Morning folks. Right, plenty to sink our teeth in to today, so let’s get straight to it and start with…

France vs Germany / Portugal vs Hungary

My second country, country of my Grandmother and usually a shoe in for some proper hope in international tournaments – Germany – showed why there aren’t too many currently expecting them to smash it up at this Euro’s. On their home turf they got done over by France and whilst the second half was more German possession, that was mainly because France were happy to sit and strike on the counter with the quality they have in their team. My consolation of the evening was that France at least picked up the points and my sweepstake team – Les Bleus – will at least make it through to the next round. But this game very much felt like two big nations not really warmed up to the tournament yet. For my personal hope, as well as my financial benefit, I hope both demonstrate they are capable of upping their game significantly in the coming weeks. For France I think that is inevitable, but the lack of experience in this German team – and the lack of goals (apparently none at international tournaments, although I haven’t checked that out myself) – makes me a little more concerned for Die Mannschaft.

As for the other game in that group, well, that was always going to end one way and after Portugal upped their game following a bit of huffing and puffing in the first half, their quality shone through and the man himself Ronaldo bagged the goals to put him in to the record books. Fair play to him; he may be viewed as a bit of an arrogant pr*ck by some, but you can’t deny his absolute class. He’s done it in England, Spain, Italy and on the international stage. He’s won practically all there is to win and he’s done it over a longevity that demonstrates just how good he’s been. One of the greatest footballers ever and certainly arguably the greatest European, as I know people doubt him against the likes of Messi, Pele and Maradona. All South American’s though so it’s hard to think of another European who has delivered on so many levels and over such a period of time.

Premier League fixtures announced

Today we have the fixtures announced and given they are done so at 9am, by the time you might be reading this you may already know our start to the season, which feels more important than most seasons actually. The reason I say that is because of the position we are in. Arteta needs a very good start to dampen down the naysayers and for that ideally you want a number of relatively winnable fixtures at the beginning of the season. I think it was in 2007/8 (or around that time) that we won our first seven games and by a weird coincidence seven of our first ten were home matches. That was when ‘Project Youth’ was at it’s peak I think and it was because of those first games that we were at least able to maintain a good level of form for most of the season. We played Fulham, Blackburn, Man City (when they were pants), Portsmouth and the Tiny Totts and picked up a lot of wins to gain momentum. That’s what we have to hope for this season.

But also, we want to play some of those tougher games when we’re starting to get in to October, because that’s when the teams that finished above us will be playing in midweek. Imagine us having a full week off and then playing Leicester City or West Ham, with them having had to travel away to a European destination, eh? That would surely be an advantage. Yet for the first few week’s of the season anyway all teams tend to play just once a week and so if we’re playing any of those European teams straight away then that midweek no football advantage we thought we were getting, won’t exactly stack up against those bigger teams playing in Europe.

James Maddison

Here’s a player who is supposed to be playing in Europe and I think almost certainly will be doing so for Leicester City next season. They are in the Europa, we are not, they are being lauded as a team on the up, whereas we still have question marks about us. I know it was the AFCBell who reported on the interest, but to be fair to them they only speak of interest and not any kind of bid for the player. I would put this to you, fellow Gooner: Any team NOT interested in Maddison probably wants their heads seeing to. He’s been a fantastic signing for Leicester and I’d be stunned if they would even countenance responding to any kind of bid. Not unless it is silly money like United paid for Maguire. Leicester held out for £80million for him, so what do we think they’d hold out for Maddison? It would need to be around the £100million mark and for that reason there is no way the player moves to The Arsenal.

I could see it happening if he had one year on his deal, wasn’t going to sign, Leicester weren’t in Europe and we’d just qualified for the Champions League. None of those parameters are met this summer. His contract runs until 2024 and so even if we managed to have an amazing season and finish in the top four this coming season and Leicester finished mid table, next summer Leicester would still have two year’s left on his contract and so even then we’d need to hit them with a big fee to get him. So whilst I’d love it to come to fruition, I’m not holding my breath for him, sadly.

Lokonga does seem more concrete though and apparently we’ve already made a bid, whilst the youngster from Rennes – Eduardo Camavinga – has a contract which is expiring at the end of next season and apparently if he hasn’t signed it by 28th June, the club will look to move him on. He’s a guy that a lot of clubs are pining for I believe, so it would be tough to get over the line, but he looks like a bit of a baller and so if he is up for sale it could be one that is a little more within our price range given his age and fact he only has one year left on his deal. Personally I’ve only seen pics but both Lokonga and Camavinga look like the right type of player to go for this summer, so I’m quite happy that our heads seem to be in the right place this year.

That’s most of the juicy stuff for you for today, so I’ll catch you in the morrow with a detailed analysis of whether we’re screwed next season  or are winning the league. 😉