More on Euro 2012, Transfer Speculation and Farewell to Wiltord
With Arsenal football out of the way till the pre-season adventures that come up next month, Gooners and other football lovers out there have kept themselves busy by getting two doses of European Championships football every day.
I also launched the Euro Gunner Watch series, which focuses on Arsenal’s ambassadors in Europe’s elite national teams in the European Championships. With the first round of fixtures are already out of the way, many footballers have given a good account of themselves, while others have failed to impress.
From an Arsenal perspective, the best player in the first round of fixtures was a much-maligned figure that was shipped out of the club in March. It’s fair to say that Andrey Arshavin hasn’t been on many Gooners good books and it was also stunning to know that some of them were unperturbed by his performance against Tomas Rosicky’s Czech Republic.
I read a great piece by Ryan Rocastle in Dave Seager’s blog tagged The Case of Arshavin: Who is Lazier, the fans, the management or the player. Trust me, it’s worth a read.
Irrespective of what you think about Arshavin, his quality has never been questioned. Many people point their fingers on the issue of his lethargy, lack of desire, failure to track back and what have you but I can’t remember much traditional Number 10’s that have a very good defensive side.
In my opinion, Arshavin would have been immense for Arsenal last season if he was deployed in the hole behind the striker after the departure of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri. Aaron Ramsey was handed the opportunity to make that position his and we all know how he fared. Had Tomas Rosicky failed to rejuvenate himself in the tail end of the campaign in his “favored position”, I wonder how we would have fared.
For those that want the diminutive Russian out of the Emirates, your wishes will soon come to pass because Arsenal has opened transfer talks with Zenit for a permanent deal. I’ll still prefer a player of Arshavin’s quality to remain at the club, and judging from our mysterious injury woes, he’ll surely get a run-out in the side.
Still sticking with player departures, Johan Djourou has been linked with a move to Italy for the umpteenth time. Djourou is odds on to begin next season as Arsenal’s fourth choice center back and he must be thanking his lucky stars that Jan Vertonghen opted for those Sp*ds ahead of Arsenal.
However, his career is gradually declining at such an early age and a move elsewhere will be in the best interests of the player (match fitness, a shot at consistency, more money?) and the club (profit from transfer fee, salary removed from massive wage bill, one less player to worry about).
Columns, gossips and rumors about Robin van Persie’s future have become as stale as seeing Lionel Messi score with his left foot but Bacary Sagna has decided to reignite the saga with his own take:
“I’m looking forward to starting the season with him. I know there is a lot of speculation about his future but he’ll just want to focus on the European Championship and then afterwards he’ll focus on Arsenal.
He was our best player [last year] and the best player in the Premier League. He was magnificent and it was his best season for Arsenal so far.
I hope he’s going to score even more goals next year.”
Van Persie had a stinker against Denmark and I believe that he’ll want to show his mettle in the remaining fixtures against Germany and Portugal. I’m a staunch Arsenal fan and a football lover of van Persie but I’ll prefer to see Klass-Jan Huntelaar start Holland’s next match as the center forward with the Flying Dutchman drifted to the right wing. That selfish bloke, Arjen Robben is equally adept on the left flank.
Moving over to potential signings, the news of Olivier Giroud joining the club has dominated the Arsenal blogosphere. In an exclusive interview with a prominent French radio station, Montpellier Herault SC’s manager, Rene Girard, has disclosed that Arsenal is trailing his star forward, Olivier Giroud, and the feeling is “mutual” because Giroud wants to come to Arsenal as well.
Arsene Wenger has had a stronghold of the French Ligue 1 and it has become one of his favourite trade zones. It’s also fabled that Giroud has a release clause of £10m and I don’t expect that fee to be a hitch for the Gunners.
With the imminent arrival of Lukas Podolski and speculation regarding van Persie’s future rife, Giroud will be a very good addition in my opinion. There’s also some talk of using Marouane Chamakh as makeweight to see the deal through, and it would be a brilliant piece of business if it walks through.
Giroud was very profilic for the surprise Ligue 1 winners last season and he shares some “traits” with Chamakh which includes, superb aerial ability, great physical build, good ball retention skills, brilliant link-up, good off the ball movement and a high work rate. However, Giroud is a better finisher than Chamakh.
A loan move to Montpellier Herault SC might seem like a step in the wrong direction for Chamakh but playing for the Ligue 1 winners will offer him an opportunity to rediscover his good Bordeaux form that got him to Arsenal in the first place. The French outfit will also grace the 2012/13 UEFA Champions League, so Chamakh will get a chance to strut his stuff among Europe’s finest.
Heading back to more Euro 2012 news, England’s skipper, Steven Gerrard has stated that he’s satisfied with the draw against France. Both European juggernauts shared the spoils in a battle that had the likes of the Ox in it.
Meanwhile, Czech captain, Tomas Rosicky wanted his teammates to step up their game against Greece, because they could face the ignominy of being the first side to exit the European Champions if they suffer another defeat.
They fared well to see out Greece while Russia and Poland shared the spoils to give Group A a nice outlook. The Russians lead the group with four points but they’ll have to throw caution to the wind against Greece.
Euro Sport shared its Euro 2012 Team of Round One and fair to say that it caused a “great debate” in the comments box.
Using the widely utilized 4-2-3-1 tactical setup, Euro Sport gave the goalkeeping award to Gigi Buffon for his performance against Spain. The defensive line was composed by Simon Poulsen, Simon Kjaer, Mats Hummels and Mathieu Debachy filling up the back line.
The five-man midfield was manned by Andrea Pirlo, Luka Modric, Andres Iniesta, Wesley Sneijder and Alan Dzagoev. Andriy Shevchenko filled up the attacking slot.
Finally, a true Arsenal legend, Sylvain Wiltord has decided to hang his boots after enjoying an illustrious career that saw him play for France’s finest before writing his name into Arsenal folklore. Wiltord enjoyed Ligue 1 success with Bordeaux before joining the Gunners.
He’ll be forever remembered for his goal in Old Trafford that handed the Gunners the title in the double winning 2001/02 campaign. He was also an integral part of the Invincibles side that won the league in stunning fashion in 2004.
After leaving the Gunners, he joined Olympique Lyonnais in 2004, winning the Ligue 1 three times in a row. He also had stints at Rennes, Marseille and Metz before hanging his boots in Nantes colors.
Farewell Monsieur Wiltord.
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