Holiday over for me, a week in the sun of Italy and wouldn’t you know it, they’re not really making a big deal of the competition in Naples?
Huh, who’d have thunk it?
I could probably talk to you about all of the different Arsenal-related stuff that has gone on whilst I’m away but no doubt you’ve read countless other takes on the signing of Bernd Leno, the slow edging of a potential signing in Torreira and Sokratis, so you don’t really need me bleating on about stuff that has happened as some kind of pointless recap.
I’ve seen it, you’ve seen it, let’s move on to the present. Which is, umm, still about those players as the Sokratis signing looks like it’ll happen any second now. My initial impressions a few weeks back were that this one seemed to be dragging its heels a little bit but as I was told – and many of you probably also know – the deal was due to the need to push the actual transfer in to the next German financial year for Dortmund. So that’s why it’s happening now instead of in June.
I guess it’s fair enough. He’s not at the World Cup, Arsenal probably don’t mind and it’s not exactly like we’ve started any pre-season training up until this point, so it hasn’t really affected anyone. He’ll sign in the next day or so, join his new teammates at the beginning of their training for the August kick off, then hopefully be bedded in for the start of the campaign.
Someone must surely go though. If Chambers is signing a new deal it ain’t him, if Holding is believed in and already signed a new deal recently it probably isn’t him and with Koscielny injured until the end of the year at least he’ll still be around. To me that points in one direction to an exit and that man is Shokdran Mustafi.
I know he’s got is foibles and can drive us all insane with his desire to go to ground as he is, but to me it feels like we’ve bought a similar player to him in Sokratis and I can’t see how Emery and Mislintat do that without offloading someone. A team like ours doesn’t need five centre halves for two positions. It just doesn’t make sense and especially as we have the potential of Söyüncü arriving and Monreal who can also act as an auxiliary centre half.
So essentially what I’m saying is that I reckon Mustafi is going to be offloaded this summer.
I guess only time will tell though. We’ll see how that unfolds in the coming weeks.
As for the World Cup, well, isn’t this shaping up to be an absolute doozy eh? Yesterday the Spanish paid the price for looking like they were taking one of their famous siesta’s in a humid Russia against a pumped up home nation. Russia are hardly any great shakes but what that game reminded me about yesterday was why there are some teams who can build a solid defensive display and by riding their luck a bit (the Spaniard’s should have had a penalty at 1-1 I reckon) then you can actually progress in these types of knock out competitions. It reminds me of when Greece did it in 2004. Alright, they didn’t have to relied on penalties, but they still one-nilled their way to the trophy by essentially sitting off teams and getting their precious goal only to then play backs-to-the-wall football.
That’s what it feels like what Russia did yesterday and although they did well to squeeze past Spain I would be surprised if they could ride that luck all the way to the final.
In the other game I have to say I was kind of routing for the underdog in Denmark come the start of the game but by the end I was happy justice was done by Croatia going through on pens. The ‘foul’ by Jorgensen as the Croatian guy passed the ‘keeper and went to tap in was a hopeful lunge through the back of the attacking player.
There can be no doubt it was a penalty, but this ‘double jeopardy’ rule doesn’t work for me in the slightest I’m afraid. We can say now that the result hasn’t impacted it because Croatia went through but how on earth did the result of Jorgensen’s lunge result in Denmark being given a chance with 11 men still on the pitch?
Modric’s penalty was poor and as a result of Jorgensen taking down a player with a tap in – and I’m 100% he knows what he’s doing to bring him down there – Denmark essentially got the chance of going through when they should have gone out.
The problem I have with the rule is that it now sets a precedent for defenders in that situation to be able to take more of a gamble – probably more wild swings when a player is through on goal for a tap in – because they know that a) it gives the team a chance by gambling on a penalty and b) they might not even be a man down as a result of their actions.
Had Jorgensen been sent off and the penalty missed then Croatia would have had the advantage in extra time that they deserved. Instead to me it looked like they were the ones that ended up punished because of the fact that a clear goal was denied them and a sending off wasn’t given. Farcical.
Still, it did make for plenty of suspense in both games and when your team isn’t involved a penalty shoot out is always good fun.
Today it’s Brazil vs Mexico and Japan vs Belgium and I’m absolutely gutted that I’ll be working for that first game because I think it’ll be an awesome game to watch. Three teams who have quietly impressed me in this competition are Uruguay, Croatia and Mexico. Two out of three are through, so imagine if the third makes it at the expense of what must be the clear and overwhelming favourites?
I’ve got Belgium in the company sweepstake so I guess there’s a little something riding on that game, but I can’t wait to see whether Carlos Vela has another little chipped goal in him, can you?
Catch all of you lovely people tomorrow.