The football is starting to get interesting now, eh? Last night we had the Netherlands being knocked out to the Czech Republic, whilst Portugal were exited from the competition at the hands of the Belgians. In the latter of those two games you’d say that it was a compelling game with two decent and well matched teams, but ultimately Portugal didn’t really do enough from the first minute to the last to beat a very good Belgium side. Watching it last night it felt like they just wanted to contain from the first minute and we only really saw the desperation in the second half as they tried to probe Belgium’s back line. It all felt very Arsenal I have to say; went behind but it was almost as if they had written off the first half, then became quite desperate as the game begun to draw to a conclusion. Have a go from the second you are behind!

It was a pretty sumptuous strike from Thorgan Hazard to be fair though. Cutting across the ball like that so it swerves away from the ‘keeper in to the corner was a special finish and deserving of winning what was a tense game. I love those types of goals because from every angle they look impressive and although I have no ill will towards the Portuguese, I think I was kind of pleased that Belgium went through. They have such an array of talent it really is quite amazing and I’d be surprised if they aren’t in the final in just under two weeks time.

In the other game the Czechs surprisingly went through and the pundits analysing the game and commentators obviously went hard on the brilliant performance of the Czechs, but I think their lambasting of the Dutch was also pretty harsh too, in my opinion. We are talking about elite international football here, in which none of these teams are farmers from the outer posts of some tiny European nation that is 1,000 foot above sea level and only accessible via yak. So when a team goes down to 10 men in a game like this at a tournament like this, it is probably highly unlikely that they will go through. Perhaps they could have just ‘done a Burnley’ and stuck 10 mean camped on the edge of their box, but this team was built to attack and so that was never going to be an option. So of course the Czechs took advantage because in these types of games any advantage like being a man up is almost like being gifted the first goal as it is.

Denmark will probably be the most pleased because I’d fancy them big time against the Czech’s and that could mean a semi final awaits for them, which would be pretty amazing given what has happened with Erikson, etc.

As for Arsenal-related news, well, there isn’t really that much other than some noises about Hector Bellerin and Inter Milan. I was chatting to my old mate Giles on Twitter yesterday and he pointed out that we should be avoiding teams like Inter Milan who are massively in debt and will of course try to low ball us as much as possible. The rumours are they want Hector on loan for a season and then an option to buy at the end of the season. I find it rich that Inter have just sold their right back Hakimi for €60million and are now looking over at us and telling us they can’t afford the supposed €20million we are asking for. Hence why Giles – rightly – said we should just tell them to ‘do one’ and focus on other suitors.

Apparently there are a few and I’d expect there would be a few Spanish clubs who wouldn’t mind having a punt and getting him in. The problem is that there aren’t many buying clubs at the moment because the pandemic has smashed everyone’s finances in to touch. So it appears most clubs are in a ‘sell before you buy’ mentality and that is why the transfer window hasn’t sparked in to life. If you do have a billionaire owner who is willing to speculate to accumulate you could end up having your pick of players, but given that we only have one of those billionaire owners who put nothing in but only take out and don’t bother to show any kind of ambition as they sweat out their declining asset, you can see why we too haven’t made any concrete moves. Over the last week or so I’ve been getting antsy about how we haven’t been more proactive but the more stories you read about the whole of Europe, the more you realise that nothing major is happening anywhere. I’ve just had a skim over transfers that have happened that are over £15million so far this summer and we have:

  • Nicolás González from Stuttgart to Fiorentina for £23million
  • Fiyako Tomori from Chelsea to Milan for £30million (That’s how you sell a youth player and someone not part of your plans, Arsenal…)
  • Emiliano Buendía from Norwich to Villa for £30million
  • Gerson from Flamengo to Marseille for £17.3million

That’s it since the beginning of June. As an interesting aside, it is intriguing that Marseille want Guendouzi but have tried to low ball us on the fee, when they’ve dropped £17million for Gerson. Come on guys, just pay what he’s worth and even what we’re asking for given the talent of the player is a bit of a joke how much they’re haggling.

But that’s just the market right now. Some desperation needs to set in at some stage and that feels to me like it’ll happen as we get close to August.

So for now we wait and, mercifully, there is still some football going on to distract us.

I will catch you all tomorrow with some more thoughts. Have a good Monday.