Monday, 25 June 2012

Giroud "proud" to be a Gunner -Arsenal have England's Pirlo! -England's exit

Morning Gooners.

It was kind of inevitable that England would go out on penalties but I really didn't expect them to go out of the tournament with such a poor performance. The way Roy Hodgson's men held on until the end of extra time for penalties was embarrassing. But it just shows you the level the national team is at.

England could barley string two passes together let alone retain possession for any period. We had nine attempts on goal compared to Italy's 36. However just one (Glen Johnson's first half effort) of ours was on target!

Roy stuck to the same team which beat Ukraine and that looked to be a good decision until the opening 20 minutes were over and the Italians started to dominate possession. It was at this point you realised the limitations of Danny Welbeck, Ashley Young and James Milner. They were all passengers for me.

A switch to Andy Carroll, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott would have seen us have a player who could hold up the ball, a player who can retain possession and in Walcott an out ball for which we could have stretched the Italian defence.

I can't be too harsh on Roy. He did the best with the cards he was dealt when it came to his squad - losing four senior players to injury was not his fault. But I think he could have used his squad better and not picked players on the fact he was loyal to them the previous game. Mixing it up and choosing the right team to play the team in front of you would have been a better way to go about winning the game.

But England are what we are. An average international team and there is no getting away from that point. The FA have picked a conservative manager who will do well to a point. But will he switch away from the out-dated 4-4-2 formation? Will he give youth a chance? Will he switch it so that England attempt to retain more of the possession?

I think it was a blessing we didn't get through to the semi-finals. The Germans would have mauled us and that would have been embarrassing.

Next up for England is the qualification for the World Cup. Already a lot is expected of Jack Wilshere and he's not kicked a ball competitively in over a year. Jamie Redknapp in the Daily Mail says young Jack is our answer to Italy's Andre Pirlo. A lot of pressure on a pair of young shoulders. Jack is going to need a lot of time to reacclimatise to football of the highest level following his spell out. But in a years time why can't he be our Pirlo.

Coming home from the Euros the Arsenal boys involved for England can come away with their heads held high and their reputations intact. Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade Chamberlain both experienced their first minutes playing at the highest level for their national side and both did well. I think both of their reputations among those who don't support Arsenal have grown.

Once they return to London, Arsenal need to sit down with Theo and sign him up to another long term deal. That might be easier said than done, but Dick Law and Ivan Gazidis have to work their magic and ensure it's done.

One deal which should be finalised this week is that of Olivier Giroud who will travel to London for a medical in the coming days and pen to paper on a five year contract with Arsenal.

He's already spoken about his joy of joining the north London club.

He said:
"I am so happy to be signing for Arsenal — it is something that represents so much for me. 
"I’ve always dreamed of playing in the Premier League and Arsenal are a great club with many French players."
Once Giroud is done, it's important the club don't stop there. It appears with the signings of Giroud and Podolski, Arsene Wenger is building a squad which will be able to challenge for the Premier League next season. And that's a prospect I'm really looking forward to.

Need some more reading? Joss Bennett has posted his latest installment of Inside the Formation on Laurent Koscielny's performance for France against Spain.

That's it for today. More tomorrow.

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