Sunday, July 21, 2024

PL fixtures released + the Euros delight and bore in equal measure

Morning all.

Let’s start with the Premier League fixtures which were released yesterday, and it’s fair to say that we’ve got a tricky start. We open with Wolves at home, which is relatively kind, but immediately afterwards we’re away at Aston Villa, followed by Brighton at home, then after the first Interlull of the season it’s the North London derby at the Toilet Duck, and then Man City away.

On the Arsecast Extra on Monday, we were asked to choose our first three away games, and I actually went for the first two. Go to Villa and get some revenge, and get the neighbours out of the way. I did then go for Ipswich in the next game rather than Man City, but as a famous meat-based loaf once sang, two out of three ain’t bad. It looks a bit daunting, especially as there’s a Champions League tie between the derby and City, but every game is a challenge and you have to play them some time or another.

If it goes well, it’ll be a very encouraging way to start a season, and because it’s so early, there’s time to make up for it if it’s not quite as positive. The run-in looks a bit more kind than last season, so it’s up to us to make sure we’re still competitive at that point. Another thing to point out is that we’re away from home on the final day, and the penultimate round of fixtures is going to be held on Sunday May 18th, because the FA Cup final is scheduled for Saturday May 17th. We’re due to play Newcastle that weekend, quite what happens if either/both are in the final, I don’t know, but I guess the game would be pushed to the following midweek.

And if you think fixtures can’t get any more complicated, here’s a piece in the Independent about how shifting the dates of AFCON 2025 – to accommodate FIFA’s risible and completely unnecessary expanded Club World Cup – will cause more chaos down the line. It really does feel as if some kind of effective players union is needed, because there actually is a thing as too much football, we’ve probably crossed that line already, and we’re going in entirely the wrong direction.

Meanwhile at the Euros we were treated to a quite glorious game yesterday afternoon when Turkey played Georgia in Dortmund. Not two of the most glamorous teams in the tournament, so this was like going to a film you didn’t really fancy, but coming away enthralled at a low-key classic. The first two Turkish goals were sensational. First Mert Muldur with the kind of finish that said ‘The truth is out there … swerving beautifully into the top corner’, it was so aesthetically pleasing. It reminded me a little of the goal Benjamin Pavard scored for France against Argentina at the World Cup in 2018, but I liked this one even more.

Georges Mikautadze equalised for Georgia, their first ever goal at a European Championships, but Arda Guler – just 19 years old – curled home a superb goal to put Turkey back in front. Before that goal, Turkey had enjoyed 62% possession and passed the ball with 91% accuracy. Georgia’s response saw them flip it, taking 65% of possession themselves, and how close did they come to getting an equaliser?! A shot that agonisingly hit the bar after brilliant work from Giorgi Kochorashvili, two players getting in each others way and one of them clumping the ball wide when it looked easier to score, a free kick that hit the post, and then one brilliantly defended – headed over the bar from a close range shot.

At this point the Georgia keeper, Giorgi Mamardashvili, had gone up for a free kick and subsequent corner – like this was the dying embers of a cup semi-final rather than the first game of three in a tournament group stage – and when Turkey got it clear, Kerem Akturkoglu raced clear to make it 3-1 and seal the win. Genuinely extraordinary stuff, incredibly enjoyable, and the game of the tournament so far by some distance.

Which made the dour nature of Portugal v Czech Republic in the later game so acute. The first half was interminably boring. Portugal’s technical dominance was evident, but it was basically the international equivalent of Man City v Everton. ZZzzzzzz. The second half goal from Lukas Provod put the cat among the pigeons a little, and it was a hell of strike from outside the box, a recurring theme of these Euros so far.

The equaliser came from an own goal, an awful mistake from the Czech keeper, and after having one disallowed for offside, Portugal’s winner arrived late – a deflected cross from Pedro Neto saw the ball squirm between the defender’s legs, and the son of Porto’s persistently irritating manager fired home from close range. Cristiano Ronaldo was happy, therefore I was not. Sorry Portugal fans, but it is what it is! I do wonder if Arsenal still have eyes on Neto, if they can be reassured about his injury issues, he’d be a fantastic option for us.

Today, we have Croatia v Albania in the opening game, Germany take on Hungary in mid-afternoon, before Scotland face Switzerland in the evening. For more on all of the Euros, join us on Patreon for another exclusive podcast this morning.

For now, have a good one.

Related articles

Share article

Featured on NewsNow

Support Arseblog

Latest posts

Latest Arsecast