A quiet end to the bank holiday weekend as plans for thousands of barbecues are hastily revised with the arrival of the traditional storm clouds over these shores. The final club match of the domestic season takes place this afternoon at Wembley as football goes into hiatus for a week or so, as preparations continue for Euro2016.
One Englishman celebrating is Calum Chambers, stalwart of the England Under-21 side which won the Toulon Tournament yesterday. That’s one more medal than the senior team will get this summer. Congratulations to him after a season he will mostly want to forget about, particularly as he spent a lot of it forgotten by Arsène.
Another of the youngsters enjoying the moment is Hector Bellerin. Fancied by Barcelona as a replacement for Dani Alves according to recent media speculation, he reportedly made a solid debut for Spain yesterday in the 3 – 1 win over Bosnia-Herzegovina. With the extent of Dani Carvajal’s injury not entirely clear, the Arsenal man has been told that his fortnight in Hayling Island is on hold as he may be needed in France for the national squad.
Former Arsenal target Emir Spahic received his marching orders during the game which is just about the only thing I remember about him when he was the subject of transfer gossip. His disciplinary record was on a par with Mark Dennis – you’ll show your age if you remember seeing him play! – whose was at one time the worst in English football and I seem to recall, the worst in the history of top flight football in this country.
It brings memories of Italia ’90 to mind when David Seaman missed out on the tournament due to a late injury, replaced by Dave Beasant of Wimbledon (or Chelsea, I can’t remember if he moved on by then and it’s not important enough to know either although probably quicker to look up than typing this sentence).
It didn’t do ‘Safe Hands’ any harm in the long run and with so many Arsenal players missing from the England squad, you have to wonder if getting a proper rest in the summer was a key reason why 1990/91 turned out to be such a good season.
That and Anders Limpar, of course.
The end of the football season has always been a time for tours, for both clubs and country. England used to travel to the footballing outposts of the Empire as well as those emerging nations whose support they needed for doomed World Cup bids. Some Arsenal players endured England careers on these occasions – I think Alan Sunderland scored in Australia or New Zealand a few decades ago but never got much of a look in beyond that.
Nothing, of course, beats Ray Wilkins outburst in South America during the 1977 tour when a ballboy in the match in Montevideo was on the receiving end of Butch’s verbal volley as he stood right next to a pitchside microphone. Mary Whitehouse had a word or two to say about it all the following day.
There’s not much else around. We’re linked with a £19m left back who’s quite good which would mean Kieran Gibbs leaving and Nacho losing his place in the XI. Not our highest priority, I’m sure you’ll agree. The transfer talk will ratchet up in coming weeks with Euro2016 and Copa América Centenario commencing. Make the most of the lull!
And if you’re bored, there’s always this article to read.