Wales Woe, Brexit, EFL Trophy & No News Is Transfer News

tgtbtuAnd so the Welsh dream is over. The dragon was slain not by George this time but by Cristiano. For the first time that I can remember, Ronaldo stepped up to the plate when it mattered; a big match needed a big intervention and he did so, twice in almost as many minutes.

It wasn’t a great game by any standards. The only thing emerging from this tournament is that ‘tactical battle’ is the new dull. Wales weren’t as fired up as I’d expected and they didn’t force the game, almost believing the way they’d lulled Belgium into a false sense of security would work against the Portuguese. It didn’t and you were left wishing that they played their natural high-tempo game.

And I think they missed Aaron Ramsey although to what extent I’m not too sure. I don’t think it was decisive as it struck me that he would have been as isolated and as frustrated as he was against England. One thing was clear; Gareth Bale is nowhere near the level of being the world’s best player or if he is, these are dire times indeed.

Fast? Good grief, yes; the one run he had left defenders strewn in his path but there was no end product nor did he ever seem like imposing himself on the match; lifting and inspiring his compatriots wasn’t happening, no matter how many thumbs sideways he gave them. Perhaps they took that to mean, “Nice idea but there’s no way you’ve got the ability to make it work”?

So we move onto Germany v France tonight. It’s an interesting battle, one different to the quarter-finals. It won’t be as open as France’s trouncing of Iceland but an early goal for the hosts would probably be the ideal scenario. Löw showed his willingness to numb the senses by matching the Italians so we can only hope that the French are on fire as they were in the first half on Sunday.

On the Arsenal front, Arsène is worried about the impact of the EU Referendum vote on English football. Isolationism, he proclaimed, wouldn’t do the game any good. Yeah, because inclusionism has really benefited us, hasn’t it?

OK, so it did in the past but the days when Premier League clubs could walk into any continental club and buy their best players is long gone. Wages in Spain and Germany are comparable, if not better, than in England and with the lack of European success coming the Premier League’s way, the allure for the best players in the world is dulled.

There’s a disconnect between the way the game sees itself and reality. The Premier League is, by and large, exciting to watch but that doesn’t mean its technically proficient. And there’s a worrying naïvety about the tactical acumen of coaches, even the widely respected and experienced ones.

Even the ones who’ve previously enjoyed European success are unable to outwit their opponents, with the collective technical deficiencies insurmountable. Until the coaching becomes quicker witted and the players better, an English Champions League winner seems some way off.

Last season’s Premier League was held as some proof that the rest of the top flight caught up with the big clubs. Judging by the disarray at United, Chelsea and City, I’d dispute that. Even Arsenal were shambolic to some extent, with the habitual lack of depth crucifying us when goals became hard to come by. Others are addressing their shortcomings whilst we wait to see how this summer will pan out.

I expect Conte, Mourinho and Guardiola to reinvigorate their respective clubs and whilst Arsenal have the comfort that continuity brings, we have to respond to that revitalisation elsewhere if there are genuine title aspirations. For too long we’ve been a ‘half-a-season’ side, derailed by loss of form or injuries, or both, and that’s something which the manager should be addressing.

It’s the final year of his final contract and if he’s serious about renewing the deal, I’d expect him to go hell for leather in the transfer market to get the 2 or 3 players he needs to take the squad to the next level. That’s genuinely challenging for the title and not claiming second place evidences it. Finishing double-digits behind the champions isn’t challenging, we’ve got to push all the way and hope others falter rather than being the ones with the collapse.

Elsewhere, the club is putting its academy into the EFL Trophy, formerly the Johnstone Paint Trophy. Sixteen top flight clubs accepted the invitation to join the competition, a move which faced some hostility from Football League clubs who were – and remain – concerned that it is the thin end of the wedge in admitting the Academies into the league itself.

I can see the benefits from the Premier League clubs themselves but understand the fears. The question that the Football League has to answer is whether the academies or National League clubs offer more revenues in an expanded pyramid? I don’t think it’s clear-cut because Arsenal, for example, would almost certainly not play at the Emirates for fear of ruining the pitch for the first XI.

I don’t think there’s a straightforward answer either. One thing is certain; English football has to find a way of reducing its fixture list and restructuring the game into 5 divisions of 18 – 20 teams is the major component of the solution.

On the transfer front, there’s no news. Genuinely, there isn’t. We’ve been linked with the strikers, talked to their representatives and are now waiting for the ink cartridge at Everton and Lyon fax machines to be changed before things can move forward.

Finally, a note that there is a new playlist over at Dad’s Jukebox, for those who are interested. And those that aren’t as well…

’til Tomorrow.

143 thoughts on “Wales Woe, Brexit, EFL Trophy & No News Is Transfer News

  1. C,

    I am getting quite cross with you falling down on your scouting duties!!!! 😀

    It appears that strong rumours are linking us with possibly signing Djibril Sidibe a full back from Lille.

    I know nothing about him, except he is 23, was on his way to Monaco (might still be) and is just under 6′ tall.

    Over to you! 😀

  2. Bill

    Indeed, who knows if he’ll be able to morph into a top striker just because he has most of the attributes, the wizard if he comes here and a lot of time on his side.
    Say he doesn’t, we’ve still added a 22 year old German international to grow with the likes of iwobe, xhaka, elneny, Jack, bellerin.
    I’d rather not see him add goals to his game in a year or two and become out of our range.

  3. I guess that Rodriguez, if the above rumour is correct, the Dortmund player and mate of Xhaka won’t now be coming to the Emirates?

  4. We were linked with a different left back a couple of days ago, I wonder if Gibbs is off as these links are quite consistent. Best not be Monreal.

  5. NewsNow are reporting that AW is not prepared after all to meet the buy out fee of £34m for Lacazette.

    Wham and the Spuds are circling!

  6. @Henry

    I was reading about that and honestly got frustrated with us being linked with a defenders.

    So here is what I know:

    He’s a LB that can play both FB positions (Arsene killing 2 birds with one stone, bye bye Gibbs and Debuchy), strong pacy defender who is really good attacker but also solid as a defender. Lille bought him if Im not mistaken when they sold Debuchy. Strong in the air, isn’t one to go quick to ground but would rather use his pace and power to deal with attackers.

    This deal came out of nowhere and honestly I didnt think anything of it because he was ON HIS WAY to Monaco. He is the stabdby FB for the France Euro squad.

  7. @Henry

    I saw that Lacazette rumor and it made no sense because 34m for him is great value for money (though I’m sure somebody will come in and say we don’t need him we have Giroud).

    This is turning into a strange summer because I’m getting the feeling that Arsene is reinforcing the defense and feels we have enough in attack.

    Do you get the feel with this Sidibe move?

  8. I’m not the greatest fan of Lacazette but seriously if Wenger thinks that £34m is too much in this market then God help us.

    Sanogo it is then (although even if he was free it was still no bargain).

  9. The French will have to keep it together otherwise it’s gonna be a long night for them.

  10. Never a pen in a million years. If I was a German I’d be furious, dodgy ref or just following the script? Never can tell in football these days…..

  11. Thought it was Oliver’s foot speed at first but on 2nd look he couldn’t get the ball under control fast enough. Took 2-3 touches more than was needed and should of squared to Antoine anyway, poor.

    More bent than a right angle that decision, I lose interest when the game gets tilted.

  12. Giroud just couldn’t sort his feet out for that chance. It’s something we’ve seen often when he’s in a red and white shirt. Not his fault because it’s just not part of his skill set. But I’ve already got that image in my mind for next season when we will need a striker who can convert those chances when he’s bearing down on goal.

    I’ve got no problem with bringing in Draxler and trying to convert him to CF. At worst we have a great winger and if we are lucky we create an excellent striker. I just don’t believe that we buy a striker if Draxler comes in this summer and that means we have to hope he works out as a striker immediately. That’s a fairly tough call even if he does it in his own league, to do it in a tough league you have never played in before is a massive ask. If I though we would buy Draxler and a striker I would be up for it, but I just don’t see that happening.

  13. Think that pen changed the game and that was not a pen. If that was a pen for France than Schweinsteiger should have had a penalty when Pogba pulled him clearly down in the box.

  14. France v Portugal it is then.

    Penalty changed the game, since then France hit them on the counter and that’s the match. France spent most of the match defending and surely Bill will tell us that possession isn’t shit.

    O yea and Giroud is still trying to reach the box!

  15. Congratulations to Giroud and Kos for making the final, certainly hope they can win it, would do well for them and Arsenal.

  16. Germany certainly miss Gomez.

    Which again shows how much Giroud does for this French team. He was bit isolated today but there is a firm reason why he (and Gignac) get the nod over Lacazette for France.

    He can play in any of Payet, Sissoko and most importantly Greizzman who has been getting better and better as the tournament progresses.

    And that physical presence/threat in the box is exactly what gives Greizzman the chance to nip in and steal the goal.

    France had to weather the storm for long periods. I thought the turning point was the penalty.

    Mentioned to the person next to me that I felt Shweinsteiger was going to make a mistake. Someone should write a memo to the German team that world war two was some decades past and they do not need to keep putting their hands up in surrender.:D

    To be fair to Germany,t hey threaten well in the first half, Draxler was energetic, Kimmich was a threat when they started to find their range to the fullbacks.

    Hope France goes on to do the business against the Portugese. Allez les Bleu.

    Giroud and Koscielny all the way!

  17. Could not sort his feet? I suppose you’d say that for his goal against Iceland?

    Typical nonsense. GIroud has had 10 goals in 9 appearances for France. Even when he is less effective, he has an influence on the game y his sheer presence (Neur making an error for Greizzman to profit because of GIroud)

    The OG has some of the deftest touches by a big player to play in his team mates.

    As far as Draxler converted to a striker is concern, I certainly think he may have the prerequisites. He reminds me a bit of RVP but with pace.

    But it may take a bit of time for him to transition into the new position. Wenger will have to have a back up for Giroud IMO even so. Maybe he may feel Sanogo could take on some of the more one dimensional physical role but he may not have enough know how to play others in as efficiently. Or maybe he thinks Walcott can still contribute but I remain unconvinced he can.

    In the end, I think it boils down to who is available for the price. We may have to wait out the potential attention of certain clubs who can afford to pay more than us. If they spend their wad on other players, it may leave the door open for us to bring some of our targets in at a better price.

    Lacazette rumoured close to 40m may not have the necessary function for a team like us who tends to play against entrenched opposition. But if push comes to shove, he may have to be an option.

    Morata is certainly a more ready made project that Wenger may feel he can fully unleash in potential but again it will be due to pricing and the latent attention of others.

    Similarly a Draxler or even Higuain should he decide he’s had enough of the lights and sounds of Naples.

    There is merit in patience in this game but we have to of course also be aware of the fact that the second tier market is having a bit of a squeeze put on it because of the money in the PL for other clubs and China.

    So its a delicate balance but if you think we are just going to pay hostage price, you have another thing coming for simply good enough. We really need a capability upgrade.

    Wenger has not been afraid to spend with Granit at 30m++

    So we will have to wait and see how things develop. Plenty of silly money spending rumoured ahead with both City and United willing to spend in 100m excess if rumours are of course to be believed.

  18. ?

    What’s Flamini got to do with France? He’s retired enjoying a nice rest.

    What an excellent player he was for us.

    😉

  19. Squad for next season is well balance should we add a striker and (IMO) a Cback :

    CF – Giroud Walcott – Sell Walcott iMO for new striker.
    RW – Alexis Ox
    LW – Campbell Iwobi
    AM – Ozilo Ramsey
    CM – Santi Jack
    DM – Granit Coq
    UM – Elneny (Zelalem?)
    RB – Bellerin Chambers
    CB – Per (New Player)
    CB – Koscielny Gabriel
    LB – Monreal Gibbs
    GK – Cech (Either of Ospina or Szsc)

    COnsidering the injuries we nomarlly sustain, I’d say we have about the right numbers in midfield.

    Per and Koscielny still superb with understanding but both older so will be great to have a Cback bed in now particularly with Gabriel still yet to fully convince.

    If we get the striker, we should think about cashing in on Theo if he gets a good offer. He doesn’t even seem quite as effective out wide anymore.

    Gnabry, Sanogo and Jeff may also get a look in maybe. Wenger is likely to assess them stringently this coming weeks. Zelalem too who has been great for Rangers albeit in second tier Scotland but maybe the experience has toughen him.

  20. I believe we were one of the top 3 in terms of goals scored from counter attacks last season, and that’s with playing Giroud.

    The idea that we are addicted to possession football is also highly over stated.

  21. Indeed, for about six months.

    Fair play to him for making the most of a limited skill set though 😉

  22. Wavey

    How can you say that Drax would be a great winger when he averages 3 league goals per season for the last 3 years? We have plenty of players who could do that. Counting on a player to live up to immense potential often does not work very well outside of Santori’s imagination

  23. Santori

    Look at the stats. It certainly seems like we are addicted to ball possession and short passes around midfield. I think almost all of the top 10 games for passes completed were Arsenal players last season. Even the much maligned Ramsey and Flamini had one of the top 10. Elneny had the highest number of passes completed in any single game and he only played a few games. Xhaka lead Euro2016 in passes completed by a whopping 35% margin in passes completed over the second place player after the first 3 games. I am willing to bet we have lead the league in both stats for nearly every one of the last 8 years.

  24. Santori

    What is wrong with you? Obviously I’m talking about the point in the game at which Giroud was clean through on goal and the defender managed to get back at him. The studio commentators at half time were making a joke over it being down to his pace. Clearly in that instance it wasn’t about pace, he seemed to lose control of the ball and struggled to bring it back into his stride pattern properly. “Typical nonsense”, who the hell are you to start throwing out snide comments about other people’s opinions? You can have an opinion and if it differs to others fair enough, but why do you insist on being rude to people?

    Bill

    Draxler’s scoring is an issue, but other elements of his game are impressive. I accept that you do need more goals from the other attacking positions and he would have to improve that part of his game.

  25. @ Wavey but even with the poor touch he should have fashioned a shot away he was still ahead of Howedes at the time, for me if he had that extra yard of pace that poor touch would have been irrelevant, there is lies my issue with Giroud if he had just an extra yard of pace he would be absolute class but as it is he is just a good striker.

  26. Interesting reports in the transfer market:

    Apparently we have agree basic terms with Lukuka.

    Subotic is set to move to the PL with so many reports saying its between us and Spuds.

    Morata apparently favors us.

    We have bid for Draxler.

    Lastly, we are set to sign LB (but can play both as he was originally signed by Lille as a replacement for Debuchy) Djibril Sidibe.

  27. Confidence level on those C ?

    Haven’t seen those stories over here but I may be looking in the wrong places!

  28. @andy

    Confidence level:

    Lukuka: not very high

    Subotic: this one might have some legs given Dortmund have spoken on it

    Morata: have no confidence because he has been rumored to go everywhere.

    Djibril Sidibe: pretty high actually because this makes sense given Debuchy wants out, Gibbs probably does too and this lad can play both FB positions

    Draxler: luke warm at best

  29. It feels like Arsene is trying to reinforce the defense and may feel we have enough in attack. I mean the signing of Xhaka, the Sidibe (who Lille literally had a deal in place and the player was on his way to have a medical with them before Arsenal swooped in out of nowhere) and the Subotic. Has the feeling of a manager who believes in his strikers and wants to strengthen his defense.

  30. @Big Al

    I know your lurking around here, did you see that Marcelo Bielsa has quit Lazio only 2 days after taking the job. Was reading this morning that he has been tipped to take over Argentina with many thinking that he can not only convince Messi to continue playing for Argentina but build a system to help and get the best out of all of their attacking talent.

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