October 17, 2012
There was plenty of action and incident for the Arsenal boys during last night’s World Cup qualifiers.
Unfortunately I didn’t see any of it as I spent what felt like hours watching Adrian Chiles attempt to make humorous banter with his three wise pundits as the rain teemed down through the open roof of the National Stadium in Warsaw. It was painful and terrible and yet I couldn’t avert my eyes. Like watching a car crash. If whenever a car crashed Gareth Southgate and Lee Dixon turned up and made the same joke about Roy Keane only having one pair of underpants with him over and over again for the rest of time.
Fortunately the whole roof debacle shouldn’t affect Arsenal too badly this weekend, which is all I really care about to be honest (I mean, yeah, I feel quite bad for those England fans too but if you will travel to eastern Europe just to cheer on the likes of Ashley Cole I’m afraid I’ve only got limited sympathy). The only Arsenal man available for selection in this afternoon’s hastily arranged replay is Oxlade and we already know that he’s been left on the bench so fingers crossed aside from the travel he should be okay for the weekend.
While I watched the chuckle brothers’ valiant attempts to fill airtime on ITV I was missing Per Mertesacker star in his own calamity in Germany’s match against Sweden. Per got on the scoresheet as the Germans strolled to a 4-0 lead but with half an hour to go they did what can only fairly be described as ‘an Arsenal’ and squandered it all drawing the game 4-4. In retrospect it’s probably best I didn’t see that one as I’m sure it would have brought back horrendous flashbacks from that Newcastle game. I’d be like a Vietnam veteran freaking out when a car backfired.
Meanwhile in the France v Spain match Laurent Koscielny played the full 90 but gave away a penalty which would have given Spain a 2-0 lead before half time had Fabregas not seen his effort saved by Hugo Lloris. That meant that France were still in the game and Olivier Giroud was their hero as he scored a 94th minute equaliser having been on the pitch for only seven minutes. It was a great goal. A header from Ribery’s cross but he had to adjust his whole body to get behind it and looped it perfectly inside the post.
A great moment for him and his hopefully burgeoning confidence and after the game he seemed pretty pleased with himself:
It’s a feeling of great satisfaction.
The equaliser is a reward for the whole team, we got it together.
Personally, this is also a great way for me to silence the criticism I have heard recently.
Hmm…I wouldn’t be so sure about that old chum. In my opinion you’re severely underestimating the British press’ ability to hold on to a story that had no merit in the first place. But then you’re new to this country. You’ll figure it out soon enough.
Santi Cazorla, having been left on the bench, played almost a full game after replacing David Silva early on so he’s likely to be tired for the weekend while Thomas Vermaelen played the full 90 for Belgium again in their 2-0 win over Scotland.
Still, Oxlade aside we should see the players start to filter their way back into the country today and we should start to get an idea of what we’re dealing with team news wise ahead of the weekend. Aside from the tired legs we know that we’ve lost Theo for a couple of weeks but it’ll be interesting to get an update on where we are with Kieran Gibbs who was a late withdrawal from the England squad and Wojciech Szczesny who has been two to three weeks away from a return since pretty much the start of the season.
Today is Jack’s behind-closed-doors friendly against a Chelsea XI which for some reason people this morning are referring to as a ‘secret’ behind-closed-doors friendly despite the fact that it’s being reported in the Sun. Hopefully if anyone’s willing to admit that this highly confidential match is occurring we might get the odd report today about how he fares.
And after a week and a half of nothing to talk about but international football, quite frankly I’ll take that.
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