And so international week ends. That’s it, done and dusted. Ciao, Hasta Luego, Cheerio, Laters and Au Revoir. So long and thanks for all of the injuries because, let’s face it, that is now what we are concerned with. Specifically a limping Theo Walcott and Laurent Koscielny. The former I am sure will recover in time for the trip to Sunderland, preparing to set The Stadium of Light ablaze with a scintilatting display that sets Arsenal on the way to a comfortable victory. The latter? Well, the concern is tempered by Thomas Vermaelen being fit enough for a place on the Belgian bench yesterday evening; if he’s fit enough for that, he’s fit enough for Arsenal duty. Unless of course, he wasn’t really supposed to be involved in a friendly in which case, Yea Gods you accursed Diables Rouges! Be more careful, we’re only one injury away from Sebastian Squillaci!
For England, Jack Wilshere had an eventful but successful evening. Relieved no doubt that Joe Hart saved Ronaldinho’s penalty and subsequent follow up, the Arsenal midfielder shone and was rightly adjudged Man of the Match in most quarters, Martin Keown adopting the position of Cheerleader-in-Chief by opining that Wilshere played like a Brazilian. Everything was neat in his play, particularly his passes and movement into space.
Little wonder that Stuart Pearce felt the need to disengage his brain before opening his mouth. Fearing that he will not be offered a new contract, Pearce’s negotiating stance appears to be one of confrontation with a key decision-maker in that process. Inevitably, he has put his own selfish interests ahead of the senior squad. It seems that every year there is some sort of Under-21 championship in the Summer and this time, Uefa are holding theirs in Israel. Of course, as manager of that age-group, the former England captain wants to take the best possible squad which in his opinion will include a number who are on the fringes of the senior squad. He didn’t specifically mention Wilshere or Oxlade-Chamberlain, instead when asked about them he offered the opinion that they would make the squad stronger.
But it wouldn’t be Pearce if there wasn’t a crass statement to justify his own position. Having confronted just about every club manager, his attitude towards the players was made apparent,
I see a lot about players being rested, but where should the priority be on burnout? Should the clubs rest for the national team? We went down the same route six years ago when David Bentley pulled out the squad because he didn’t want to burn out over the summer. Now I can’t remember the last time I saw the kid play a game.
Sometimes there are no words which can capture the sheer despair. This is the head of the Under-21 team in this country.
Away from that, Olivier Giroud has been talking of his time so far at the club. Having waited some time for his first goal, the Frenchman is finding the net regularly with 14 in 24 appearances. Indeed he is right, this is a far better return than Robin van Persie managed in his opening season at the club but there are somewhat different circumstances to those records but I like that Giroud is confident enough to put himself up for comparison to the Dutch striker. This is a different Arsenal to last season, stronger in the sense that the goals are shared around between two or three players. That offers the chance that someone will make a difference although the downside of that is no one player being the ‘go to man‘ when things are tough, when the moment of magic is required. However, my suspicion is this aspect belongs more to the fans than the players, someone we seek comfort in.
Giroud praised Arsène’s man-management, noting that a video was recently made to improve his own performance. On the pitch, ON THE PITCH! I wonder what they are doing with the defence, are they doing it or is the conversation goes something like:
“You know everything you are doing?”
“You know everything you’ve learned about defending?”
“Well forget it. We’re going to start from scratch. This is the ball. This is the goal. This is Szczesny, he is our goalkeeper. Ball going past Szczesny into our goal is bad. We don’t like bad things happening, do we?”
There is almost something perverse about Arsenal have a weak defence, something akin to the universe being out of kilter. Don’t get me wrong, there is something equally pleasurable about having the team score frequently as well. Tweak that balance and the season could finish rather nicely for the team. But if it were that simple, then the solution would have been implemented already. Looking back you realise that it was right at the start of the season but stretched too far in the other direction subsequently.