The wing it is for Theo next season.

With the football season done, as much as the fans despise international friendlies the game between England and Brazil was a welcome exception to the rule. The Arsenal interest much like the game against Republic of Ireland came in the form of Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Given the mounting rumours of a done deal the Arsenal interest could be extended to that of Brazil number one Julio Cesar. Oxlade-Chamberlain started on the bench however the game was an opportunity for fans to see Theo Walcott in a more offensive potentially central attacking role for England against a top quality side. Roy Hodgson opted for a three up top formation meaning Theo played in a role he was familiar playing at Arsenal. Roy Hodgson did allow him freedom to drift inside to support Rooney and he also swapped flanks throughout the game with James Milner.

Overall I believe the performance of Theo Walcott showcased the argument that he is not ready to take on a central striking role for Arsenal next season. Not meaning that he can never play there for Arsenal, he can be certainly terrorise certain teams with his pace and it will be a case of Arsene doing his homework on the choosing the right teams to utilise Theo’s pace against in a central role.

In yesterday’s game it is a fair conclusion to state that Walcott played well below his devastating best. With the game finely poised against top quality opposition with no need to commit men forward Theo was faced with receiving the ball with men behind the ball and he struggled to make use of the ball when he had it. It’s in games like this you need your forward to show strength and composure on the ball, be able to hold up the ball and bring others into play instead Theo’s play was hurried, his control was off and on too many occasions he ran into blind alleys. He did manage one clear chance which was superbly saved by the keeper; the angle was closed down and would have required good fortune for the ball to squirm its way in.

theo brazil

Nerves may have certainly played a big part in Theo’s game however it’s the big games you want your big players to step up to the mark, that’s what sets them apart from the rest. Theo has had a good season for Arsenal, the stats speak for themselves and this article is in no way an attack on the abilities of Theo Walcott. However it is a reflection on how Arsenal needs to do business this summer to bring in a specialist centre forward to share the load and create competition with Olivier Giroud next season.

Arsene wenger cannot go into the new season stating the squad has sufficient cover with players that can play in the central role such as Theo and Gervinho. The signs were there yesterday in the Brazil game of what is lacking in Theo Walcott’s game before he can make the full on transition to Thierry Henry mark II.

In my opinion the wing is still the best option, playing with talented playmakers’ that can pick him out when flying up the flanks. Until Walcott sharpens up the parts of his game that do not require pace he may have to wait a while before the fans and the manager take his claims for a central role more seriously.

Meanwhile Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain scored a fantastic goal when he came on in the second half at a time when England were trailing and looking devoid of any spark to get back into the game. His brilliant snap-shot squeezed past the outstretched arm of Cesar and into the back of the net to take the game to 1-1. He clearly enjoyed his moment on the pitch and showcased his potential to score a goal out of nothing with his equalizer; an attribute that will be very welcome next season at the Emirates. He has signed off from his second season stutter with a screamer, the perfect tonic to take with him onto next season and hit the ground running.

Enjoy your day people.

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What should I do with my Andre Santos shirt? – AFC

Football shirts, an essential part of a football fans wardrobe, we wear them with pride, we wear them to death and when they are no longer in the condition acceptable to wear in public they make great house shirts to wear for any situation.

I have gone through my fair share of football shirts over the years, mainly arsenal shirts but a few random purchases have snuck into my collection. I own an Olympiacos shirt that cost me the grand total of £2 from the bargain bucket at sports direct last year. Too good a bargain to turn down, no logo on the front just the badge and kit maker logo, only a fan of Olympiacos would recognize it for me it’s a handy option for my 5 a side footie sessions.

With the prices of shirts and the frequency they are churned out at arsenal I don’t even own the current home or away shirt. The tight wad in me is happy to purchase the previous seasons jersey when they hit clearance prices to make way for the latest. Either that or the Christmas/January sales entice me to part with my cash.

One thing that I had stopped doing was purchasing shirts with players’ names on the back. The reasoning behind this wasn’t to save the pennies but the fact that every player I put on the back left us. There’s nothing worse than having a player leave and then you are stuck walking around with an ex players name stuck there much like the indignity of having an ex partners name tattooed on your body.

During the good times I purchased a shirt with Henry printed on the back – gone, Vieira – gone, Pires – gone, Reyes (don’t laugh) – gone. You can almost get away with most of those shirts when certain players carry legendary status with your club. Most of the names I mentioned carry high esteem amongst gunners long after they are gone and so their significance isn’t reduced. Though I am pretty sure there are a high number of fans out there that have possession of a shirt with Samir Nasri’s name across the back, possibly Adebayor too.

When players leave on acrimonious terms and you are left with a shirt carrying their name you might as well throw that shirt in the corner of the bathroom lying in wait for when the toilet needs a good scrubbing. Maybe the letters can be removed, I’ve never tried so don’t know how successful that is.

Now to my dilemma, earlier in the season upon one of my frequent visits to emirates I decided to have a look around the armoury store. I believe this was after one of the u-21 games that were hosted at the emirates. With only five thousand or so fans turning up that day the area was a lot less congested and the store had a more bearable number of people browsing. Normally on a match day the armoury can be so packed there is no room to breathe let alone move around. So on this day I was able to have a look around and take my time, I had no intention to purchase anything but it doesn’t harm to have a look. It was here where I spotted the shirt; it was a Brazil shirt, the latest shirt going for £25. the drawback? It has A. Santos and 11 on the back. Now I am a massive fan of Brazil, have always admired their football and the quality players they have churned out since forever. To own a Brazil shirt has been something I have always considered however I could never justify the purchase due to the price of the shirt. You never get a Brazil shirt for a reasonable price even the older shirts hold their price so to see that the current shirt is available at such a price I just couldn’t turn up the opportunity. I know it was going against my name on the back policy but I was getting a Brazil shirt. Santos was still popular amongst the fans; the speeding incident with the police was still fresh and probably endeared Santos even more to the gunner’s fans. So I bought the shirt, well happy with my purchase I wore it to my next home game I attended.

Fast forward a couple of months and Andre Santos can do nothing right at the moment. His mixed performances since coming into the side because of Kieran Gibbs injury have almost turned him into the pantomime villain amongst arsenal fans. Much like favour turned sour with Emmanuel Eboue once results stopped going our way a similar situation has developed with Santos and it seems it will take a hell of a lot of hard work to win back favour with the arsenal fans.

His confidence is low at the moment and his morale must have been shattered to pieces when Arsene decided to drop Santos in favour of playing Vermaelen out of position in the left back role. Not a good sign when a player being shifted out of position is preferred in your specialist position. That is probably the biggest sign yet that Andre Santos’s arsenal career is on borrowed time. He has every chance between now and the next transfer window to turn things around but at present it seems a hard task.

So this now leaves me in a situation where I have the Brazil shirt I always wanted but the name of Andre Santos on the back which is likely to result is some heckling from football fans. The weather has changed now so im less likely to wear a football shirt fully exposed, the cold in the stands will ensure I am well wrapped up and any shirt I wear will be covered up. However the times I do wear my shirt fully out in all its glory will I be hiding my back to avoid being seen? I suppose when you look at it in the grand scheme of things if every arsenal fan was offered a football shirt with any current players name printed on the back for free what percentage of those fans would request a Santos shirt? Maybe 2-3%? In a way the shirt is unique and maybe I should celebrate the fact I stand out from the thousands of Cazorla and Wilshere shirts.

I spent a season sharing a season ticket for a seat behind a bloke who brought a massive sheet to every game saying ‘Eboue is my homeboy’ funnily enough Eboue would spot this guy every game and on more than one occasion he would go over to the guy at the end of the game and give him his shirt. I used to look on enviously that this guy got the attention just for holding up a flag but he was bold enough to show his support for an out of favour player. The same bloke probably jumped off the nearest bridge when Eboue left.

Could Santos be my Eboue is my homeboy? At a time where he is public enemy number one maybe I should put on my shirt with pride, decorate my bed sheet with an encouraging message for Santos and display it at all the games I go to. It might inspire his performances; he may also donate one of his XXL shirts to me.

Maybe owning the shirt isn’t a bad thing after all, Santos you are my homeboy and you drive how you want. Make me proud to wear your name on my back you are a Brazilian after all…

Enjoy your day people.

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Is Ox the trump card vs Italy? Santos defending questioned – AFC

That’s three quarter finals out-of-the-way now, one more left. This one being the game which carries the most interest for me being England. Why I’m getting excited I don’t know, the football hasn’t been the most entertaining but I suppose once there’s representation from our own in the form of Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain I get that sense of willing them and the team to do well like a pushy parent watching their child in an under-8 match.

Italy is going to be a daunting match; anyone who does not follow either team will struggle to find any positives in a match between two sides whose strengths have been keeping it tight at the back. The match will be as close to a chess game as you can get, there’s no wonder that there has been talk of penalties as this game has stalemate written all over it.

Each country does have an ace up their sleeve to turn the game on its head and provide us with moments of magic to be remembered. In the blue corner is the unpredictable Mario Ballotelli, this guy is such an enigmatic free spirit that he could win the game single-handed… if he feels like it. There is such a fine line with this guy that he has as much chance banging in the winning goal as he has doing something brainless and getting himself sent off, let’s hope its Mr. brainless today. In the white corner it’s our very own Oxlade-Chamberlain. Young Alex has shown so much maturity in this tournament so far, thrust into the starting line up for the opening game against the French he did not let his teammates down.  He has done everything asked of him when he has come on for England as Roy Hodgson has laid down strict instructions to each player to maintain his tactical plans and ensure results are ground out.

Could this be the time that (excuse the copyrighted Wengerism) the hand brake is taken off?  Arsenal fans know what the Ox can do with the ball at his feet and we have witnessed at the Euros so far his unfamiliar restraints as more focus has been on keeping shape, playing it simple and not giving the ball away cheaply.

As these two defensive teams set up against each other it will need the intervention of a special player to make that difference to win the game. Why cant that player to make the difference be Mr Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain?

As much as I think Theo Walcott has earned an opportunity to start and be more involved in the England team I can’t see him getting much change out of the disciplined Italian defence. They won’t leave gaps to exploit and have the nous to play on his weakness: the physical battle. With that said I hope I am completely wrong, I want to be wrong on this front as I hope he can leave as big an impression as he did in the Sweden game.

It really is an opportunity for both our Arsenal starlets to make a real name for themselves. All eyes with be on Italy and England tonight, only one team can win and so someone has to play a part in getting their country through.

It was nice to see Laurent Koscielny play 90 minutes for France last night against Spain. Although Spain came away with a 2-0 win our centre back had a good game and wasn’t overawed by the occasion. Overall there were some undertones coming from the French that all was not well and just like what we saw with the Netherlands it affected the team performance. Nasri started on the bench and despite how much I dislike the mercenary I have to admit he has been one of the better performers so far for the French. The alleged disagreements that have gone on behind the scenes in the French camp had a knock on effect on Laurent Blanc’s team selection resulting in Nasri not starting the game. Even when he did come on in the second half his body language was one of disinterest as his true colours shone through; pretty glad that type of personality is no longer at our great club, good riddance. Let’s hope Giroud and M’Villa weren’t part of the infighting though I believe it revolved more around the senior members of the team. With France now out I’m hoping that the potential deals for the two players can now be concluded.

The Brazil national coach Mano Manezes made a statement this weekend that is unlikely to send ripples of disapproval through everything linked with Arsenal. When questioned about why Andre Santos has lost his place in the Brazil team the manager confirmed his reasoning for this was because Andre Santos is a little bit rubbish at defending. Not in those exact words I admit but the manager did say:

“The problem with Andre Santos is tactical. He turned my hair grey when we were still at Corinthians” “Why? Because he is tactically irresponsible, but he did score 20-goals and it was worth it in the end. It was value for money and with the Seleção (Brazil squad selection), you cannot pay this price”

Sums up his time with Arsenal last season, great going forward he adds that little bit of class to our play with his immaculate touch and control. He certainly scored some important goals for us at times but he also left us Arsenal fans biting our nails through nervousness with some of his defending.

Steve Bould will surely have defending on his radar this season and will ensure as a unit we will be stronger defensively. It will be interesting how Santos takes the news since this directly affects his international opportunities. Unlike Stewart Robson whose only audience should be the Samaritans hotline; Manezes words carry more power and would need to be adhered. He knows Santos from their time together in club football and has probably told the player this a million times. Quotes can look more serious than they are at times and the managers comments could  have been said more light-heartedly for all we know. Though as the saying goes: “many a true word spoken in jest”.

Enjoy your day people

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