Morning all, welcome to a brand new week and let’s begin with some good news for an Arsenal man. Alexis Sanchez will be happy this morning as Chile won the Copa America overnight. The game finished 0-0 but Chile won 4-2 on penalties, meaning they retain the trophy having won it last year as well.
A fantastic achievement for them, and hopefully now he can go get some well deserved rest. Even when he wasn’t playing well last season he still put in all the effort you’d expect, and there’s no doubt that his form suffered because of fatigue. The lesson must be learned – and if it means we have to do without him for a few weeks at the start of the new campaign, then so be it.
Ideally we’d want to have made additions to the squad which will enable us to do that. We’re now heading towards the end of June, pre-season training starts in early July, so while there’s still plenty of time, there’s a need to make sure we have things moving in terms of the transfer market. Anyway, congratulations to Alexis, chill out with the home-dogs, and come back well-rested and recharged, please.
The other story from the Copa is that Lionel Messi, who missed a penalty in the shoot-out, announced his retirement from international football.
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) June 27, 2016
Blimey. He’s only 29 and obviously pretty emotional having lost his fourth final with Argentina, so we’ll have to wait and see if he reconsiders, but it’s quite the story all the same. Whether the World Cup in 2018 would have any appeal for him remains to be seen. Perhaps if it were being held elsewhere it might, but Russia probably doesn’t seem especially attractive after what we’ve seen at the Euros. Footballers are emotional though, he could still change his mind.
At the Euros France went through after a 2-1 win over Ireland who took the lead early on when Shane Long won a penalty which Robbie Brady converted. France huffed and puffed in the first half, but were far better in the second. Taking off Kante and moving Antoine Griezmann inside caused problems that proved decisive. In hindsight, while accepting France played a lot better in that second period, there will be huge regrets about both goals from an Irish point of view.
Griezmann’s header for the first was brilliant but when a little guy is allowed that much time and space to do that with his head, questions have to be asked. James McCarthy’s defensive awareness is not what it should be. The second goal was a mistake from the centre-half, Giroud’s fantastic knock-down gave the Atletico Madrid man all the time and space he needed for his second goal in three minutes. When the red card followed that was always going to be that and Ireland did well enough to keep it 2-1.
It might have been different though. If James McClean hadn’t wasted that brilliant chance to make a decent pass and get Ireland an equaliser and, if one of the FIVE officials had spotted the shot that deflected out for what should have been a corner, the passage of play that led to the second goal would not have happened. Still, France were clinical when Ireland had a wobble and their quality shone through in the end.
Giroud didn’t score but was fairly instrumental in both France’s goals, while Laurent Koscielny did well enough at the back. Later on, Mesut Ozil became the second Arsenal man to miss a penalty in as many days when he fluffed his lines from the spot as Germany cruised past Slovakia. I love Mesut, I think he’s a brilliant player, but he’s not very good at penalties. There’s just something unconvincing about the way he takes them, and we’ve probably got two or three players ahead of him in the pecking order at Arsenal anyway.
In the night’s final game, Belgium turned it on late to beat Hungary 4-0. They took an early lead then scored 3 in the last 10-12 minutes to add some real gloss to the scoreline. They’ll now face Wales in the quarter-finals.
Today we’ve got Italy v Spain at 5pm, which should be a cracker, and then later tonight it’s Iceland v England. Can the Icelandic dream continue?! Will that commentator shatter glass with his high-pitched shrieks? It would be a remarkable story if it did but you have to think England will have too much for them. We shall see later on. Just for laughs, I’m going for all the Is today, with wins for Italy and Iceland. Need something to get me back on track.
And if you fancy a flutter, Ladbrokes are offering new customers Iceland at 12/1 or England at 6/1 – £10 max bet and money back as a free bet if you lose. Get on it here.
Beyond that not much happening from an Arsenal point of view. We know Arsene Wenger is at the Euros. Has he seen anything he likes? His interest in Julian Draxler might have been piqued by his goal yesterday – a rather nice finish it was too – and with news that Henrikh Mkhitaryan is going to Man Utd, our options when it comes to finding a wide forward of the requisite quality are dwindling somewhat. No pressure boss, just a blisteringly effective wide-man, a clinical top class striker, and some other good players too. Easy peasy.
James and I will have an Arsecast Extra for you this morning. As ever if you have any questions or topics for discussion, send to @gunnerblog and @arseblog with the hashtag #arsecastextra. We’ll do our best to get to as many as possible. Podcast available before lunch.