Arsenal Depot

A depository for musings on Arsenal FC

Archive for the month “June, 2012”

Oliver Giroud In, Robin Van Persie ….?

It’s official – Olivier Giroud is an Arsenal player and the second major signing of the summer. The late bloomer joins from Montpellier for a reported £13m fee and along with Lukas Podolski, gives the Arsenal front line an imposing new look. Unlike Spain, it’s safe to assume Arsenal will not be fielding a striker-less formation next season.

Last summer, when Arsene Wenger tried to delay Samir Nasri’s sale (Fabregas was always going) in the hope that his compatriot would sign an extension, Arsenal were heavily criticized for leaving it too late and jeopardising the start to the season. That criticism was justified because Nasri did not stay so the proactive approach shown this time around should be applauded.

Of course, there are some in the media who are using this opportunity to predict more doom and gloom for Arsenal, specifically with regards to Robin van Persie’s future. But why would Van Persie leave now? Wasn’t Arsenal’s ‘lack of ambition’ the main concern for the Dutchman as far as the media were concerned? No matter how strongly biased you are against the Gunners, no one can argue that Podolski and Giroud are excellent captures for the club.

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Spring Cleaning Imminent As Giroud Almost A Gunner

All the talk these past few days has been about Olivier Giroud and his move to Arsenal. After Arsene said last week that the deal was 90% done, Montpellier president Louis Nicollin claimed yesterday that it’s now 100% certain. A medical seems to be pending, but after seeing this picture, there doesn’t seem to be too much wrong with this boy. Perhaps it’s an opportunity for Arsenal to pursue a new line of posters aimed at female fans?

Giroud’s arrival means Marouane Chamakh is halfway out of the door. While Giroud is better on the ball by all accounts, both are fairly similar players in terms of aerial ability and hold up play. At present though, there seem to be few takers for the Moroccan as Bordeaux have ruled out a return for their former striker. Much of the focus is rightly on new arrivals, but we tend to forget that the club also needs to find homes for surplus players to make way for the incomings.

While Chamakh struggles to find a team, Nicklas Bendtner’s agent has claimed ‘worldwide’ interest in the best striker in the world. Of course, we heard similar pronouncements last summer from agent and Dad, culminating in Bendtner’s loan move to far off and tropically exotic Sunderland. It’s certain he doesn’t have a future at Arsenal so hopefully the club can sort his departure, and those of others quickly, so we are not forced into last-minute loan moves.

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Euro 2012: Pirlo Show And Penalty Shootouts

So after 27 matches, we finally had a scoreless draw in Euro 2012 and unsurprisingly, England were one of the teams involved. It came down to the dreaded penalty shoot-out but even the most die-hard English supporter will admit that their team were hugely fortuitous to even take it that far.

For a game that started so brightly in the first 15 minutes, a goal seemed inevitable. De Rossi cracked a volley that hit the post in the 3rd minute and Glen Johnson was denied by the excellent reflexes of Gianluigi Buffon. It was a period of play typical of the Premier League, very ‘end-to-end’, to use a tired cliché.

But as soon as the adrenaline-fueled hustling died down, Pirlo took control. The master-passer effortlessly moved the ball around from the back, linking play with his midfielders, switching flanks, inviting England out, running with the ball when gaps opened and keeping an eye out for the movements of Balotelli and Cassano. His over-the-top-of-defense ball to Balotelli in the 25th minute was perfectly measured and if the wasteful fire-starter had not been so slow (as he has been all tournament), Italy would have been deservedly ahead.

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Euro 2012: Koscielny Impressive In Insipid French Loss

The entertainment value in the first two rounds of matches at these European championships was generally high, even when the quality was not always evident.  Since Poland conspired to let 10-man Greece back into the tournament, we’ve seen the Russians maul the Czechs, wasteful Holland get beaten by Denmark, Spain and Italy play out a tactical battle and England and Sweden try to outdo each other in a 5-goal thriller.

Since the final round of the group stage though, matches have progressively become duller and duller. Yesterday, another high-profile game between two technically gifted sides essentially turned out to be a snore-fest. Spain really didn’t shift out of first gear and France were too worried about getting beaten. Of course, you can’t blame Laurent Blanc for being wary of the World Champions – many have tried to play Spain at their own game and perished. He had to adjust tactically to give France the best chance of competing.

I believe his idea was right. Iniesta and Jordi Alba were identified as the main threat down Spain’s left and the inclusion of two right-backs was aimed at shutting down that area of the pitch. On the other side, Arbeloa doesn’t get up the pitch so much and both Silva and Fabregas play very narrow, so the France manager reckoned Clichy, Koscielny and one of M’Vila or Malouda could deal with their threat. And it worked to an extent – Iniesta was certainly not as influential in this game as he’s been in the tournament so far. And Ribery was finding some space to attack when Spain switched their focus to the right flank.

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Euro 2012: Germans Batter Greece, Koscielny To Feature Today

It was another one-sided quarter-final in Gdansk as Germany thrashed Greece 4-2 under the watchful eyes of their chancellor Angela Merkel. In years to come, those who haven’t seen the match may look at the result and imagine a keenly contested match. It was anything but that.

A lot of the excitement came prior to kick-off with Joachim Low making four changes to his side. It was a brand new front three of Klose, Schurrle and Reus instead of the usual suspects Gomez, Podolski and Muller. A brave decision by Low and one which points to the depth of this German squad. His choices were vindicated in the end with Reus and Klose getting on the score sheet and Schurrle, although a little wasteful, always looking a threat cutting inside from the left.

Podolski’s exclusion meant there was no Arsenal interest in this match whatsoever, with Mertesacker already being kept out of the team by the impressive Badstuber and Hummels. And Arsenal’s last Greek connection was nearly a decade ago when Efstathios Tavlaridis made a few cup appearances for the Gunners.

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