England bow out on penalties, Chamakh doesn’t want to bow out – AFC

How many of you did not predict penalties in this tie? That was one outcome that everybody knew would happen. With no goals through 90 minutes and extra time England had finally succumb to the dreaded penalty shootout. It was definitely not a good night if your name was Ashley; both Young and Cole did not score their penalties which condemned England to taking the next flight home.

The game itself was not a classic by any means, especially if you were supporting England. After a bright start from both teams where it seemed they were prepared to throw two fingers up at all those who predicted a defensive stalemate from the two countries. That lasted all of five minutes then the real picture loomed.

As the game wore on Italy became stronger and stronger and missed quite a few chances you would expect them to gobble up. I believe the English post was struck twice over the course of the game and Balotelli had a game he would rather forget in terms of the chances he missed. England rode their luck a few times in the game as they became more and more tentative in their play. They dropped deep, kept their shape but at the times the broke on the counter they couldn’t string a number of passes together. The ball would break down and they would scurry back into position win the ball back and do the same over again.

As I had stated yesterday a game featuring these two countries needed the addition of someone special to produce that one piece of magic. I wanted that someone to be Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, England was calling out for his appearance. Rooney offered absolutely nothing on the night, nothing he tried came off and a lot of the promising attacks fell apart at his feet. Despite Jordan Henderson being trusted ahead on him last night young Alex will return to Arsenal with a lot of experience gained from his involvement in the tournament overall.

Theo Walcott did come on in the second half replacing James Milner who again was in the team on merit for his defensive qualities yet offered nothing going forward. Theo did in fact have the Italians on the back foot when in possession however that wasn’t in possession often enough as the England team seemed to force all their play on the left hand side. I have no idea why this was the case as Ashley Young gave the ball away far too much on the left flank and should really have been subbed at some point. I suppose in the end England believed their best hope to be penalties and played for them. Roy didn’t take that gamble the England team needed, the nation knew not to expect much when Henderson was brought on for Scott Parker and the only gamble Roy was prepared to take with the penalty shoot-out didn’t pay off. Not much else to say on the matter, the journey for the England team has ended at the quarter final stage. We didn’t expect much going into the tournament but gained belief as England progressed; we had some positives from Theo and Alex’s participation and will benefit next season from their experience gained.

In other Arsenal news the Bordeaux president has ruled out the prospect of Marouane Chamakh returning to the club this summer. It was though that after showing interest in the January transfer window for the striker they would renew that interest as it’s looking more and more likely he will become surplus to requirements next season. This has now been confirmed that Bordeaux will not be a likely destination. President Jean Louis Triaud said:

“It is not worth making things up. I tried to contact him six months ago when the transfer window was open”

he added:

 “Since I crossed paths with him at the Parc des Princes, he was able to tell me he was very happy in London, loved Arsenal and was fine where he was. We’re talking about things which do not exist.”

Don’t know what to make of those quotes, can Chamakh really be happy with the way his career has been going at Arsenal or is he happy with the bumper wages he is on? I stand by the latter, we must not forget he signed on a free and his agent would have made the most of that situation with wage negotiations. These same wages Chamakh is on would price him out of any move back to his old club. France isn’t known for its high wages apart from the money currently being thrown about at PSG.

I still believe Chamakh will move on if and when we complete the signing of Giroud from Montpellier but for now he is taking a seat next to Denilson, Arshavin and Bendtner in that waiting room of uncertainty.

Enjoy your day people

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Will Arsene need to address right back position? – AFC

With all the transfer talk over the past week or so focusing on the potential strikers, midfielders and centre backs coming into the club it seems one vital area of the Arsenal team has been neglected.  The right back position in my opinion is an area that will require attention before the season starts. I am sure Arsene Wenger has taken this into consideration and possibly has it all worked out already but I believe any decision lays heavily on the developments of Bacary Sagna’s recovery from his fractured right fibula.

The right back area is equally as important an area as any of the striking positions or midfield and we need to make sure we are covered adequately enough in that position. Bacary is the main man in that position and so any right backs during his extended period on the side-lines merely serve the purpose of keeping his seat warm until he returns. And there is where the problem lies, how long can we cope without cover of the same calibre of Sagna?

In the current squad the obvious candidate to fill that void is Carl Jenkinson. My question is whether young Carl can raise his game to reach such heights that we are not calling for Sagna’s return. I believe in Jenkinson’s abilities however I class him more as potential rather than the finished article.  He is Arsenal through and through and would give everything when on the pitch; he loves the club and that is a great motivation for any player.  He is still learning his craft though and still has a few things he needs to work on with his defending.

One thing Arsene Wenger has not been scared of is to throw youngsters he believes in into the deep end and see if they could sink or swim. He certainly did that with Ashley Cole a few years back, Clichy too and last season he planned the same with Kieran Gibbs. Unfortunately for Gibbs injuries certainly disrupted his promotion however he has grown into that role when he has had a run of games.

Beyond Carl Jenkinson there is not much on offer for cover if in the unlikely event Carl also requires time on the side-lines. We experimented with a number of players in the right back position when Carl and Bacary were injured last season to mixed results.

We experimented with Centre backs playing in there. Johan Djourou had a stint there. At the time we had were fully stocked for centre backs and the right back availability was a chance for Johan to get into the team. Although Johan started off ok in that position, he added height at the back and was generally comfortable on the ball he didn’t offer much in an attacking sense to the team which is understandable. He was also suspect against any attacking players who dribble at the defender. He was found wanting a number of times against those types of players. Junior Hoillet, Antonio Valencia and Nani come to mind. In his defence he is a centre back by trade and was doing his bit to help the team by covering at a time when we needed cover.

Laurent Koscielny also had a few games at right back and to be honest was quite impressive there. I believe he mentioned in an interview he has played there previously in France and does not find the position too alien to him. One drawback from that arrangement was that from all the good we gained from Koscielny playing right back we missed his presence and all the positives he brought to the centre of defence. We needed him in the middle more than at full back and in conjunction with Mertesacker’s injury against Sunderland that option became null and void.

The midfielders gave it a try too. Francis Coquelin slotted into the right back position and was quite impressive there however maybe due to the extra sprinting that position involves he obtained a few injuries which were in effect muscle pulls.  In the grand scheme of things Coquelin is a midfielder and that is the position he learned his craft and sees his future so any stint at right back was merely short-term solution. Adaptability is no bad thing and I’m sure he is prepared to play there if ever needed.

Nico Yennaris is another player who is a midfielder primarily but had played a few games at right back last season. He actually played alright in that games but is very raw and would benefit more from a loan spell to aid his development. I would not expect him to be called upon apart from maybe Carling cup games.

One thing that strikes me is over the years we have churned out so many promising left backs yet in the right back position we have tended to always have established more experienced right backs purchased. I cannot remember the last time a young right back has been on the lips of gunners fans as one to watch out for. Justin Hoyte is the last youth player I can recall who broke into fringes of the first team and maybe Kerrea Gilbert but those two players never really fulfilled any promise.

At present there are a couple of names in the youth set up who could possibly make the breakthrough though it is still quite early days for them. The Neymar lookalike Martin Angha and his Swiss compatriot Sead Hajrovic are just names for the future for now. We clearly need to buck the trend and produce some future Arsenal right backs.

In the meantime it’s over to you Carl Jenkinson. Get your head down, work hard over the summer and make that right back spot your own. Well until Sagna is back…

Enjoy your day people.