And it’s goodnight from me…

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

This morning I was woken up by a cat, who decided that Mrs Tom’s head was the ideal location for him to sit until it was breakfast time. This isn’t terribly unusual – he quite often decides the best time to be at his most friendly is when you’re at your most docile (i.e. asleep). What was unusual was the fact that he was quite so noisy about it – miaow this, and miaow that. Anyone would’ve thought he was hungry and wanted someone to get up and feed him. Naturally enough, despite it being her head he was sitting on, Mrs Tom quite happily slept through it as he purred like a maniac, drilling to the centre of the earth. Some people might suggest simply chucking him off the bed, or shutting them out of the bedroom, but this fails to understand the nature of cat ownership, or more accurately, being owned by a cat – or the size of the cat in question. He’s not to be fucked with.

This all started at about 4am (or that’s when it woke me up, at least), so I’m feeling somewhat jaded today, and I have an audit tomorrow for which I need to spend today preparing instead of doing actual work. Fun times.

Onto less feline news now, and it looks like I picked the wrong fixture again at Euro 2012 as I watched England – France play out a 1-1 draw. I say it was the wrong game; Roy Hodgson’s selection was both refreshing and interesting for an England manager, picking players to fit a system that brought the best from them as well as countered the strengths of the opposition rather than picking players based on their reputations, and I was surprised they weren’t as poor as I expected them to be – but it wasn’t a particularly fun game to watch.

Patrice Evra likened England’s tactics to Chelsea’s in the Champions League semi-final against Barcelona, which I don’t suppose he really meant as a compliment, but it worked for England in a similar way – although it should be said that the other half of that comparison, France as Barcelona, doesn’t really hold up. England, however, were certainly disciplined and held their shape well, even if they did defend awfully deep at times. While I’m never, ever going to be able to support an England team – any team – that contains such despicable excuses for human beings as John Terry, it’d be nice to see Roy Hodgson be able shove some of the nonsense and disrespect he received upon his appointment right down the throats of those dishing it out. One competitive game, of course, is a bit early to be suggesting that’s on the cards, however.

The stand out selection from both an England and Arsenal point of view was that of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. I have to say I thought there was a danger his inclusion in the squad was a little reminiscent of Theo Walcott’s in the 2006 World Cup, but the young man has obviously shown Hodgson enough in training, and acquitted himself well in a bright start, demonstrating purpose and intent, as well as not inconsiderable technique, and although he tailed off in the second half (as did all the players), he should be proud of his efforts.

A draw was probably the right result. England took the lead after a needless foul from Evra gave Gerrard the opportunity to put an excellent free kick onto the head of Joleon Lescott who nodded past Hugo Lloris, but our good friend Samir Nasri scored from distance a few minutes later with a shot I thought the goalie might’ve dealt with better, but he must’ve seen late.

In the other game, Sweden were beaten 2-1 by co-hosts Ukraine in their first outing in the competition. By all accounts it was an entertaining match, and I’ve seen the goals, but again it sounds like that should’ve been the one I watched. 35 year old Andriy Shevchenko was the hero for Ukraine, getting two goals in six minutes to turn the game on its head after Sweden had taken the lead through Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Seeing how I’m obviously completely failing to choose the right games to watch, and I have neither the time nor inclination to watch every single one, I’d welcome recommendations for the rest of the tournament please. Say hello in the arses.

Onto other things now, and there’s nothing really new to the Giroud to Arsenal rumours, but they are being reported by increasingly credible sources, Philippe Auclair going so far as to stick his neck out on Twitter, suggesting that there’s a £10m release clause we might activate. Gunnerblog has a more in-depth look at the situation.

In what I’m not sure are new quotes, Bacary Sagna is reported to have said that he expects Robin van Persie to still be at the club next season:

I’m looking forward to starting the season with him. I know there is a lot of speculation about his future but he’ll just want to focus on the European Championship and then afterwards he’ll focus on Arsenal.

He was our best player [last year] and the best player in the Premier League. He was magnificent and it was his best season for Arsenal so far.

I hope he’s going to score even more goals next year.

Fingers crossed for both us, and those Premier League defences he terrorised so effectively last season.

And finally for today, one of the heroes of Old Trafford, Sylvain Wiltord has announced his retirement from football. I have to say I didn’t know he was still playing, but he’s been at Nantes. Wiltord scored the goal that won us the league at Old Trafford in 2002, of course, and won a further league title with the club in 2004. He then left to go to Lyon, where he won the French title three years in a row, before moving to Rennes, Marseille, and Metz, before ending up at current club Nantes. And before he joined us, he’d already won the French league at Bordeaux. Quite the collection of medals to show his kids and grandkids, and I’m sure you’ll join me in wishing him all the very best for his retirement.

And that’s it from me. Arseblogger’s swap deal with Barcelona comes to an end today, Dublin preparing the jubilee style street party and river flotilla for his return as we speak. The poor chap emailed me just after 6am this morning, so he’s either  up late having been drinking all night, up early drinking trying to forget his imminent return, or, you know, is just up early. You can choose which scenario you feel most likely, but again, I’m sure you’ll want to join me in hoping he had a very well deserved and relaxing holiday, and that it won’t take him five years to book another one – even if that means you have to put up with my company again!

It’s been real, folks, and I look forward to talking to you again some time in the not too distant future.  Thanks for all your comments, compliments, and criticism too. There’ll hopefully be some updates to the arses, liveblog, and other parts of the site over the summer, depending on various commitments I can’t possibly all keep, but you can keep up with me and what’s happening with that and other stuff over on Twitter at @arseblog_tom.

Cheers for now.

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