Thursday, November 30, 2023

Two strikers return ‘home’, but don’t hold your breath

Morning all, and welcome to a brand new week. It’s all over for Holland and Robin van Persie as they were beaten by Portugal 2-1 last night.

I have to admit I was looking forward to an exciting, attacking game of football. With the Dutch needing to win by two clear goals – while hoping for a Germany victory over Denmark – I thought they’d really go for it. And in fairness to van Marwijk he did pick his most attacking line-up, dropping van Bommel and bringing van der Vaart into the midfield.

However, it left them unbalanced and with a defence about as effective as an ashtray on a motorbike they always looked vulnerable. They went ahead through van der Vaart, but it was quite obvious, almost from the kick off, that they looked like a team of attacking players all of whom expected somebody else to do the hard work for them. Quite why Robin van Persie, the most effective penalty box striker in Europe this season, was played out wide and so deep is anybody’s guess, especially when the main ‘striker’ was Huntelaar.

Two goals from Ronaldo sealed the deal for the Portuguese after Holland went chasing the game with a bizarre 3-1-6 formation. The lack of a left back (even if the one they had was pretty poor) meant they were exposed down that side and Nani should have scored before Ronaldo got the winner. The lack of cohesion and organisation was, frankly, pathetic from a team tipped by many to win the competition and you have to think it’s curtains for van Marwijk now.

From an Arsenal point of view it means Robin van Persie’s tournament is over and speculation regarding his future will ramp up, I’m sure. However, I’d urge some patience. Any expectation that an announcement will be made should be tempered with the realisation that he’s likely to go take a holiday – and a very well deserved holiday – so I’d be very surprised if we heard anything at all in the immediate future.

Trying to work out what this tournament means for his Arsenal future seems a bit of pointless task too. He doesn’t need to go and spend weeks with a group of individuals to know that for all our flaws we’re a team much more suited to getting the best out of his talents. Regardless of money on offer I think we all know that Robin’s decision will (probably) be made for footballing reasons, so I guess we have to wait and see. Either way, there’s little we (as fans) can do other than wait, so driving yourself mad expecting news straight away will only bother your blood pressure.

Another man on the way home, and thus free to sort out his future, is Nicklas Bendtner. He’s had a good tournament, assisting Denmark’s goal against Germany last night as well as being denied a pretty obvious penalty, and when added to the two goals he scored against Portugal you have to say he’s put himself in the shop window pretty well. Again, I’d expect this to run on a bit but he said very clearly he’d wait until after the Euros to find his new club and here we are.

It’s funny though – if you looked at these games in perfect isolation, you might say to yourself that Bendtner looks like the kind of of physical, ‘plan B’ forward we could certainly use while Robin van Persie’s tournament would hardly bring him to many people’s attention, that one great goal aside. Context is king, I guess.

Meanwhile, new boy Lukas Podolski was on target for Germany against Denmark, scoring the opening goal of the game on his 100th appearance for his country. That gives him a total of 44 goals for Germany, a really impressive scoring record, and hopefully he can now step it up a bit at club level too, which would obviously be very nice for us.

Tonight’s games see Spain play Croatia and a 2-2 draw would see both teams through regardless of what happens between Italy and Ireland in the other match. I think most of us have a fair idea of what’s going to happen in the latter game, especially as Trapper Tony has reacted to the hammering by Spain by picking pretty much all the same players again. He says he can’t, in the interests of fairness, start selecting his ‘B’ players, but surely the Spanish performance illustrates that some of his A players aren’t as A as he thinks? Leaving personal feelings aside for a moment, there still isn’t a person in the world who can convince me that Robbie Keane shouldn’t be wrapped in a carpet then rolled of a very high cliff. On fire. With a hundredweight of fire ants inserted into his anal passage.

Tonight’s result is irrelevant to Ireland and that’s what he should focus on, not whether or not anyone else thinks it’s ‘fair’ that he might select some squad players. It’s a chance to give some younger players invaluable experience of a major tournament, instead we’ll get to see Keane pointing and shouting as his career dwindles to a sluggish close, and Aidan McGeady doing step-overs before he crosses it to nobody and then makes a face like it’s someone else’s fault.

Of course there is some special motivation for the manager and Marco Tardelli (his assistant) but you just can’t help thinking the same players who struggled against Spain, thus thoroughly disheartened, could do with an injection of youth/enthusiasm, while some of the squad players who have been out training/working probably deserve a chance. Anyway, we’ll see what happens – and you know, as poor as Ireland have been I wouldn’t put it past us to get a result tonight.

The Premier League fixtures are announced this morning. Word on the street is we start at home to Sunderland but all will be revealed at 9am. We’ll have full coverage over on Arseblog News.

And finally, although there’s no transfer news today, you can keep up to date with the Transfer Window app made by @milkbarstudios who make the Arseblog iPhone/iPad app. It’s just 69p, so fill yer boots here.

Right then, that’s yer lot. Till tomorrow.

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