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Friday, 17 June 2016

Does Hodgson know of a player called Jack Wilshere?

Pick your best players!

I've been able to see almost all of the games at Euro 2016 since Monday. There has been plenty of Arsenal involvement, and some very frustrating non-involvement for certain Arsenal players. There have been two or three surprise results, not least the unexpectedly brilliant 2-0 win for Italy over Belgium and Northern Ireland's magnificent victory against Ukraine yesterday. The funniest sight of the tournament, however, was Cristiano Ronaldo's teenage tantrum at Portugal failing to beat Iceland. The Iceland team were outstanding on the night and Ronaldo's lack of respect towards them at the final whistle just about summed the bloke up. The fact is that he and his team weren't good enough on the night to overcome the minnows of the tournament and it was a wonderful achievement for Iceland. Seeing Ronaldo close to tears was just a nice bonus.
France left it late again the other night in their game with an also over-achieving Albania side. France rarely looked like breaking them down, and Giroud missed a couple of chances as well as seeing a fine header come back off the post. Koscielny had a really good game in defence for the French. Their win saw them through before the third group game so I suspect there may be one or two being rested for the final game there - Giroud himself might find he is used from the bench against Switzerland. I watched most of the Swiss game against Romania where Granit Xhaka once again was named man of the match. Like Mohammed Elneny he seems to rarely give the ball away, though I saw more evidence of a man trying to play incisive passes on occasion than we get with the Egyptian. What I am not going to do is get as excited about Xhaka as many were online the other day - when he produces the proper goods, or otherwise, for Arsenal I'll make my mind up as to how good he is.
As for England Roy Hodgson got away with it yesterday, big time. To pick the same team as Saturday was fool-hardy to say the least. That he changed things a lot at half-time was, at least, an admission that he had got things badly wrong, but it was lucky for him that Sturridge got the last minute winner for his side - Hodgson would have been taking some serious flak (and deservedly so) had England not won that game. Joe Hart proved yet again that he isn't as good as he thinks he is - I've said for years he has a problem going low to his left. For a start he was in the wrong position for the free-kick, but he then didn't move his feet and couldn't get across his goal to a ball that was hit from around 35 yards. It was far worse than David Seaman getting caught out by Ronaldinho's mishit cross in 2002. 
England created next to nothing in the 90 minutes yesterday. The only genuine chance created (both goals came out of nothing) by the team was the open goal missed by Raheem Sterling in the first-half. Jamie Vardy was, not for the first time, the man in the right place when it mattered to get the equaliser, while the pace and quality of Sturridge in the penalty area dug them out of a hole in injury time. What England need now is for Hodgson to actually show some courage and make changes from the start. The likes of Sterling, Kane and Alli have been poor. Lallana works hard but has no end product or creativity. England do have one midfield player who can genuinely be dangerous and pick a special pass in a tight game, but he isn't being selected! It was beyond my comprehension that Jack Wilshere never got on the field at all yesterday - bringing Rashford on would have been fine if England had actually gone with two central players up front, but it was a Wenger substitution that didn't lead to a change in formation or approach. If Hodgson puts Wilshere in to that team, with either Vardy or Kane up front, then he will create things for them. I'm not sure Sturridge is able to play from the start of games, but he was certainly dangerous when he came on - an impact sub might be the best thing for him right now.
For Wales I thought Aaron Ramsey was absolutely outstanding yesterday. I am one of his biggest critics but he was the best player on the pitch as far as I'm concerned. Alli tried to rough him up in the first few minutes and Ramsey stood up to the little Tottenham scrote brilliantly. He then spent the rest of the match running rings round him in the midfield as the England team couldn't really get close to him. It was Ramsey's best performance since his golden spell at Arsenal a couple of years ago. When he plays like that he is outstanding, keeping it simple and limiting the fancy rubbish.
I watched Germany as well last night and it was a poor game, the first 0-0 of the tournament. Mesut Ozil seemed to be auditioning for a role in a remake of The Invisible Man for most of the match. In the first-half he was doing a brilliant job of being where the ball wasn't. When Andre Schuurle came on Ozil was suddenly much more involved and was denied a goal by a superb save from Fabianski. However, it was easy to see, once again, why he frustrates me so much and, from what I understand, he is just as annoying to Germany supporters.

There will be another blog post very late tonight. I have been planning an article for a couple of weeks on what Arsenal have decided will happen when Junior Gunners memberships expire. This article will not paint Arsenal FC in a good light. It will be on here when you wake up tomorrow morning.

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