Giggles from the back of class
“Smith, answer when I call your name from the register”
“My name is Hamez Smith…”
It’s how Sunday mornings should be; quiet, peaceful, an air of calm. The club’s website screams of eleven departures, a headline that many would like see altered to include the word “arrivals” instead. A quick glance at Newsnow’s headlines confirms that number of incoming deals all confirmed, to be true. A pity that the headline makers are of such dubious quality.
Talk surrounds Olivier Giroud being offered a new deal but he’s at the World Cup so anything will have to wait until then to be signed. Presumably the same logic applies to transfers, with all Arsenal’s deals surrounding players left in the tournament so that narrows the field to sixteen countries. Easy game to play this
The World Cup recommenced yesterday with Brazil proving the burden of host nation is heavy to bear. It is generally always that way as they scrambled through by the narrowest of margins in a penalty shootout under the Belo Horizonte sunshine. The match itself could – should – have been decided by the time Howard Webb signalled the final whistle. The crossbar reverberated from Pinilla’s thunderous strike in the dying embers of extra-time. Julio Cesar proved to be Brazil’s hero as he saved twice and watched gratefully as Jara’s penalty beat him but rebounded from the inside of the post to safety. Harsh on the industrious Chileans who were more than a match for their hosts for more than ninety minutes.
Alexis Sanchez is garnering all of the attention with Arsenal reportedly chasing his signature, racing alongside the likes of Manchester United and Liverpool and he dictated large passages of play. More impressive I thought, was Arturo Vidal about whom Arsène has been effusive. The midfielder ran himself tirelessly in support of his cause, buckling his swash in a way that seems well-suited to the Premier League.
Brazil though are through and their path to the final is blocked by another South American barrier, the Colombians continued their march to glory with a straightforward win over the toothless Uruguayans who proved that the defeat to Costa Rica was not as much of a fluke as has been portrayed; they are a one-man team and questions are rightly asked about Cavani. A forward is only as good as the service he receives but for a man whose transfer value is £60m, I expected more. Does his fee indicate the paucity of talent in strikers at the moment? Cavani has been hugely unimpressive this summer and whilst the World Cup has been a graveyard for better reputations than his, anyone paying more than £25m for him this window either has more money than sense or a desperate requirement for a distinctly average forward.
And that’s why manager should never buy on the basis of an international tournament. Talk about snap judgements…
The opposite has been true of James Rodriguez, whose anglicised name bears no semblance to its pronunciation to the mirth of many a school child. He was impressive again last night, certainly do all that he can to justify his reputation. A good, clean-cut hero was just what FIFA wanted following Suarez and Ghana’s shambolic departure from the competition, it is what they have found. The question remains as to how good the Colombians actually are; they emerged unscathed from a poor group and comfortably beat one of the weakest of the last sixteen but in their defence, they can only beat the team in front of them.
Today’s matches offer the chance to continue assessing Joel Campbell who will no doubt be relishing the prospect of playing Greece. Their physical approach to the game is the closest to the Premier League that international football has to offer; it will be interesting to see how he copes with this and the expectations that surround the Costa Ricans. No longer the minnows, most expect them to turn the Greeks over and defeat will probably be a huge disappointment against the most predictable of squad of the knockout phase. But it’s a policy that has served the Greeks well and underestimating them is a dangerous thing for Campbell & co; the wins over Italy and Uruguay have no doubt imbued confidence but complacency is a comfortable bedfellow in this scenario.
Meanwhile everyone’s favourites for the tournament face Mexico and frankly anything but a Dutch win will be unexpected. Anything but a Dutch win is what everyone wants though. The bloodied nose issued by the ‘underdog’ in these matches is unexpectedly expected in this tournament, even with the predictability of results coming. Good luck to them all.