Euro2012: Arsenal edition.

By Phil Gregory

To keep us in Arsenal-related fare over the next couple of weeks I’m going to be keeping an eye on the tournament and anything of interest for Gooners. Without further ado…

This evening saw France play England, with Arsenal’s very own Chamberlain starting on the left of England’s midfield in a somewhat surprise move from Roy Hodgson. While the French bossed the game and dominated possession, Chamberlain impressed on the ball and on one occasion beat two men with excellent feet to create a great chance.  Euro 2012 is a very big bettering event: if you like a flutter offers daily football betting tips and free bets exclusive deals throughout the event.

At eighteen years of age, the youngster is showing fantastic maturity to step up and perform on the international stage in such a fiercely-contested match (France vs. England is pretty much a derby). Indeed, these performances only build on a solid first season with the Gooners, where he impressed both on the left hand side and even in central midfield versus Milan in a dominant performance in the Champions League second leg. He wasn’t a regular last season, but our Ivorian may need to watch his back next year,and I’m a big fan of Gervinho.

Another Arsenal man was involved versus France, but only as a substitute. Theo Walcott came on late on and interestingly played up front. Most would have expected him to play on the right and attack Evra’s tired legs, but perhaps Roy wanted to keep that flank solid with Milner and try and use Walcott’s pace against the not very fleet of foot French centre backs. Still, seeing Walcott play as a striker was interesting, though I do think his normal position on the right of the attack is virtually that of a striker… he cuts in and plays very centrally as Robin drops deep to tee up play. Then there was Milner rounding Lloris and putting it wide, Walcott would have buried that chance.

Laurent Koscielny is one of only three centre backs in the French squad, so whilst he is not in the line up as it stands, he could well have a big role to play for France should anything happen to Mexes or Rami. Neither of the latter two have been getting rave reviews for their defensive performances and I think on quality alone Laurent could be worth a start, though justifiably Blanc is going for familiarity at the heart of defence. It is really important to have defenders who know what each other will do in various situations, especially as centrebacks don’t really function as individuals but as an integrated pair, always acting and covering according to what the other centre back is doing. Hopefully we’ll get to see more of Laurent in future games.

In the interests of fairness, I’ll also take a risk here and point out that, unfortunately for us, Samir Nasri seems to be maturing well and is growing into a key player for both City and France. He improved greatly after an average start with City, and he’s certainly influential for the French team. While £25m was good money for him when everything is considered, I believe that his departure was the one that really messed things up last summer – my impression is that Gervinho’s signing was to allow Nasri to replace Cesc in that central playmaking role where we have been lacking somewhat this year.

Reported Arsenal targets M’Vila and Giroud weren’t involved versus England.

Another game worthy of mention is Russia’s demolition of the Czech Republic a couple of days ago, with one Andrei Arshavin highly influential in that result. The little Russian’s quality is undoubted from his performances with Russia over the last few years and his early Arsenal career, but it is undeniable that he lost his way after that bright start. At one stage Walcott edged him out of the side with Nasri playing on the opposite flank, and the Frenchman’s departure didn’t open up a place for Arshavin due to Gervinho’s arrival. His recent loan move to Zenit makes it seem highly unlikely that he will return to Arsenal, however it is plausible that Wenger sanctioned the loan move with Arshavin’s international career in mind: bear in mind at that stage in the season, Arshavin was behind Gervinho, Walcott, Chamberlain and Benayoun for a place on the flanks, so it didn’t represent much of a gamble in terms of injury cover.

That said, hypothetically speaking, if Arshavin’s Arsenal career did resume I don’t foresee him returning to the flanks. This season we’ve changed tactically slightly: we now have much more direct players on the flanks, perhaps to compensate for our lack of creativity in the middle of the park (to be fair to Arsene, you don’t find another Cesc Fabregas very easily). However, given our lack of creativity, is it plausible that Arshavin could take the attacking midfield role in our side? For me, that position is our clear weakness despite Rosicky’s improvement this season, and a returning Arshavin may be a very good internal solution. Arshavin’s best position is the “number 10” the striker who drops off and plays deep, creating chances for others, which is virtually the role of our attacking midfielder. My concern with this would be the defensive side of things, would Arshavin cover the ground the likes of Rosicky do? I don’t think so, so such a move would require a slight readjustment in terms of the other two midfielders’ defensive duties. In effect, instead of having a fairly fluid midfield three, we’d be looking at a fairly advanced playmaker in Arshavin, with two other deeper midfielders providing balance and getting forward alternatively. It could work, but the key is ensuring that the playmaker role is given plenty of attacking freedom: if you put Arshavin in a more typical midfield role the side would lack balance, so offsetting the Russian’s defensive weakness would be the key to the success of the change.

As I say, it is all pretty unlikely given his loan move away to Zenit, but it is a possibility… whether or not it would work or not is another matter. Perhaps it could be an option versus some sides in the league, though of course that point leads to questions as to the 25 man squad limit and wages.


I’ll wrap up there for now, and will be back with another post on Thursday, focusing on the Dutch and German matches, though Arshavin may just pique my interest in the Russians again…


Bloody good tournament so far!

18 Replies to “Euro2012: Arsenal edition.”

  1. Was very impressed with Arshavin in his first game for Russia. Quality player. Like the look of Dzagoev too, the young midfielder.

    A good competetive debut for Chamberlain too, well done to the lad. Had some very good spells during the game.

    And as you pointed out, a good performance and important goal by Nasri.

  2. It seemed to me that the French stopped attacking the second Walcott came on, and just rather boringly held possession in midfield. I thought they were a bit frightened of him.

  3. I think the only game so far not to have a Gunner or former Gunner, involved has been the Ireland Vs Croatia game. All have done well except Chesney, who I expect to bounce back.

  4. @ El Gringo, I thought that too! I think Theo should of been brought on earlier. France were also afraid of Alex OC and fouled him at every opportunity.

  5. The Ireland vs. Croatia game albeit had a former though Eduardo didn’t do much or hv a hand in any of d goals.

  6. Good to have you back Phil after all that boring nonsense with exams.

    Have to say I was amazed at Arshavin – he was deceptive – sometimes just walking slowly, and then suddenly finding the right pass, and the right place to be.

    If only we could harness that ability, he would be a sensation again, as he was with his four against Liverpool.

  7. As my own country is not involved (luckily I would say…even more boring football on display…) I think I can have a neutral view on things.
    I must admit I didn’t see all the games from the first till the last minute. (Still had a bit of work on the ref reviewing front you know 😉 )

    The top teams have disappointed a bit. The Dutch in particular with some poor finishing.
    I almost fell asleep during England-France in the second half and a French supporter actually did it in the stadium.

    I rather enjoyed Ukraine – Sweden a lot as this was a game with both teams actually trying to win the game. And not just trying to avoid defeat like many other teams just did

    Russia was strong and played some nice stuff.

    The Germans started as usual in first gear but I think they will shift up to a higher gear in the next games (as they always do)

    I don’t think the refs have covered themselves with glory and to be honest when I looked at some names it didn’t surprise me at all. Lots of Platini refs out there who have been doing “a nice job” (if you know what I mean) for some teams in the CL but who didn’t convince me then and still don’t.

    Oh and I have heard that even the English pundits complained about the ref in the France-England game. Now, doesn’t it even out anymore now England is on the bad end of it?

    Just a note: don’t expect any ref reviews about the euro’s. I will be glad to answer questions if something happens but I will not have enough time to stick my nose in this. I have other and more important things to do like writing a few words about the refs in the Pl season.

  8. Watching the England/France game, I couldn’t help thinking of Walter and his referees’ reviews. I don’t know who the guy was but an analysis of his one-sided decisions was reminiscent of a Man Utd/Arsenal game over the last 10 years.
    France were lucky they didn’t come up against the yellow-card obsessive ref who officiated at the Russia/Czech game.

  9. Phil you are right, the best position for Arshavin is number 10. Arsene try to move him on the left, but he is not happy, so it did not worked

    This season, only played in a few times, Arshavin help us get 6 points.

    3 points from him is when we beat Swansea 1-0 at home, yes that is goalkeeper mistake, but Arshavin react very quick and his shoot is good.

    The second 3 points is when we beat Sunderland in their home, he gives very good assist to TH14 goal.

    I like him, but I don’t expect him on our squad next season. Even he goes, I always remember him as Arsenal player who scored 4 in Anfeild (yes, yes, I also remember Baptista)

    до свиданйя андрея!
    я люблю тебя!

  10. Ong Bing

    Look at Arshavin’s heat map from the Czech Republic match.. He spent almost his entire time out on the left wing..Exactly where he played for Arsenal. I don’t think it had anything to do with being played out of position

  11. Arshavin’s loan move was very interesting — I think Advocaat has said that he wanted to use a core of players who were familiar with each other, so Arshavin needed a spell with either Zenit or CSKA to retain his place in the side, let alone his armband. I’m not sure whether it foreshadows his departure or not.

    Positionally, while we’ve heard the central-or-wide debate pretty much since he signed, he did spend the Russia-Czech Republic game cutting in from wide positions. I think Arsenal wouldn’t have to make too many tactical concessions to keep him, but with Walcott / Gervinho / AOC / Rosicky (who may get pushed up with Wilshere coming back into midfield) / Park(?) available, I’m not sure we have the games he’d want.

    If Zenit let us turn a net profit on his transfer following a well-played Euro 2012, I guess I could see letting him go.

  12. @ Shard. Exactly right. Arshavin played the same role for Russia as do does for Arsenal, only much better! I’ve always maintained that Arshavin has exactly the skill set needed for Arsene’s interpretation of the creative half/winger. Seeing that performance only confirms my suspicion that Andrei’s poor performances for Arsenal were more mental than anything else. Which leads me to believe that we’ll be happy to sell him.

  13. Shard you make a good point – really, the skill set for an Arsenal-style wide player is similar to that of a number ten (passing, dribbling, touch, creativity etc). Positionally there’s no reason Arshavin on the left shouldn’t work (look at his stats, even when he lost his place in the team he recorded a stack of goals and assists, better Cesc that season IIRC), and if anything life becomes easier on the left – no defensive midfielder to directly mark you, and a bit more space generally than in the middle.

    That said I don’t see him going back there – we seem to be going for more direct wide players with Gervinho and Walcott, plus the likes of Miyaichi and Chamberlain in a similar mould too. Arshavin’s Arsenal career depends on whether we can get him playing in Rosicky’s current position, but it seems unlikely to me.

  14. So, Arshavin failed in Arsenal is not technical aspect. Maybe he is not happy in London? Home sick?

    I hope Podolski not failed like Arshavin, once he failed when he moved to Bayern.

    I really hope we can have a good season next season.

  15. AAAAAHHHHH FUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Rosicky is injured, tournament over. An Achilles problem apparently.

    Lets hope and pray it isn’t too serious…. 🙁

  16. Regarding Arshavin,

    This is an assumption but I doubt he is expected to work as hard off the ball for Russia as he is for Arsenal due to the cultural differences between international and EPL football; Joe cole noted that the main difference between the EPL and ligue 1 was that when Lille lost the ball he was not expected to rush the full back to get it back nor rush back to help the fullback- i expect this is a signinifant difference that arshavin experiences himself.

    @Rust “If Zenit let us turn a net profit on his transfer following a well-played Euro 2012, I guess I could see letting him go.
    ..”, if arsene sells him, lets just hope we get a healthy and appropriate amount for a player of his quality.

    EH? in what world do you think Zenit are going to pay over 17 mill for arshavin (so that we make a net profit on him)?

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