All non-German Arsenal players exited the Euro 2012 tournament at the quarters, so no more Tomáš Rosický, no more Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Theo Walcott or even new signing Olivier Giroud, the 6’3 striker who scored the most goals in the Ligue 1 with Montpellier this past season. Giroud knows what it feels like to win titles and scores goals. The experience can only contribute promisingly to the operations of the club. Hopefully Giroud beds easily into the team and may his explosiveness out of the gate be everything one could hope for in the world of combustability. State of the Union: Arsenal, Polkraine 1 and Polkraine 2: Electric Vindaloo, we will miss you, but it’s hard to Arsenal it up properly Polkrainically with the spine of the team now largely absent.
Not to forget, of course, the first big new signing of the summer, Lukas Podolski, who quietly roars into the semis after he and Per Mertesacker quietly sat behaving themselves on the bench against Greece. Considering Rosický did something distinctly not good to his Achilles region and Walcott’s never-100% hamstring is again sub-100, one can appreciate Joachim Loew giving the guys whatever breathers they need. Mertesacker must be itching to get some time on the field, but that’s a different matter entirely.
Increasingly it looks like Germany/Spain in the finals and we’ll either see two newer players (Per and Poldi) lifting the trophy, or perhaps our former captain (good for him) and the main principals of the “Barca DNA” mafia (very bad people). I prefer Germany, and not just because it’s trendy right now to knock Spain’s Barcelona-based style of play. I grant either team permission to win the trophy, as long as the winning team goes fully at it and makes the event into a great final. Or Portugal. A Germany/Portugal matchup could be interesting. Oh right, we saw that already. It ends 1-0 to Germany, and Ronaldo does nothing of interest.
At the very least, please no Spain/Holland World Cup 2010 extra time action, unless it’s scoreless only until extra time where both teams drop the act and go batshit-crazy-nuts, racking up dozens of perfect downfield passes and goal after goal after goal. Or even just one mythic goal, but one that lends itself to a dozen interesting different camera angles. You get the full feel for how the goal action went down in incrementally more comprehensive views, even though it was just the one photogenic ball that crossed the goalpost plane. 12 different replay-as-new-play camera angles make for a 12-goal video replay frenzy.
In other, self-aggrandizing news, Nicklas Bendtner’s agent claims he’s attracting interest from major global clubs, so that’s clearly a done deal. I mean, he’s the agent. Meanwhile, Sebastien Squillaci reportedly is bound for Ligue 1, and we might be offloading Carlos Vela and Denilson to teams in La Liga. Overoptimistically, unwisely assuming all those go through, Johann Djourou and Andrey Arshavin both want new career moves, as well. First it looked like Arshavin to Zenit St. Petersburg, then he pissed everyone off by saying it was the Russian public’s fault for unrealistic expectations of Russia getting further than they did, or doing more in the match time they had. Then he apologized. So, maybe a Russian deal could still work, but apparently the Arshavins dig living in London, for what it’s worth. Where does that leave the man, then? QPR? West Ham? Fulham? Drop down a level and start raking in the bucks and that shimmery Crystal Palace adulation? As for Djourou, a mooted move to Turkey for the Swiss defender has popped up occasionally in the news.
The Robin van Persie issue remains as uncertain and unresolved as ever, but the new signings represent on the one hand a direction out of the wastelands if Robin leaves, and on the other, our ambition to push forward, theoretically what Robin’s been waiting for. Either way, Robin will seek fame and fortune elsewhere or he’ll seek fame and fortune with Arsenal. It should be decided before long. That will in turn trigger activity on the Walcott front. If anything positive came out of the shambles of last year’s summer transfer market, the transfer activity thus far this summer has shown a fundamental difference in intention from the club.
What of the fates of Marouane Chamakh, Park Ju-Yung and wantaway Lukasz Fabianski? Diaby? Gervinho? Considering Diaby’s once again out injured, it doesn’t seem like too many clubs will be banging down that particular door. And one would think Gervinho still has a year to make it with the side, despite starting berths on the left hand side of attack drastically shrinking in availability lately. Podolski would seem the natural starter for the left, with Robin and/or Olivier Giroud in front (or Robin dropping back into the hole) and Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain duking it out for wide right. Gervinho will need a hefty and timely dose of good form to force his way into the starting XI. Fortunately for the Ivorian, he always seems like he’s just one skill away from really making it work with his jerky cutback style. He’s got goals in him, somewhere. Maybe he’ll find new ways of impressing as an impact sub, who knows.
Hopefully, long term injuries to Bacary Sagna and Jack Wilshere will heal apace, as will last-season injuries to Emmanuel Frimpong and Francis Coquelin. Hopefully Rosický and Walcott soon recover from what seem shorter term injuries contracted from the Euros. And hopefully Mertesacker and Podolski continue to get into prime shape for the tournament’s finale, in which they combine for an astounding all-Arsenal goal to wipe the floor with Barca DNA.
Walcott returns from a good showing at Euro 2012, so presumably there will be another contract offer. Of course, Walcott may decide to not sign and kick off a delightfully neverending last-year-in-contract story for the next installment of news-overexposure hell. And Alex Song’s contract is winding down, too, so that too should provide some fun times. Oxlade-Chamberlain returns to a pay increase of 300%, which takes him up to £45,000 a week. For comparison, “flop” players Diaby, Denilson, Chamakh, Fabianski, Djourou, Arshavin, Vela, Bendtner, et al make more than that at this very moment, so it’s hard to say the Ox-Cham hasn’t earned it.
Anyhow, that’s all.
Enjoy the semis this week.