Morning all, and welcome to a brand new week.
We’ll start with the Euros and Spain made history last night by becoming the first team ever to retain the European Championships. It was kinda funny that in the build up to the game there was much focus on how ‘boring’ they were, and even Arsene Wenger had his say:
They have betrayed their philosophy and turned it into something more negative.
Originally they wanted possession in order to attack and win the game; now it seems to be first and foremost a way not to lose.
To be fair, I think there is some merit to what he said but last night Spain were anything but negative. They were absolutely superb, playing with Cesc instead of a recognised striker, and while the relentlessness of their tippy-tappy can get a trying, last night they added some real verve and incisiveness to their attacking play (not really seen since they were helped by Ireland’s players in the group stages). Cesc set up the fantastic opening goal for David Silva and although Italy had a decent spell following the goal, Alba’s pace and the perfect weight of the pass from Xavi saw them go in 2-0 at half-time.
Italy tried to change things at half-time and the introduction of di Natale almost paid dividends when he headed over early on. Sadly, however, the contest was over when Italy lost their final sub, Thiago Motta, when he bollixed his hamstring within minutes of coming on. Whatever chance the Italians had of clawing back two goals on a team as good as Spain was gone, and perhaps there ought to be a look at the rules to deal with situations like that.
Maybe teams should have a ‘wildcard’ substitution, one that allows a player who is injured to be replaced without using up the three ‘tactical’ changes a manager is permitted in a game. It was just a shame that with half an hour to go the game was essentially over. Spain were fantastic but one Italian goal would have made the final stages really exciting. As it was, they added two more. One for Torres and the other from Juan Mata.
There’s no doubting the fact they are worthy champions. Whatever you feel about their style of play – and I do feel there’s an element of people being tired of them because they’re so good, a bit like Liverpool when I was growing up (yes, that was a long time ago) – they do play incredible football and this generation of Spanish players will be talked about long into the future.
So, that’s the tournament done and dusted and it has provided some welcome interest during the close season without ever really hitting the heights we might have hoped. Arsenal interest petered out and I’m not sure, in the cold light of day, it was a classic, but it was good to have the football all the same. When you consider Arsenal’s pre-season begins in one week, and with it more news and stories, it’s given us something to watch and to talk about.
France need a new boss but Arsene has ruled himself out of the running, saying:
There are a lot of names, but me, I will be very busy with Arsenal where my contract still runs for two years.
And now that all the distractions of the Euros are out the way, and Arsene’s punditry/scouting mission is over, people will be expecting him to get busy indeed. As I said, pre-season is just a week away (although players who have been away in Poland and Ukraine will be given extended breaks), and there’s a squad to be sorted out for the start of the new season.
Despite plenty of rumours involving some of those you would expect to be plying their trade elsewhere next season, nothing concrete has happened there. With the transfer window officially open now there really should be some movement soon enough, and there are still some additions to be made, again you would hope that business is done in as timely a fashion as possible.
There are also the two contracts that need to be sorted with Robin van Persie and Theo Walcott heading into the final year of their current deals. There’s nothing new with regard to either player, but I don’t think their situations are linked in any way. I expect Walcott to sign a new contract. His withdrawal from talks as our season lurched from low to high to low to sort of high was a touch pie in the sky for me. He’s a good player on his day but hasn’t produced on a consistent enough basis to try and hold the club over a barrel. A relatively disappointing European Championships won’t have done much for his stock either. I’m sure there’d be plenty of clubs interested in him because of his contract situation but I doubt those clubs would test us if he had a few years left.
As for Robin, who knows at this stage? I’ve said before I feel clarity regarding his future is necessary, especially as captain of the club, but maybe now that the focus will return to domestic, rather than international matters, things will become more clear.
In the small bit of Arsenal news around this morning, Andre Santos talks about how he came to join the club, and his ambition to make the left back position his next season:
Today I learn how to mark and support the attack when going forward, but next season I hope to make progress for Arsenal so I can become a regular starter.
The competition between himself and Gibbs will be interesting, that’s for sure. I don’t see recruitment in the full back positions at all – unless there’s something more serious about Sagna’s injuries that we don’t know at this stage – and I’m all for the cuddly maverick making himself undroppable as a defender and a False 3.
Right, that’s yer lot, news throughout the day on Arseblog News, back here tomorrow.