Sunday, 9 September 2012

Oxlade-Chamberlain's bollocking -Djourou's future -Sagna's a saint -£15m defender targeted

Morning Gooners.

We'll start with the main story in town and that is Roy Hodgson's plan to bollock Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for going missing in the second half of England's 5-0 win over Moldova on Friday night.

The Arsenal man, by all accounts, was one of the stars of the show during the game. But has come in for criticism from the England manager for failing to reproduce the same performance during the second period as he did during his first.

Hodgson said:

"I thought Alex was very good first half. But we made it clear to him we were going to take him off after 60 minutes, so I think he forgot to play in the 15 minutes of the second half.  
"But that will be an interesting lesson for him as well: especially when I tell him."

I think Hodgson's tongue was firmly in his cheek when he said he was going to tell The Ox. Once he's been told off in public, I think Alex will learn very quickly what is expected of him. And Hodgson picked him out for special praise when he talked about England's first half performance, so he can't be that disappointed by his performance.

It's clear that Hodgson wants him to be more consistent but that's not something you can expect from players still learning the game. What will be interesting is whether The Ox is picked to start England's game on Tuesday night against Ukraine - tougher opponents than those they faced on Friday.

Hodgson was quick to point out:
"We’re very pleased with him [Alex] anyway.  
"He did what we wanted and I selected him to do what he actually did in the first half extremely well." 
The one interesting thing I see from the England starting 11 from an Arsenal perspective is that The Ox is being selected ahead of Theo Walcott. It shouldn't be that much of a surprise now, with Hodgson selecting the old of the two for the bench on each of the occasions he's had a game that mattered.

Arsene Wenger has also adopted a policy of stating Walcott from the bench in the Gunners last two league games. And when there is no incentive to play Theo - because the club wanted to sweeten him up to sign a new deal last season - the manager doesn't have to pick him to start.

Where does this leave Theo apart from on the bench? In a very tricky position that's where. Of course if his form picks up the manager will be faced with a decision to make. But I don't think too many Gooners are unhappy with Theo being benched. And we need competition for places and if being a substitute makes Walcott up his game, that can only be a good thing for Arsenal.

The Ox meanwhile has been speaking about playing for his country.

He said:

"It’s nice that Roy has put faith in me but I don’t consider ­myself to be an automatic, regular starter yet. 
"This is just the start of my career and I’ve got to keep working very hard, day-in, day-out to keep making sure I get in the team. 
"It’s not going to be easy for me but I need to try to make it happen. 
"It would be special to start a World Cup qualifier at Wembley if I am picked to play against Ukraine on Tuesday."

What I like from Alex's attitude is that he never wants to stand still. He's always demanding more from himself and that  can only be good for both Arsenal and England.

The manager has spoken about the future of Johan Djourou, the club's fourth choice central defender. Many were surprised that nether the Swiss international or Sebastien Squillaci were moved on in the transfer window, but the Arsenal boss has revealed why he's kept faith in Djourou.

He said:
"I didn’t let Djourou leave as I love him as a player, and he loves the club."
I guess Djourou doesn't love the club in the same way as the little boy inside the greedy badger... I like Djourou. If he can find the same form consistently we saw from him when we went all those league games unbeaten two seasons ago, he is the ideal player to have around.

But at the moment there is not a chance of him finding a spot in the team with Vermaelen, Koscielny and Mertesacker miles ahead of him in the pecking order. I guess we'll see him given a run out in the league cup at the end of the month though.

Elsewhere, Bacary Sagna has said the French players are like saints compared to some of their English counterparts.

He said:
"When you look at the behaviour of English players who go up to cameras and say ‘F*** off!’, the French are saints."
Obviously he's referring to Wayne Rooney's behaviour which saw him banned by the Football Association. Quite why he's getting involved - so long after the incident - I've got no idea. But he's right about the professionalism of the French players especially at Arsenal. They are on the whole very good role models for children.

And finally, The People are reporting Arsenal entered the race at the end of the last transfer window to sign Everton left back Leighton Baines. They say the Merseyside club have slapped a £15m price tag on the England international's head.

It would be surprising if Arsene Wenger was on the look out for another left-back and especially one who is 27-years-old and would cost more than Santi Cazorla. But we shall see...

That's your lot for today. Back with more tomorrow.

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