he wins the ball back or is available to receive it from a fullback he provides the opportunity for a one man counter attack with his blistering pace.
    Apart from anything else he’s one of Roy’s few genuinely top class players. Look how RVP coped without him…

  13. Upper Street Gooner

    Andrew

    No i completely agree.

    Hodgson is a good manager he understands how to get his side to play to their strengths.

    Its not as if Theo has a tremendous body of work for england that demands his inclusion in any starting side. He also tends to have a tougher time againsr quick left backs and has been in Evra pocket throughout his career so far.

    Get to 60-70 mins intact and then see what we can do…smart management. If we had wilshere and rooney maybe we could play differently but without them its very limited what one can do.

    We know only to well what can happen if you go out against good opposition and play gungho from the get go.

  14. Upper Street Gooner

    Stew

    His trackign back improved tremendously bt it had to as it was a real weakness. Steady on that its now phenomenal. We have already established that we have some very good defenders and maybe our defensive issues are cuased by our attackers not doing a good enough job with their defensive work….theo starts allot of game in our attack.

    RVp issues have zero to with tho and everything to do with him having an off day in front of goal

  15. I thought both Italy and Spain should have won but that’s the way it goes. Ireland is toast. England needs to come out and attack. Keep france on their heels I will be puling for England. Since the USA’s roots are English.

  16. we had no gunners on display yesterday, today three.
    hope we get to see at least 2.
    if not, oh well using our guys as impact subs is not alltogether a bad thing.
    could reduce wear & tear
    Theo, Ox, Kos, Mert, Szcz(suspended), RvP (might be benched if reports are true),

    AA, TR, Poldi, NikB are the guaranteed starters

  17. pedantic george

    Holland would be better benching Robben and playing RVP in his position with Huntelar central.

  18. Upper Street Gooner

    George

    I agree although i think Affelay who has played zero football this year should be the one who makes way. for Huntelaar.

  19. Woah, I’m off for a lie down. George and USG having a love-in?

    Nurse, where’s the medication…

  20. Why start Downing and not Carroll? Surely Downing is only there for his crossing.

  21. I think the dutch are seriously close to being eliminated from the euros. TBH, I dont know why Steklenberg is preferred to Krul or even Vorm? I’ve never rated him.

    They were too cautious going with Bommell and De Jong and now RvP is copping the flak for that, as the coach could have easily accomodated both Robin and Huntelaar, imo. Affelay ws anonymous and I would give him the night off for the next game, although Robben’s greediness was annoying to say the least!

    I’d go with;
    Krul
    Back 4
    van Bommell – VDV
    Robben – Sneider – RvP
    Huntelaar

  22. I don’t understand why Scholes and Ferdinand can be left out of the England set-up but we’re stuck with Terry, Lampard and Gerrard.

    But at least – surely to goodness – this has to be their last tournament, and then England can finally move on from their generation’s ruinous self-importance and sense of entitlement.

    I can’t see Wilshere or the Ox timing the release of their mid-career autobiographies for the end of the World Cup like Rooney and Gerrard did in 2006, in anticipation of their glorious triumph, and one of the most arrogant dick moves I’ve ever seen.

    God knows I don’t like Ashley Cole but at least these days he works hard, shuts up and fully deserves his place in the first team.

    I wouldn’t even mind some arrogance from the England senior players if they had, you know, any record of success – anything at all – to base it on.

  23. Markus

    I thinkmHodgson still thinks he is Liverpool manager man, no other logical reason for Downing to be in the squad, let alone the team. I cannot believe that this below average journey man footballer is allowed to get caps for England? Its a damning indictment on todays society! 🙂 Milner on the right is hardly much of an improvement either. However, I would stick with Milner on the right, play Young on the left and stick AOC in behind the front man, who for me, would be Carroll. (Shock shock horror)

  24. I’d also play Jones at RB, with a CB pairing of Jagielka and lescott. Terry is an injury/defensive mistake/red card waiting to happen.

  25. Upper Street Gooner

    Dexter

    I agree i think now that Cahill is injured it makes more sense to switch to a partnership which understand each other.

    I could see the merit before of starting chaill and terry together as a combination i they are the most battle ready. Now that has changed i would have gone with lescott and jag.

    That ebing said i think we are solid defensivly and Terry despiet being a complet twat offers allot of intagibles when on good behaviour

  26. Rememeber there was talk of Almunia qualifying for England. I wonder if Arteta could have too.

  27. I for one hope Theo and Ox don’t play as I would rather them be saved for club reasons but I also think they wont play because Hodgson will park the bus and hope for the best. I do think Benzema will cause all type of problems not to mention if Ribery is on his game(which according to recent friendlies he is) whoever plays RB will be in for a long day. No M’villa but I still like Diarra. I see a thrashing coming because once France gets one and this match opens up at all, France has more bullets in the chamber than the fighting Hodgsons.

  28. Markus

    I was sure he was eligible, but someone (I think it was C) said he couldnt play for England as he had represented Spain at every other level apart from the seniors. Although I understood the rules as meaning a player could represent his adoptive counbtry if he hadnt played for them at senior level.

  29. Upper Street Gooner

    markus

    he cant as the rule stipulates that you needed to be eligible to play for the adopted country when under 21 if you were a 21 international with another country.

    He would eb perfect for us

  30. Ha! Talk of the devil! 🙂

  31. @Markus

    No Arteta can’t play for England, it has something to do with him playing for Spain on every level except the senior side and FIFA Statutes stipulate that the player needs to have held a British passport at the time when he represented Spain at the U16 European Championships and in addition he would have required five years of education in Britain before turning 18

  32. Poor old Hodge. Wenger says “a must win game for england, you can’t afford to lose the first”, and he’s right of course; and yet every fibre of Hodge’s being will tell him “whatever, just don’t lose the first biggie”. Therefore, a conservative tactical approach will dominate; and he doesn’t have many options anyway.

  33. Dex

    As well as Fifa, there is a Gentlemen’s Agreement between the Home FAs. Essentially it was designed to protect the young players in the four nations and allow their development in light of a number of players like Arteta who having a British Passport, are eligible to play for any of the four countries.

    So if Arteta had a British passport at 16, he would not be picked by England, Wales, N Ireland or Scotland.

  34. Poor old Hodge. Wenger says “a must win game for england, you can’t afford to lose the first in this competition”, and he’s right of course; and yet every fibre of Hodge’s being will tell him “whatever, just don’t lose the first”. Therefore, a conservative tactical approach will dominate; and he doesn’t have many options anyway. Either way, I can hardly bring myself to care. I would have a go with Theo and Carroll on the simple principle of giving defenders something to do.

  35. ZP

    When you are playing the top-ranked side in the group, I don’t think that AW’s maxim is entirely correct. If England do lose, they have to take six points from the two remaining games and hope that Sweden / Ukraine share the spoils and don’t beat France. If Sweden were to win it might create a three-way tie at the top of the group (assuming France beat Ukraine as well) in which case goal difference / goals scored in the matches between tied teams takes precedence (in that order) before group goal difference, etc., is measured.

    So France beat Sweden and England 1-0 whilst England and Sweden draw, whoever of the latter two hands the biggest gubbing out to Ukraine would qualify (presuming they both won). If all three are level on points – all beating Ukraine – say, France beat England 1 – 0, then lose 1 – 2 to Sweden with the England beat Sweden 2-1, France would be out on the basis that England and Sweden have scored three to their two.

    In summary, if you are going to lose, lose by a single goal in a high scoring match!

  36. Interestingly enough I was actually hoping by some miracle that Diaby would be fit for the Euros because he seems to be 1st choice and I would have wanted to see if he could regain form play for Les Bleus

  37. @Yogi’s Warrior | June 11, 2012 at 12:55 pm

    The funniest part has to be the possiblity that England can actually muster up goals. England better hope for France and Sweden to leave there ‘shooting boots’ back in their respective countries otherwise we will be seeing Ox and Theo very soon(even though I expect them to be back soon anyways).

  38. Really enjoyed the Espana vs Italia match. With the Dutch they are playing the sort of entertaining football I love. Though the Italians and the Dutch have improved their game the Spaniards seem to be slipping. Maybe it’s that their golden generation is aging – yet their display remains above the rest – even when they played without a striker. As to England and France today I’ll have to sneak out of work early. Those are the dangers of not being self employed!

  39. @kenyangunner

    I agree with you about the Spaniards slipping but the best part of the match was when I thought Balotelli was getting ready to unleash all sorts of hell on that defenders face only to mash the ground into hell.

  40. I was a kid when England beat France at the world cup in 1982. Can’t remember the match – I’m not speaking of the Youtube replays – but we knew Keegan and hadn’t heard of Platini. Jean Tigana was to become one of our darlings – he was Malian after all and that was close enough!The funny thing I remember was that the French broadcaster – as reported later – had wept uncontrollably after the loss. At that age I didn’t see the big deal in that encounter. But as I grew older I did!

  41. @C, I felt that Ballotelli should have run hard and hit the ball with force. But I’ve always felt that the fellow is not just a loose cannon but also has a lose nut!

  42. KG

    3 – 1 in Bilbao, with Bryan Robson scoring after 27 seconds which is I think, the second fastest goal in World Cup history.

  43. The Arse in The Gamb

    If you want to win with a defence you have to have the ability to counter – like the blue Manchester or the national team of their coach.

    That would suggest the speed and skill of Theo and the Ox.

    Without a strike force that can make the difference in a game we will grind out a few results, nick a few, but never be able to do to Spain what Italy did and never outdo the real ‘Sicillian defence’ on display yesterday in a later stage.

    The final selection today will therefore probably be instructive of what we can expect from
    England in this tournament.

  44. According to reports, AOC is starting on the left with Milner on the right.

  45. @kenyangunner

    For being blessed with so much freakin talent he is definetly the most unpredictable player in the tournament. Able to go out and score a hat-trick with ease or go fetch a red just as easily.

  46. @C | June 11, 2012 at 1:06 pm

    I think that the best thing for England in terms of the attack functioning would be to go a goal down. Hodgson would then have to look at playing much more potent players in Walcott and Chamberlain rather than plodders like Downing and Milner. You might come back or end up losing by more, but at least you won’t die wondering. I’ve seen plenty of coaches have one wing with a more “solid citizen” and an outright attacker on the other side (Wenger’s template up until about 2007 or so), but to go with two who don’t often beat their men and aren’t especially creative is way too conservative and, for all his positive comments, makes it seem like England are running a little scared.

  47. Looks like Hodgson is going to be a bit bolder than anyone gives him credit for, including moi! 🙂

    I hope those rumours are true, although the odds offered for him to score at any time of 6/1 are well skinny man.

  48. low scoring draw this afternoon, we should get through the group

  49. The Real Stew Black

    If true Theo must be wondering what he has to do. I wouldn’t put Milner in a pub team.

  50. @Block4

    I agree with you but the thing that I noticed even more this year ecspecially when Sagna was out, was Theo’s tracking back was brillant all season long. It will be really interesting to see the lineup for actually both teams to see how adventurous both teams are willing to be. I would imagine that if England does go down a goal the decision would have to be made though to either open up the match some or save face and not get the hammer dropped on you. I have seen Benzema score bags of goals this season for Madrid and Ribery as well for Bayern when the match becomes more open. I imagine it will be pretty defensive from England though.

  51. I don’t know why mancini and the italian manager tolerates balotelli, it has gotten to the stage where he fills he needs to do something controversial or media worthy. Talented or not he is not worth all the trouble.

    This is my euro team, already regretting some inclusions like de jong while i was spot on with jelavic.

    Neuer
    Lahm Pepe Terry A.cole

    M’villa Xavi De jong Ribery

    Rvp Jelavic

    Bench:Szescney(yea thanks a lot), Jordi alba, toivenen and 2 unknown fellas.

  52. khali

    Lioke the idea of a euro team, although, I’d consider using players we have actually seen this tournament!

    Here’s mine;

    Buffon
    Lahm – Hummells – Kjaer – Alba
    Alonso – Ozil
    Dzagoev – Iniesta – Arshavin
    Di Natale

  53. Upper Street Gooner

    Block 4

    He is playign to our strengths.

    England ofr me have suffered in recent years becuase we havent had an identity. Look what happened to us at the last world cup when we tried to mix it up.

    We shouldnt be ashamed of reverting to a defensive mentality if that is indeed our best way of doign well in the tournoment.

    If we had Wilshere, Lampard and Rooney knocking aroufn things might be a little different btu as they are injured a smart manager adapts his style.

    Personally i think France will have to much for us, but in terms of % of doing well the worst thing we could do is open up and go toe to toe with them.

  54. Dex, 2 questions – why buffon over casillas and err alonso? I would put pirlo in there.
    The rest are pretty much finger licking.

  55. @Khalifha

    I think they put up with him because of his talent. You look at players like Van Bommel or even Rooney, both those players are notorious hot heads but because of their talent they are able to be kept. I remember watching Balotelli even for Inter and he is a hot head but he’s only 20yrs(if I’m not mistaken) and you watch him play and while ever maddening with his volatile personality, he works hard and at any moment his talent and pure striker instincts take over and he can create magic. If he was ever to decide “Ok, FFS I’ve had my fun now time to dominate futbol” he would be one of the top strikers in the world.

    From what the Italian manager has said in the papers that Balotelli is essential on a short leash for any of his craziness but would only punish him for stupidity like picking up unnecessary yellow cards.

  56. Upper Street Gooner

    Khalifa

    You forget that our very own rvp was considered a complete cunt by just about everyone who met him bar aw when he was younger

    It took rvp years to show the kind of production that balotelli did last year and the year and the year before.

    His potential is unbeleivable and team in many sports are always willing to take a chance on such things

  57. France may have the better players but do they have the hunger and will to win. Teams without hunger might be able to paper over their weakness with unrivalled talent, can you say the same thing about france.

    My prediction is England hold firm at the back with france falling into the trap of playing too narrow, ribery and nasri will cut inside and try to play little triangles with benzema(we know how that always ends) instead of utilising the wings.

    Terry and co defend deep, clean up the left overs, eat up the crumbs and england leave france with a sour taste in their mouths with a sucker punch counter attack goal or set piece goal, wham, bam, thank you ma’am.

  58. @Upper Street Gooner | June 11, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    I wasn’t advocating all-out attack against them, but a little more ambition wouldn’t go amiss. The French team are all good players, but they are players that the English lads play against fairly regularly (for the most part) for their clubs. Respect where it’s due, but there’s no need to be scared shitless. By all means play Milner on one side, but at least play a more attacking player on the other. Happily, if rumours are to be believed, Hodgson has gone down that route as it seems Chamberlain is going to play.

  59. khali

    Buffon and Casillas are both top notch , but I think the Italian was more impressive than his spanish counterpart yesterday. Pirlo was quality true dat, but I think Alonso would also give some defensive cover and allow the others to go nuts!

  60. Yes, I know what you mean YW. The permuations become mind-boggling in these 4-way affairs with one favourite, 2 medium-rankers and a dark horse capable of an upset; and of course you can lose and go through, happens all the time. I think AW’s point was partly that France can also be disjointed, so attack them. Then simple maths+tactics; teams that win the opener have advantage tactically (if they can use it), ergo the first match is usually the most important (very few teams lose the opener, and don’t go through). But Hodge is no fool and I wouldn’t under-estimate his street smarts. My own view, worthless I know, as that I wish England would start betting on themselves to win since even a weakened England is better than it thinks with a positive mindset, with a team and tactics designed to dominate the middle, the flanks and set up the chances. If you lose, so be it. C’est la vie.

  61. Anyway, since I don’t care about jinxing anyone, I predict an England win against France; and a carefully attacking mix from Hodge, surprising more than a few, but mainly contrived to control possession in the middle, and not wet their pants every time France gets the ball.

  62. On the other hand if France have one of their confidence moments, they will go on and probably win the tournament.

  63. @Khalifha

    Interesting point about Terry and co and hunger and will to win. the CB’s for England always seem to have a difficult time with big, strong, powerful, technical, poucher type strikers and hold up, wait for it wait for it wait for it that is exactly what Benzema and Giroud are. You make a great point about Nasri and Ribery playing narrowly but they have a player named Jeremy Menez who if he doesn’t start or if Blanc decideds to go with a 4-2-3-1(which they played quite a bit during qualifying) and Ribery-Na$ri-Menez play behind Benzema, Menez will terrorize Cole because outside of his blinding pace he is also very technically gifted and creator. He is a player I wouldn’t mind seeing in our AM role.

  64. Upper Street Gooner

    zimpaul

    Surely you set up tactics which which fit the team you are putting out.

    When was the last time england dominated a good sides midfield?

    We have 3 of our best 5 midfielders out injured already. The French have been playing for 2 years under the same coaching set up.

    In a short space of time its much easier to get defensive cohesion and organization than it is to create attacking patterns

    Our players are more suited to play defensively

    I don’t see why there is this difficulty with us playing a negative brand of football. Our best bet at scoring is set plays and on the counter.

    We lost 4-1 the last time we tried to play open

  65. C,
    He should only be tolerated if he is the undoubted star of the team, at man city he is 3rd choice striker, in italy they have di natale and giovinco on the bench, but the amount of baggage he comes with you would think he was the 2nd coming of henry.
    Rooney was an okay example tho, but what you forget is that rooney is the most hardworking player on the pitch and usually gives 100% when it comes to football. did he attract this much media attention?, is balotelli as talented as rooney? Even mourinho says he is unmanageable, he could not tame the beast man.

    Usg.
    I know rvp was a bit of a prick earlier on but can you compare the shenanigans balotelli does to rvp tantrums? Hell No.

  66. @Zimpaul

    I agree with you that a confident France team could win the tournament as they are my dark horse purely down to Hugo(GK), Ribery, Benzema, Diarra, and Blanc who seems to be able to get the best out of this Les Bleus side. I also like Cabaye and Ben Afra. But I really dont want that cunt Na$ri to win Euro’s!

  67. Yogi. Thanks for the post.

    Can’t understand preferring Milner to theo. Theo adds so much more pizzaz and England certainly is in need of some of that. I do agree with Ox starting on the bench but he would make a very interesting impact sub. Surprised if kos does not start. He certainly deserves it.

  68. Upper Street Gooner

    Khalifa

    No you cant but nevertheless they were problem kids and in todays media driven age its much harder to keep things under raps.

    Iamgine if there was youtube when rvp was constantly getting in fights with opposition fans, players even his own.

    I don’t condone what Balotelli does but at the end of the day he is 20 year old lad with very complicated upbringing in a country which doesn’t really tolerate people who are different.

    I think his ability is quite incredible, whether he goes on to achieve what he can we shall see. I hope he does he certainly makes things more interesting

  69. Dexter, yea alonso does the dirty work while xavi struts around like he owns the place, i wish steven dunne attempts one of his ‘honest tackles’ on him.

    C, who got it all wrong, terry and lescott enjoy playing against big,strong players all day, they eat strikers like that up. But give them a nimble, fleet footed attacker and watch the red cards flow.

    Quote me on this, benzema will not score today.

  70. USG, it’s just that, from a cricket viewpoint when you are boxing a little above your weight (to mix two sports metaphors) you are more likely to win by trying to win, stressing your attacking virtues (and england has more than it thinks); than by trying not to lose, or not too badly, and this is especially true against a favourite like France with “expectations”. It’s a great maxim for the underdog, and a good antidote for the depression that England seems to sink into every major tournament. How do teams beat Arsenal? Every time the answer is the same: attack them right in the middle, and ride your luck.

  71. @Khalifha

    I know its absolutely absurd I’m even defending him but do I think he is as talented as Rooney, Hell Yea. They do have Di Natale on the bench but I think he is better suited for the role at this stage in his career as a sup sub who can come in and on his 1st touch of the futbol put the ball in the back of the net. For all the shit that Balotelli does give, he worked hard yesterday constantly putting pressure both attacking wise adn defensively on the Spaniards back 4 along with Xabi and Busquets not allowing them to feel comfortable. The 1 thing that people forget is that he is only 20 and has always had that pressure of being the savior of Italian futbol since his days at Inter. I remember watching him and Eto on the attack 1 match and Mario was simply unplayable to the point that Eto deferred to him.

  72. Upper Street Gooner

    Zimpaul

    I get what your saying but i would suggest teams beat arsenal by playing very deep defensively strangling our space and ability to attack. Then they hit us either with a lightening quick counter or from a set play as we pump more players forward to try and open them up

    If France are trying to win from long shorts and crosses today we can deal with them. If we give there attackers space they can murder us.

    We have the potental to be devastating from set pieces, add a counter attack specialist like Theo and i think we could cause them some real problems.

    Similar to the Germany port game but with the hope of offering a tiny bit more. will be hard with downing and milner in the side but i expect both to work there fricking arses off

  73. @Khalifha

    Mate I will quote you on that HAHAHAHAHAHA. Thats the thing with Benzema though he has exceptional feet and quite nimble, honestly if I had to have a striker lead my line not named RVP I would choose Benzema. Dont see them eating this striker up, not to mention Terry and Lescott have issues with active strikers who make good run in and behind them and watching him play for Madrid he is that type. Part of my fascination with the French is that I have money on this game with a coworker who is from Manchester so I need the French to win but I do genuily like their side.

  74. Downing to work is arse off HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA I think you have a chance of seeing Diaby play every match next season(damn I hope he does)

  75. England would get destroyed if they try to play open attacking style. Staying organized and defending well is their only chance. Nothing wrong with that if it’s your best option. That said I
    Agree with steww. Theo does a reasonable job of defensive cover and he should play because they need at least one player who could be a outlet for a counter attack.

  76. Whats up ACLF family?

  77. @Bill

    Theo should play just like Kos should play but the managers say to the hell with that go sit your ass on the pine you Gunner’s!

  78. Milner is an average central midfielder and a below average wide midfielder. However, Hodgson is a very good organiser and tactically very astute. He will hope to keep things tight for as long as possible and then when the french either get tired or start fighting with each other, he can unleash Theo and Carroll to unsettle them even more.

    2-0 England; Gerrard and Terry.

  79. Paul-N

    I believe the youth of today answer, “Word”. Probably wrong which shows how much of an old fart I am.

  80. Yes I PaulN, how izz you man?

  81. @Yogi

    We youth of today answer, “Sup fam”. You consistently write brillant pieces so I’ll let it slide HAHAHAHAHA

  82. I think the best I have ever seen Ebngland playing was under Glenn Hoddle in the toulon tournament before France 98. That was the most excited I have been watching the national team. If he wasnt such a fruit loop, I do think he could have been very successful with England.

  83. C
    I remember benzema from his lyon days, he was one of the hottest prospects around. There was a lot of hype surrounding him but he has definately lived up to it.

    Benzema/higuain situation at madrid is similar to the one at holland with Rvp/huntelaar. Rvp and benzema have a better all round game but higuain and huntelaar are better finishers i.e natural goalscorers. It is an interesting conundrum of choosing between better all round game or better finishers, apparently coaches prefer the former seeing as the hunter and higuain have been consigned to the bench.

  84. C;

    Maybe down your manor they say dat, not round these parts they don’t! 🙂

  85. Heck, yesterday a Souds blog, today “yoof” lessons: truly public service broadcasting YW.

    We know it will be frustrating – England, even at the top of their game, are still nowhere near as inwardly pleasing as Wengerball.

  86. Souds being the Guernsey version of Spuds, of course.

  87. Dex, you just too young to remember Euro 96 here on good ol’ blighty? We played some good stuff in the tournament, the shellacking of Holland had me and my mate sitting in the pub open-mouthed with our beers going warm in our hands we were so stunned. Beating Scotland with a great Gazza goal was fun too. Could have gone all the way there, but for Gazza failing to convert by inches in the semi…

  88. B4;

    Yeah, course I remember 96 and all that mate! I just obliterated it from my memory banks as I was devastated after the semi final defeat and that miss by Gazza. I still think the way Hoddle had England playing was superior to Venables man.

  89. Upper Street Gooner

    Dexter

    I agree, i think that 1998 team had the most about them. They were hugely unfortunate vs argentina. 1996 team were completly outplayed by spain

    Although 1990 was my first proper world cup in terms of being able to understand what was goign on. David Platt vs beligium is still my favourite england moment i think.

  90. The Real Stew Black

    I wish I could get excited about international football like I used to. I ask myself why I don’t give a damn any more when I used to be just as passionate watching England as watching Arsenal.
    Is it the presence of such vile loathsome individuals as Terry, Shrek and Cashley? Surely there’ve always been horrible people from Maunre and Chelsea in the England team. Is it just so many disappointments since World Cup 70 that I have hope fatigue? Is it maybe the sheer class and quality of football to which I have become accustomed since the advent of Wengerball means I can’t pretend England internationals are remotely entertaining?
    I can’t decide but I suspect it’s coming here being exposed to many alternative views, not being remotely nationalistic to begin with and the depth of my distaste for manure chelski and spuds being such that the volte face required to suddenly pretend to like their players just because they pull on the three lions is a step too far.
    Now, when Jack, Jethro, Ox and Theo are regular starters maybe things will change…

  91. Upper Street Gooner

    press is saying oxlade to start…….how frickign exciting for the lad and all gooners around world.

    hoep he has a blinder otherwise the press will be sure to jump on him

  92. @Khalifha

    Yea I agree with you but I think the 1 difference in the situations is that Benzema has become more of a poacher which works out extremely well both for France and Madrid since many times you have players like Ribery and Ronaldo taking those low hard shots that most of the time keepers just try and block away and Benzema is exceptional at reading those from what I have seen.

    For me in modern futbol ecspecially you need a striker that has a very good to great all around game because IMHO they are asked to do more whether it be link play, drop back in the midfield to pick up or start the attack, play or drift out on the wing and also provide the killer pass along with everything else strikers do like hold up play. A lot of it though has to do with the moder 433 system that is being played more than anything I think. I remember watching another French player be exceptional at this though, wasn’t as imposing as Benzema but had an exceptional all around game and I remember watching him pick up balls at midfield and go striding to goal….Sorry, I drifted into memory. But Benzema for me was always sucha complete striker that there aren’t many like him.

    @Dexter

    Yea your right for all my English influence still got the American youth in me.

  93. PA confirm, Ox is in. Milner on the other side.

  94. C

    Word.

    (You’ll note I am repeating this particular word in the hope that at some point I will put into the correct context)

  95. Block4

    Milner’s on the other side? Bloody hell, Doris Stokes is doing a helluva job.

  96. YW, if I meant that “other side”, I think I’d rather be chanelling one S. Matthews or similar 🙂

  97. I though the C Word belonged on other blog sites?

  98. Truly do feel for Theo, the lad time and time again this season played big for us and still seems to not be enough. My favorite English player most dangerous winger threat alongside Ox and the lad gets offed to the bench for Milner probably.

    I swear if Downing plays ahead of Theo, Theo I will gather all the money I can muster and come bring you back to the Emirates!

  99. @Yogi

    Perfectly used there.

  100. Good luck to the Ox. What a shocker. I love the Ox but theo deserved to start ahead of any of he other England wingers. Ashley young was the only one who could come close IMO. I guess Roy is going with a hunch.

  101. Can somebody give me the lineups please if they dont mind?

  102. France: Lloris, Debuchy, Rami, Mexes, Evra, Nasri, Cabaye, Diarra, Malouda, Ribery, Benzema. Subs: Mandanda, Giroud, Matuidi, Reveillere, Menez, M’Vila, Martin, Ben Arfa, Valbuena, Clichy, Koscielny, Carrasso.

    England: Hart, Johnson, Terry, Lescott, Cole, Milner, Gerrard, Parker, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Young, Welbeck. Subs: Green, Walcott, Henderson, Carroll, Baines, Jones, Jagielka, Downing, Defoe, Butland.

    Referee: Nicola Rizzoli (Italy)

  103. I am more surprised at Malouda starting for the French as opposed to any selection in the English side.

  104. I would imagine he is there due to experience but could be a stroke of genius by Blanc. I did think that Reveillere would start as the RB as he seemed to be 1st choice following the falling to injury of Sagna.

  105. Reveillere? That’d be a wake-up call.

  106. @Yogi

    I tend to like his attacking, but I guess it makes sense to start Debunchy since no M’villa to cover Reveillere.

  107. That deserved a yellow card to be fair.

  108. Word up, Yogi!

    Dex, I’m good. In Florida on vacation!

  109. Malouda is still very highly regarded by the french.

  110. French taking it to the English from the match text that I’ve seen, is this true?

  111. No, not true C, very even and England, to me, look slightly more dangerous with Ox not exactly behaving like a shy wall-flower …

    Still think Theo will come on in 60!

  112. As I was saying, England looking slightly more dangerous!

    Fra 0 – 1 Eng

  113. @arsenalandrew

    thanks for the updates as I am at work and the match text were saying France constantly on the attack and England on its heels. Who scored?

  114. World class save from Hart – “thumping header”!

  115. Just read Stevie with a beautiful placed free kick and Lescot slams it home, interesting. What will England do now?

  116. Lescott scoring his first for England, C.

    Commentary saying England have scored first in their opening match in the last 8 tournaments, just to sound a note of caution in the stylee of the doomers!

    Ox getting booked for sliding tackle at the behest of the nearby linesman (ref was letting play carry on until he put his flag up).

    England continue to play well (even if the support has gone into shock).

  117. Cunt face equalises for France.

    (Yes, THAT cuntface).

  118. @arsenalandrew

    Even though I have very little interest in teh match(only for the Arsenal lads, and a bet with a coworker) I’m glad to hear Ox is playing fearlessly but I wouldn’t expect anything less.

    I would suppose France will be bringing on Menez or Marvin come 2nd half.

  119. Ref clearly favouring France – they get freekicks for next to nothing (plus bookings in their favour), we get a failure to play the advantage and get play pulled back for a bookable foul (which isn’t then booked).

    Fowl.

  120. O I’m sure he’ll say he wouldn’t have been able to score if he was still playing for Arsenal!

  121. Don’t know the France set up well enough to predict their next moves in terms of subs. I was flummoxed they could afford to keep Kos out of the first 11. I suspect we wouldn’t have opened the scoring had Blanc got THAT right!

  122. To be fair to the pillock, it WAS a good goal albeit from a free hit, some way out. Gerrard tried to close down but too close to the England goal.

  123. From what I’ve seen Menez, Marvin or Valbuena normally come on for 1 of Malouda or Na$ri.

    There’s been alot of couching blunders early in these Euro’s that I wouoldn’t have thought would have happened given how many fo the teams played before and how inform some players were/are. This is what I have so far:

    1. Kos not starting for the French
    2. Afellay starting outside for the Dutch instead of RVP out wide and Huntelaar.
    3. Spanish not playing Llorente who has been unplayable all year.
    4. Czech coach deciding were not going to defend AT ALL!

    But there have been some strokes of pure genius like Italy coming out playing a 352 with De Rossi(arguably their most important player along with Pirlo and Buffon) as a sweeper instead of his normal CM/DM role.

  124. I think there are others, C – I’m thinking about how the Portugal failed to impress with Ronaldo. He looked isolated and rendered largely ineffective. Didn’t see the game but heard the commentary of the Spain game which was describing Fabregas as virtually playing centre-forward …

  125. Steww – I think there came a point in the last few years when England managers started distributing England caps like confetti. You could sometimes see half the side changed at half time and invariably your favourite – or England’s best – players would come off as the manager tinkered with the line-up. The players spent years looking like they’d barely met let alone played alongside each other.

    I DON’T think it’s the fact we’ve won nothing for 46 years that is the problem, simply that we have had too many occasions where we’ve failed to compete, looked half-interested and been made to look very ordinary by the effectiveness and flair of our Premier League’s top sides, the passion and endeavour generally exhibited by the lower placed ones.

    Also think expectations have been fuelled to foolishly sky-high limits by the media and the pressure on our lads have been impossibly high at times. It wasn’t all that many years ago that David Beckham, of all players, had effigies hanging from lamp posts following his pitch dismissals whilst wearing an England shirt …

  126. @arsenalandrew

    Yea Spain played 6 midfielder(Xavi, the man that shall not be named, David Silva, Xabi Alonso, Busquets, Inesta) and no fowards with the man who shall not be named playing basically as a false 9. Didn’t look particularly good if you ask me but did get their lone goal. They looked mroe fluid with Navas outwide with Torres upfront. Still not sure why Llorente didn’t play but I’m not the coach.

    Another puzzling decision was that of, o wait that wasn’t the coaches fault just Shay Givens fault.

  127. So – ten minutes until Theo? We’ll see …

  128. Yet ANOTHER England attack broken up by a foul followed by the award of a free kick but NO booking for France …

  129. Don’t get your hopes up on Theo.

  130. So apparently Napoli is pursuing Djourou feverishly and reports say we have agreed with Montepillar for Giroud. Should be a very interesting summer in the british media. My question is this, if the economy is struggling worldwide, how the hell does the British media get its hands on soooo much ink and paper to write all this bollocks down?!?!?!?!? anybody?

  131. I’m bound to be wrong on that, I know.

    But Milner not setting the world on fire.

    Ref failing to give England a very obvious freekick for bodycheck on Gerrard – just outside French penalty area …

  132. Funniest rumors I keep reading every is that Manshiteh are already trying to offload Na$ri HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

  133. Yeah, been watching rumours all day, wondering if they might have something in them as it’s not exactly a quiet news days …

    Milner getting and excellent cross in there.

  134. Ref and linesman a disgrace – Johnson pole-axed off the ball, not even a free kick.

    Twats.

  135. Less funny is them trying to offload him on us – NANANANANAAAA!!

  136. How worthless he has to feel, he leaves Arsenal to go chase $$, fame and trophies then lands at Shiteh only for them to want to get rid of him after 1 useless season back to the club that he left because we weren’t good enough. I doubt Arsene would even think about it after Na$ri being quoted saying we weren’t good enough to compete for titles and all.

  137. I hear the Spuds may have one or two vacancies going after the Euros; I’m sure he could find a suitable position there? Rat catcher, toilet cleaner …

  138. @ Yogi’s Warrior | June 11, 2012 at 4:46 pm

    Reveillere? That’d be a wake-up call.

    I got that, you’ll be pleased to hear.

  139. Oh no..Have I done that thing with the italics?

  140. Yea he could join there and work with ole Arry

  141. Phew.
    I was lookign forward to cheering on TheoX but I’ll have to make do with just The Ox.

  142. France are probing rather than attacking, England still playing well. One or two French passes looking tired. Could be an ideal time for Theo’s fresh legs but as we aren’t playing badly Roy may not want to change anything.

    Definitely an opportunity though …

  143. Yea England will probably play for the draw now. Come on Benzema get a late winner so Khalifha can eat a massive humble pie!

  144. We are just starting to be pinned back a bit in the last ten mins; I think Theo just being on the pitch would help by providing threat …

    Khalifha’s humble pie sounds tempting tho! 🙂

  145. Yet again, no French yellow card for a foul on an attacking Ox! But doesn’t hesitate to book our lot.

    Rubbish.

    Defoe being readied for substitution – not sure for whom or how interested Roy is in actually winning …

  146. Another BLATANT French body check! Foul but no booking.

    Getting predictable …

  147. Now Milner get’s taken out!

    Play on …

    Ox off for Defoe – done brilliantly well.

    Henderson also coming on for Parker.

  148. Well done Alex. Mature performance.

  149. calm down mate, we see this all the time in the PL.

  150. Come on now. Knick it. Ffs

  151. Come on Benzema make me proud!

  152. Get young out of there. Stupid idiot

  153. Ben arfa on for cabaye, martin on for malouda

  154. THEOOOOOOO!!!!!

  155. Welbeck comes off …

    A full 0 minutes left bar injury time.

  156. fucking Shrek. Just when your country needs you most, warming the bench with his f•• a••…

  157. A very good draw for England.

    I have to say that Hart looked very solid and it’s the most confidence I’ve had in an England goalie since The Mighty David Seaman. A real asset and we had a defence to match.

    Would like to have seen Theo given at least fifteen minutes – coming on in the 90th – why bother?

  158. Football lost.

  159. good point in the end. They should change tactics to a bit more attacking. Good job ROY. just should have. Kept Shrek back at home. And Terry.

  160. Why bother indeed.

  161. I guess ’tis the plan then, draw to win. Let’s see if it’s going to work. I really think it was stupid not to give Theo and Ox at least 10, 15 minutes together. I think we saw against AC Milan how devastating they can be when played together with Ox as an attacking mid and Theo on the wing.

  162. Lol
    FFF
    Federacion Football le Fraonce
    Also
    Ferret Face Ferguson

  163. Perfect gameplan by Hodge. Worked.
    A draw to start is pragmatic
    BUT
    I feel its the games against Sweden that will decide who goes through.
    Ibrahimobitch is the real deal!

  164. Off topic – PSG is building, just signed Lavezzi for $31M and Thiago Silva 60M

  165. France and England between them must have the ugliest players in the tournament. It’s an aesthetic disgrace.

  166. @Aman

    Really is he for country until the matches leading up to the Euro’s were he is now playing as a #10 behind the lead striker. this is a stroke of genius by their coach I must say because he absolutely excels their.

  167. The Real Stew Black

    Roy H has made a silk purse out of a sows ear. He has his side organised, calm and composed. OK they’re not fancy and they won’t win many friends. Parker and Milner are not international players by any stretch and one must assume Theo is still on the recovery trail after his hamstring problem. Imagine this side with Jack, Theo and AOC – now there is a more interesting prospect.
    However it’s a major improvement on the last WC so England fans must be content with that.

  168. Good showing though for England from what I’ve read and heard. They must now build on this performance and not let it be a 1 off because they still must beat Sweden to advance. Very good start as most people(myself included) wrote England off but its good to see and here ecspecially with Ox playing well.

  169. Not surprised C.
    Against us he was the difference and more in midfield than anywhere else.
    against Barca even he was niiicccee!
    Great talent
    THOUGH I liketh him not.

  170. @Aman

    Yea he is a great talent no doubt about that. Can dictate tempo and a whole match not to mention a great touch. I imagine he might have a brace today.

  171. TR Stew B,
    ” Imagine this side with Jack, Theo and AOC ”

    I had a similar thought with just Jack & Rooney.
    U just splashed some more goo on it with Theo & Ox.
    Another player England could do with if he regains form is Agbonlahor.
    Now that’d be fierce!

  172. But you would have to have a manager that was willing to play them all at the same time!

  173. The standard of officiating in this tournament is awful. The Italian ref today should have gone to Spec Savers.

  174. He’d never have found it Dups.

  175. Shevchenco, yarmolenco. &. Co. Having a go.
    Also nazarenco.

  176. Ukraine looking way sharper than the Swedes.
    Might have to retract me words…

  177. dups

    Post will be ready late morning.

  178. So, is it safe to say that when the Arsenal coaches spent the winter forcing the Ox through some D-Fensive drills, and not games in he first team, that they knew what they were doing? Bit like they did with theo in between his shoulder injuries, and not as some jibbering wrecks would have you believe last season.
    So, will the Arsenal coaches get any credit from our resident experts? Will they fwuck.

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