A quick post this morning, yours truly will be off within the hour, heading to the Emirates, to watch his beloved Arsenal take on the Italians from Milan.

The A.C variety of Milan is on the menu today, and the most fascinating weekend of pre-season football EVER to be seen at The Home of Football.

With our World Cup players still not back in training, Arsenal’s “Golden Generation” of young guns get to really stake a claim for first-team squad berths.

The likes of JET, Wilshere, Frimpong, Gibbs, Lansbury, Nordtveit, and Sczenzsy will all get a proper chance to shine against top notch opposition, and judging by previous Emirates Cup weekends, commitment and quality are always on show… with the new season just around the corner, and the real hard graft of Austria out of the way, the players should be finely tuned and almost at peak levels.

Van Persie’s glorious goal againt Inter a few pre-seasons back, and Wilshere’s crunching tackle on Salgado being perfect cases in point!

The so-called Golden Generation are now really at ages when they should be pushing intensively to be at least on the bench for first-team games, as opposed to playing reserve football.

The young polish keepers should each get good pitch time this weekend, many of the faithful at the Emms are yet to really see the quality of Sczenzsy, having seen him play at Griffin Park for Brentford last season, I can assure them they are in for a treat.

As I have mentioned previously, it’s Frimpong who will interest me most, along with Wilshere, as I can see both these being in the squad to travel up to Anfield in a fortnight’s time, with one of them starting.

Enjoy Gooners.

The Spanish press are heavily reporting a start for our Captain in tonight’s mouth watering clash against the Germans.

Fernando Torres will finally be dropped to the bench and Cesc will start playing in the same position he takes up for Arsenal, the free role behind the striker.

There were fears our man may not even make the bench due to injury, but thankfully he has been given the all clear and is now ready to step up and show the World what a perfect number 10 he has grown into… courtesy of Arsenal Football Club.

Spanish boss Del Bosque allayed any fears

“He has trained well. We were quite worried on Monday because he took a hit in the same place as his injury but he is available to play.”

Spain will cruise to a victory tonight, they have been getting through playing with 10 men in recent weeks, now the news of Torres’s dropping and Cesc’s starting berth are public knowledge, it does not take too much thinking to come to this conclusion.

The Germans have done astoundingly well, and to be fair the Spanish defence does look shaky at times, but I just cannot fathom the Spanish losing with a midfield of  Xavi, Alonso, Iniesta and Fabregras.

David Villa, starting in the centre forward role for the first time this World Cup, will have a field day against the cumbersome Mertesecker.

I hope we get a close game, maybe some excitement dragged into the extra time period, followed by the tension of penalties, but I cannot see it.

Germany’s youngsters will get a wake up call tonight against the European Champions.

Experience will finally be the killer blow for the wonderfully spirited German side, who have played the best football in the tournament, but the best side does not always win the thing.

Holland could easily win the World Cup this weekend, but they bore me to death… I support them out of loyalty to Robin, but in all honesty they are a Mourinho style team that employs 2 thugs in centre midfield to bust up the opposition.

Not total football, and I’m sure Johan will make some noises about this should the Dutch win the Cup or not.

We have to be careful that football does not go back to the dark ages with both Inter and Holland winning the biggest trophies in 2010 via a deployment of defensive football, looking to hit on the break.

For this reason, I will root for Spain to win the World Cup, or the Germans if they somehow make it through tonight.

Attacking, open, expansive football is to be praised as the best entertainment known to man.

It should be heralded as such, praised to the high heavens when a winning team plays pure football, not rope-a-dope football.


June 24, 2010

After the England v Slovenia game, the following are the chronological comments on the game from the esteemed panels on both BBC1 and RTE.

Funniest thing I have read for a while!

Hansen: “Once England got the goal the confidence levels surged, they were excellent.”

Eamon Dunphy: “They just didn’t grow in confidence at all after the goal.”

Lineker: “The goal really settled them, didn’t it? They pushed on from there.”

Ronnie Whelan: “You’d think they’d have kicked on from when they scored, but they actually got worse.”

Roy: “England’s crossing has been absolutely outstanding.”

Giles: “Some of the crossing was just awful.”

Shearer: “Rooney looks more confident, he’s getting around the pitch a lot better.”

Dunphy: “It’s shocking to see Rooney so subdued, he’s been reduced to a shivering wreck.”

Shearer: “They look much more comfortable on the ball, they’re passing it with a purpose, with pace, they’re closing down – a much better performance, it’s encouraging.”

Giles: “They’re much better than they have been, but they couldn’t have been worse.”

No arguments, then. Second half. England held on. Full-time. Ready?

Lee Dixon: “A great performance.”

Dunphy: “Shocking . . . absolutely incredibly bad . . . pretty awful stuff.”

Hansen: “The commitment was there, the spirit was there, the enterprise was there, the creativity was there, they passed it better – they could have scored five or six quite easily. Capello will obviously be delighted with the performance.”

Giles: “If that’s the shackles off what’ll they be like when the shackles are back on?”

’Arry Redknapp: “We played with pace, we got after them, we pressed them, there wasn’t a weakness in the team.”

Dunphy: “They were astonishingly poor.”

Lineker: “He looked more like the Rooney we know.”

Ronnie: “Rooney is a major worry, his form, his body language, his demeanour, everything.”

Dixon: “Gerrard was outstanding.”

Dunphy: “I can’t believe how bad Gerrard was today.”

’Arry: “Across midfield we were top drawer.”

Giles: “Barry got worse as the game went on, Milner, Gerrard and Lampard the same.”

’Arry: “Bring it on! Whoever we play we’ll be difficult to beat.”

Ronnie: “If they don’t improve they’ll go straight out, it was a very, very inept performance.”

England v Who?

June 23, 2010

So the nation holds it’s breath before the defining England game of the Capello era.

This afternoon, circa 3pm, our national team take on the smallest country out of the 32 teams that entered these World Cup finals.

Something is very, very wrong with this!

How the hell are we in this position? possibly the easiest group England have ever had in World Cup history, with a supposedly Golden Generation of players at the disposal of one of the greatest managers of his generation, and we are left worrying about getting a result against those giants of football, namely Slovenia.

The ball, the altitude, the attitude, the tactics, the players, the manager….. the list is endless, in terms of excuses for the first two results in this World Cup, but lets be clear about this, if we fail to beat Slovenia this afternoon, and other results dependant, it will be the biggest cock up in World Cup history.

Conversely, a convincing win, and the nation will be lifted, along with the team, and talk of once again becoming World Champions will be high on every Englishman’s agenda.

Fabio Capello, who was ironically born very near the Slovenian/Italian borders, has to get the team/formation right today, the players are stifled in the old-fashioned 4-4-2 with a big man and little man up front.

We need more control in midfield, in Rooney, we have a player who can thrive as the lone man up top, so play 5 in the midfield and take bloody control of the heart of the pitch, unlike the previous 2 games.

For me, the back 5 sorts itself out, but in midfield I would drop Fat Frank, and stick in a trio of Barry, Milner and Gerrard, with Lennon giving an outball and width down the right, and Joe Cole in on the left to come inside, leaving space for the overlapping Cunt to expose.

No chance he will play said side, as there is much talk of a Rooney/Defoe partnership today.

That worries me, as it would mean another bash at 4-4-2 against a team who will be playing 5-5-0.  The Slovenians only need a draw and they are through, 0-0 is the masterplan for them, there will be no adventure, just a punishing nullification of our final third.

How it got to this, who knows, but the country will unite in support for 90 minutes… and you cannot beat the spirit and togetherness of 60M people when such an important game of football is on.

Forget Eastenders, for sheer drama, nothing compares with following England at the World Cup.

Come on England!

Not a great fan of Graeme Souness, but he makes some very thought provoking noises in the following clips from his pundits position on RTE Television in Ireland.

He even goes on to suggest he has inside information that he is not prepared to discuss regarding the monumental error made by the England medical staff in preparing for altitude.

In a nutshell, Souness believes that England will be at their lowest physical point come the time of the Slovenia game, rendering them useless.

He does speak from experience, considering he played at a World Cup held at altitude in Mexico.

See what you think….

Capello is clearly not an International team manager, proven Club manager, but certainly not an International manager.

We were fooled into thinking he maybe knew what he was doing during the qualifying rounds, alas, sweeping aside the likes of Andorra and Kazakhstan was no measure of his capabilities.

I applaud the man for his incredible achievements at the likes of Milan and Roma, but he has shown he does not have the ability to get the best out of the likes of Gerrard, Rooney, Lampard et al.

I heard a Radio 5 Live interview after the match last night with David James, if you can get on iTunes and download the World Cup daily report, it’s on there, to say it reveals exactly what is wrong is an understatement.

James shows a clears disdain, and insinuates the rest of the squad feel the same, for the Italians insistence of naming the team “just before we get on the coach”

For crying out loud, this is the World Cup, a billion viewers worldwide, not an annual event like the FA Cup, but maybe a once in a lifetime chance for a footballer to leave his everlasting mark on the game of global football.  The players need to be ready mentally far more than physically, and how do you that if you have no clue if you are playing or not up until a couple of hours before kick-off.

We are certainly not down and out, I’m sure we will scrape past Slovenia in true English style, but equally I’m sure no matter what the outcome of this World Cup, Capello will not be the England manager come the start of the new Premiership season. Guaranteed.

The players fear him, obviously they respect him, but the fear is overriding and its being translated onto the pitch with fear filled football, there is no joy, no laughter, they are not enjoying the game.

Look at the teams doing well, Argentina have Diego with his antics of kissing and cuddling of his players on the sidelines, score a goal and you will get a big kiss and cuddle, have a bad game and you will get a big kiss and cuddle.

Capello? You better put a performance in or you’ll get 1000 lines from the headmaster, or worse!

Wenger speaking on French TV came up with the following beauty of a quote, which sums up England under Capello at World Cup 2010.

I’m surprised England fans booed… I thought they were asleep”

Surely dropping a player like Walcott, has bitten the manager on the arse?

In games like last night what you need is a spark off the bench, I concurred with many that Theo was not ready to start for England, but football brain or not, he pulls defences out of shape with his movement as they fear his pace getting clean in behind them, this clearly has helped to open space for other England attackers.

Shaun-Wright Phillips was a laughable inclusion, I think a lot of the squad also feel that it was a mistake, as Theo may not have helped his own cause, but his off the ball movement certainly helped the cause of players like Gerrard and Rooney to have more time and space in the final third.

Did we even have a proper chance last night?

I don’t care about Algeria playing 10 behind the ball… it was Algeria for crying out loud, not Argentina.

Going to remain as upbeat as I can until Wednesday afternoon, but bloody hell, we were given the easiest group in the entire competition and we have stuffed it up.

I do not agree with dropping Robert Green tonight, there is absolutely no latitude with such a tactical move.

Aside from the blunder, which has been repeated by many keepers at the WC since, Green made one astounding save later on that earned England a point.

Dropping him now and putting James into the team would be madness, the message to any England keeper from the Italian nutter is plain and simple… one mistake, and you are finito!

Great, just the kind of pressure you want to put on a keeper with these crazy 99 penny floater footballs around.

Algeria are pants, play most of the bench from the USA game and England would win 2 or 3 nil.

He selected Green to be his keeper at this WC, and he should stick with him now, he recovered very well from the mess up against the Yanks, the aforementioned save from Jozy Altidore proved as much.  He was perfectly positioned, stayed upright for as long as possible, it was textbook goalkeeping, he showed his mental fortitude to deal with the earlier mistake.

I am not Green’s biggest fan by any stretch of the imagination, and I would have honestly of selected either of the other 2 to be our keeper in South Africa, but now the nutter has chosen Green, to go back on it after one game would send out a poor signal to the squad.

Big, big decision for tonight’s game, plenty of speculation about James being picked to start ahead of Green, I just hope this is wrong, and the Italian engages brain and persists with the West Ham man.

The long ball game will not work at this WC, the jabulani will not allow for it, so knock Heskey or Crouch on the head and play Gerrard off fatboy, stick Joe Cole on the left for more creativity and Lennon down the right for pace and width, Barry holds the midfield letting Lumpy run on for loose balls outside the box, perfect set-up.

Capello is beginning to show his International management immaturity.

He is a totally dominant and proven force in club football, having won the lot, but don’t ever forget this is his inaugural visit to a major International football tournament as a manager.

Playing David James ahead of Robert Green tonight will spell the end.

Argentina are certainly my picks for the World Cup.

I can envision a Brazil v Argentina final, I think both sides have the right set-up to win a Cup competition, for those who are unaware, Brazil play a sit back and suck it up, then unleash hell on the counter attack brand of football, under current manager and former World Cup winning captain, Dunga.

Argentina, under the legendary Diego Maradona, have evolved much over the past 18 months, many styles of play and nearing 100 players have been tried and tested in that illustrious period of time.

The fact remains, in Lionel Messi they do possess the greatest player on Earth at this present moment.

Every team the Argies play will also be aware of said fact, and this should open up the realms of possibility for a new Argentina star to be born, as certainly Messi will be pounced upon by 2 or 3 opposition players when attacking, thus leaving space for his attacking comrades to exploit.

Angel di Maria is a name that some gooners will hold resonance with, he was apparently very close to signing for us, as a 16 yr old, but at the last minute some hitch caused the breakdown of this move, he ended up in Portugal with the Lisbon giants, Benfica.

What a player he is, and what a great chance he will have on the greatest stage in football, to highlight to his new suitors at the Bernabeu, just how marvellous a winger they are getting their hands on.

He is rocket fast, skillful, and certainly has an eye for goal.

For Argentina he will occupy the area down the right flank, and with Messi playing in the hole being the striker, and dropping out wide left, space down the right will be a luxury, a luxury di Maria will have to take advantage of.

Carlos Tevez will lead the line for the South American’s, which for my money, when you have Higuain and Diego Milito in the squad, is a wrong decision, I hope he proves me wrong.

Argentina play a similar brand of football to the Brazilians, they like to exploit on the counter, and with the pace, trickery and outrageous talent in their attacking players, they could spank a side for six in this tournament.

The Goalkeeper, gooners will again know of him from our games against AZ Alkmar this season, is Sergio Romero and this kid is going to be a superstar, mark my words.

Off the bench they have talent in Pastore, another dubbed the “New Maradona” and Maradona’s own son-in-law to be… the fantastic Atletico Madrid forward, Sergio Aguero.

All in all, they have the most talented squad, goals wise, in the entire tournament, and goals win you games, win you trophies.

The opening game against the Super Eagles of Africa, Nigeria, will lay down the marker.

Nigeria are ordinary for me, have a look at their squad… the star striker is Yakubu, and that says it all!

They have nothing in terms of real talent anywhere on the pitch, they are all good players, but nothing special anywhere, they endured a shocking Cup of Nations earlier in the year, and subsequently sacked the manager.

African teams usually play a very functional brand of football, and with a Swede at the helm now in Lars Lagerback, that is exactly what you will get.

Argentina should dispose of their African counterparts with relative ease this afternoon, the starter before the main course tonight.

I will stick my head out and favour a 3 or 4 nil victory.

The French are in total meltdown, the manager is a joke, the players are in race splits within the camp and the defence has a problem with the left back and centre back arguing over who should be the new Captain.

Patrice Evra won that war, the big baby, Billy G, once again lost a battle for a Captain’s armband.

We are hearing the players are not passing to Gourcuff and Govou as they believe Henry and Diaby should be deployed in their places.

Thankfully for Les Bleus, the thoroughly deplorable Domenech is to be replaced by Laurent Blanc later this Summer.

On paper, if France used the correct players from the wonderful talent they have in the squad they have assembled, they should give the South American’s a good lesson tonight.

However, that will not be happening, at best they will nick a draw, 1-1 possibly.

In Forlan and Suarez, Uruguay have one of the top strike partnerships in the entire competition, and I fully expect one or both to get on the score sheet tonight.

They use a fairly dated 3-5-2 formation, with a pair of bombastic wing-backs working like dogs up and down both flanks, this allows for a very solid back 3 and a fully functional central midfield engine room, that destroys opposition possession and creates at will for the front men.

Uruguay came through play-offs to qualify, so they are by no means one of the better sides from their continent, but their European counterparts came through via dubious circumstances that could carry plenty of bad karma.

I expect a 2-0 win for the side from Uruguay, with a saver on the 1-1, France should get space down the flanks late one to create, the high altitude certainly showed up in the opening fixture with the Mexicans looking dead on their feet with 15 to go.

Lovely tempo to the opener, I hate those bloody vuvuzela things aswell, but I get the feeling they may help set high tempos to games, tonight will tell us more.

Both sides tend to be cagey in their approach, looking to create an opening when and if a moment comes, rather than seizing the moment.

I am putting my faith in the blasted horns lifting the event into an open, action packed affair.