Transfer Positives, Did Arsène Really Say That & Arsenal At Euro2012: England Through, Kos Up For France?
England 1 – 0 Ukraine
France 0 – 2 Sweden
They say that luck in football does not counteract previous events. As an Englishman, I find that hard to believe this morning with quite rightly, Ukranian ire focussed on the officials who should have gone to a high street chain of opticians that I won’t name because they have not paid for advertising space.
John Terry’s back of the net clearance would have changed the game in Donetsk last night but such was the waywardness of their opponents finishing, it is hard to credit that a goal for the hosts would have resulted in anything more than a point for either side. That would not have changed the pecking order in the group with France being beaten by the Swedes. It was the fastest that Terry has moved all season and even then he was too slow.
As it is England face Italy rather than Spain. Judging by the form displayed by both nations, it will be a battle of attrition with any chance of a spectacle for the neutral relying on England taking the lead. Should Italy score first, there is little evidence to suggest that England with Ashley Young and James Milner filling the wide roles, are capable of providing a genuine goal threat. Noticeably, Steven Gerrard has been more effective at delivering crosses than either of those two.
Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s cameos were ineffectual as England were forced onto the back foot by Ukraine. They had to win, it was imperative that the co-hosts were more dynamic than their opponents who knew a draw would suffice.
France on the other hand blew it. Masters of their own destiny, they now face Spain whose performances are reminiscent of their progress in Euro2008 and South Africa 2010. I expect them to be more clinical as the knockout phases progress. Yann M’vila was by all accounts tidy in possession, rarely ceding the ball cheaply; Olivier Giroud was not as effective, underlining the potential element should he join Arsenal. Philippe Mexes suspension for their Spanish encounter surely offers Laurent Koscielny the chance to show his abilities for Les Bleus which will give that match an interesting Arsenal tinge. It would be due recognition for his club form and continued improvement over the past twelve months or so.
According to reports this morning, Giroud has not signed for the club despite France Football insisting earlier this week that a deal had been concluded. Deputy Dawg, sorry, Deputy President of Montepellier, Laurent Nicollin, observed that the transfer was progressing,
Discussions are happening and going well, as part of the clause set. Things are moving serenely
Serene is rarely a description applied to transfers and little wonder that the tabloids are scratching their heads as to how to work that comment into a frenzy. Luckily for them, Arsenal’s parent club are looking to take Thomas Vermaelen off our hands so they have something to get their teeth into. Except he is third choice so not really back page fodder as such.
Arsène meanwhile has spoken openly about Robin van Persie. Or at least the Italian press claim he has, which in all probability means he said no such thing. But it’s the summer and times are quiet so La Repubblica is as good a source for a quote as any,
He will stay at Arsenal. There is no reason why a top player, a big champion would want a move to Serie A – in terms of the prestige of the league, the level of play or financial considerations. If he moves there, I will buy you a caramello
No doubt some will believe this good news but as with all media outlets, it carries a health warning. La Repubblica is a Roman-based newspaper that likes nothing more than to denigrate the northern cities. It’s editorial direction will publish any story that undermines any misplaced sense of advancement by Juve or the Milanese clubs. Highly likely, Arsène said no such thing although it is a nicely crafted nod and wink to the illicit tapping up of Alex Hleb.
I would agree that van Persie seems unlikely to move to Serie A. Even so, it is complacent to think this means he will not move. Whilst his family may conclude that a transfer to another Premier League club is out of the question, I am sure that the wages on offer from Chelsea and City would make that answer less straightforward than it may seem.
Of course they can demonstrate matching his ambition, winning trophies does that. But is ambition the sole factor or even the most defining? van Persie should he stay, will become an Arsenal legend. That phrase is used too liberally but free of injury, he can certainly challenge the upper echelons of the list of highest scoring players in the club’s history. Currently eighth on the list, by the end of October, I would expect him to be fifth with fourth behind Bastin, Wright and Henry a realistic end of season target. Three more seasons? Why not shoot for the top spot – he is less than a century of goals behind Henry. Moreover he would see the genuine affection for the Frenchman and it would not be unreasonable for him to think it might also apply to himself.
Football is cyclical and with so many factors affecting a season, it is hard for clubs to demonstrate that they can match a player’s ambition at the beginning of a campaign. Signings are a signal of intent and thus far, Arsenal are not doing badly but van Persie has a difficult game to play. Say for example, Arsenal bring M’vila and Giroud to join Podolski whilst releasing a few players. If that does not signal the clubs’ intention to challenge for trophies, it is hard to envisage what will. That is tantamount to the Dutchman saying the squad is not good enough for his liking. The ice underfoot is dangerously thin when a captain makes that inference.