No sooner had the summer’s hot air been stifled as the transfer window slammed shut than winter’s chill winds are let in as the media tried to force open the January window four months early. Some, like The Heil, look longer term confidently report that next summer Arsenal will activate Marco Reus’ £20m release clause. What was it the chairman said it yesterday’s comments? “It’s always hope with Arsenal…”
A rare occasion when international friendlies provide blessed relief, forcing the lunacy off the back pages. Per Mertesacker received acknowledgement from the DFB for his international career as Germany celebrated their World Cup win by wearing four stars on their shirts for the first time, promptly putting in a two star performance. They’ll get used to it; England have trodden that path for years. It’s just a shame there is but one star above the Three Lions…
Amid an outstanding display of apathy from the paying public, the FA went ahead with the match at Wembley where a crowd of 40,181 saw England defeat Norway. Quite how many paid is another matter but surely no more than 35,000. It begs the question whether it was worth staging the match at English football’s HQ? No disrespect to Norway but they are not big box office and this match would be better staged at a Premier League ground with lower running costs and a better atmosphere.
Of course there is more interest in the England team from an Arsenal perspective. Distinctly average might be the general media consensus but more importantly, unscathed. I am not going to worry about England in a friendly, whether they win or lose, just whether the club’s contingent came through uninjured. None will be disappointed with their display, particularly this early in the season.
In some cases, these matches work in Arsenal’s favour. Fitness levels can be maintained or improved, ahead of the first important cluster of club matches or in the case of Calum Chambers, it is a different type of footballing education. He learns to deal with pressure and even in friendlies, there is a lot when England are involved, as well as playing a different style and against different tactics. So long as his confidence isn’t destroyed by a media mauling, he really cannot lose.
Attention drew to Wilshere for the first half, busy trying to force England forwards, as did Oxlade-Chamberlain but like the team’s performance, there is a sense of more to come. It’s genuinely hard to be excited or distressed by how an Arsenal player performs in an international friendly.
Which brings us to Danny Welbeck and his cameo. I watched his performance differently, the energy and enthusiasm as well as other attributes more striking since Monday’s move to Arsenal. He imbued the England attack with pace and certainly displayed aggressive strength in challenges which is welcome in the club game. With Rooney captaining the side, it is not clear if Welbz will fit into the starting line-up. It’s a shame the England armband isn’t like the Arsenal one; we can’t expect Rooney to be transferred to another nation unfortunately.
At one point, Welbeck got a taste of what life will be like at Arsenal, skinning a defender, he slid a delicious pass across the face of goal. The Norwegian ‘keeper was stranded, centre backs facing the wrong way, too timid to intercept, it needed the merest of touches to be a goal. The England forwards were ten yards back and nowhere to be seen in support. That frustration will become second nature Danny, you’ll get used to it at club level as well. Welcome to Arsenal.
A regular theme in the last few days is that the club has a British core, confirmed with the official squad announcement. How some have laughed, throwing the criticism of Wenger’s anyone-but-English-players philosophy back into the media faces. The briefest moment of superiority as the first taster of what is to come emerged; “Jack Wilshere and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain must prove they are more than youthful promise as England’s young lions fail to impress once again“, rang the headline in Britain’s most vituperative news outlet.
The penny must be dropping that when Hodgson has been hounded out of a job and to within an inch of his life, Wenger will be held to blame for England’s failure; he is after all, club guardian of the hopes of a nation. It’s a battle he can never win and one we’re better off ignoring. If it’s going to upset you, don’t read it is surely the mantra many would be well served adopting?
Elsewhere, his agent has kicked up a stink but if Joel Campbell thought he was about to prove himself a valuable member of the squad, it’s got off to a bad start. His call-up for a senior international rated below Yaya Sanogo’s inclusion in the French Under-21 squad on the official website.
It’s just not happening, is it Joel? Let’s hope the second stage of the season turns out better…
Finally, Arsenal Ladies take on their Notts County counterparts in the Women’s Super League Continental Cup Semi-Final on Sunday 7th September whilst Chelsea take on Manchester City Women at Hyde FC in the other semi-final. The Continental Cup (WSLCC) is the league cup for teams from the Women’s Super League. The other semi-final sees . Women’s football has moved on considerably since my aunt played in the 1970s, so if you can attend, I’d encourage you to go to Boreham Wood FC and it carries the added bonus of being a way to involve younger children in Arsenal. More information can be found here.