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EuroWatch: only the German Gunners left… plus murmurings for Marco Reus.

By Phil Gregory

Laurent Koscielny’s France crashed out against Spain it was possibly one of the most dull matches I can remember having watching. Laurent will be pleased with the start and performance he put in against a Spain side that dominated possession but didn’t ask too many questions going forward, content with keeping the ball after having scored an early goal.

The centreback situation for Arsenal will certainly be an interesting one this coming season. Vermaelen came back into the side and shortly afterwards Mertesacker was injured so there was never really a long period where Wenger had to pick two of the three stand-out centrebacks. The Belgian didn’t impress too much at the end of the season, but it did come out (though I can’t remember my source on this for the life of me, it may have been a comment or article from Walter) that he was playing through an injury to keep us ticking over given Mertesacker’s absence. Given that then, it seems likely that after a summer of rest and an injury-free pre-season, Vermaelen should be back to his best. Mertesacker too will be ready to go for pre-season having got himself fit for Germany this summer. For me though, the first choice centreback has to be Koscielny, and I suspect he will form the best partnership with Vermaelen, given their slightly contrasting style. Mertesacker and Djourou will make excellent back-ups, and the average age of the four of them is great too. That however isn’t great news for the likes of Miquel and Bartley, so perhaps a Premier League loan spell for those two would be best.

Lukas Podolski was on the bench for Germany’s clash versus Greece, with the German coach favouring a different style of wide player to get through Greece’s stubborn defence. It will remain to be seen how he will set up his side against an Italian side that is also well known for its defending and can play with a lack of width too. There may be a temptation for Low to stick with his tricky wingers to stretch the Italian back line, so perhaps we won’t see Podolski before a probable Final appearance.

Then there of course is the small matter of England’s dire display last night, where Walcott appeared off the bench and Chamberlain did not feature. Despite riding their luck when the Italians hit the post early on, England actually played some good stuff in the first half, with some good passing and movement. Had that continued, it would have been an excellent base for Hodgson to have added some directness and penetration to England’s play with Theo Walcott and later, Chamberlain. Alas it was not to be, as England forgot their game plan in the second half and proceeded to defend stoically and win the ball back, before kindly hoofing it back to the Italians to have another go at the English defence…

From then on England rode their luck, and despite good performances from all of the England back four and goalkeeper, the complete absence of a midfield meant they were relentlessly exposed. The limitations of Scott Parker are clear to all with half a brain and can be excused somewhat if he has a good passer on the ball next to him to help him with that aspect of the game (see Parker-Modric at Spurs). England however had Steven Gerrard, who is at his best bombing around the pitch and breaking into the box to score goals, rather than precise midfield play. Despite plaudits from the punditry during this tournament, Gerrard has been poor – set piece deliveries aside – and needed to be much, much better on the ball given he was playing next to Parker. I’d go as far to say Gerrard shouldn’t play in central midfield if you want the best from him, or at least not in a midfield two in any case.

This unfortunately meant that when Walcott was introduced, he got next to no service. The poor lad must be dying to get back to Arsenal now for some of Song’s dinked passes. Get that contract extended while you’re at it, Theo!

So from an Arsenal point of view there is only Podolski to really keep an eye on, with Mertesacker unlikely to be involved and all the rest eliminated. Murmurings of a near completion on the Giroud deal are pleasing, but surely spell the end of Chamakh’s Arsenal career yet there is little talk of an exit for the Moroccan. Interestingly, the Daily Star (I know…) has quotes (the only thing that makes this worth mentioning) of Arsène Wenger saying he is keeping an eye on Dortmund’s Marco Reus. A quick search on youtube didn’t reveal a video of Wenger’s comments which were apparently made while working for French TV. If anyone knows of a link of the video or reputable French source please do post it up in the comments section so we can have a look at it.

20 comments to EuroWatch: only the German Gunners left… plus murmurings for Marco Reus.

  • JackoJack

    Just on the defensive back up I couldnt disagree more with you, your confidence in Djourou is misplaced, hes had plenty of chances with NO performance to bolster your argument. He isnt good enough, get rid. I would like to see Bartley be given a chance to prove himself, he has been out on loan long enough. If we leave it any longer he will be off.

  • Stuart

    I read that Reus has not yet played for Dortmund having only signed with them in January and continueing the season on loan with Monchengladbach.

    Unless he was dire, I can’t see that Dortmund would be considering selling particularly with sell on clauses you see these days.

  • marcus

    Quite amusing to watch the media in, er, paroxysms over Italy and Pirlo.

    Yes, they were good, yes they were technically way better than England, yes they passed us to death…

    but hang on….then the Media claim we need to “find our own Pirlo” and play like Italy.

    These are the same people that lambast Arsenal for playing possession football, majoring in technical skills, and passing other teams to death. These are the same people that say Arsenal play poncy football and should be rightfully kicked to death for un-English activities….(as if Neopolitan sexual proclivities and stringing 25 passes together amount to the same thing)

    These are the same people that ultimately howl with derision when Arsenal outplay another team but draw 0-0

    Makes you wonder hey?

  • Phil says: “Mertesacker and Djourou will make excellent back-ups”.

    Big Al says: “Afraid not.”

  • Gerry Lennon

    What I could not understand with regards to England’s performance was that the use of long ball from the keeper EVERY time, long before the the entrance of the one guy who was likely to win the headers? So predictable. It also exposed the value of having Rooney only available for the last two games, when clearly only half fit?
    What is the point of Henderson? There must be others out there who thinks not only he was over-priced, but also overrated? By having him replace Parker because he was the nearest sub to play that role when we needed to win the game seemed daft.
    Earlier, bringing off Milner, who would have been ideal to shadow Pirlo everywhere, while Walcott could replace him on th right, and takeout the deadweight of Rooney for Carrol seemed to me a much better option? You then could have brought on the Ox to keep them on the backfoot, or Defoe to link up with Carrol’s knockdowns, when Parker went off?
    But what do I know, I only watched the stupid game.

  • Big Al – a couple of seasons ago (IIRC when Vermaelen was injured for the entire season almost) Djourou came in and played very well. Similarly Mertesacker performed well last season, allowing for the first couple of months during which he was adapting to the team, the style and his team mates.

    Naturally everything with football is opinion, but look at our rivals. United have an ageing Ferdinand, Vidic is 31 and coming back from a very serious injury. After that they Evans, Smalling and Jones. Personally, I’d rather have our four than their best four! The same can be said of City – who is there after Kompany and Lescott? Even Toure doesn’t seem to be trusted!

    Much of our defensive problems last season was the regular changes at the back – whether it be the fullbacks or the likes of Koscielny, Vermaelen and Mertesacker all doing a spell on the sidelines. We had no consistency in personnel at the back at all.

  • Gerry -clearly the midfield is down to the bare bones, but to be fair the likes of Wilshere, Barry and Carrick would all be a improvement on both of England’s starting CMs.

    Rooney should’ve come off instead of Welbeck, and Milner should have played in CM for Gerrard who was having a mare.

  • Jack – you must’ve missed the best part of a season Djourou played the other year then. Bartley is clearly not ready yet, you don’t go from playing for Rangers to Arsenal, Miquel will be ahead of him in the pecking order for now.

  • Plus any assessment of Djourou must account for the fact he is 4th choice as it stands, would you rather have City’s Savic?!

  • gooner

    forget reus he is not coming

  • merkin

    Djourou played the vast majority of last season out of position as a fullback.

    We need to get out of the habit of playing our first choice players every match unless injured. We need to rotate the squad to prevent the season end, injury causing fatigue that has characterized the team. We need our three first choice centerbacks playing in rotation through the whole season of EPL and CL play. This is what the competition is now doing.

  • GMP

    @ phil. Spot on my friend.
    Remember djourou v messi home and away? The guy is largely and unfairly underrated by arenal ‘fans’. Having a 1st choice Swiss international (playing under hitsfield) as your 4th choice center back is not a bad position to be in atall

  • The Blaze

    About the Reus-rumour, he hasn’t even fully joined Dortmund yet, as his contract with them will start on July 1st. The one who broke the story, Daily Mail, has removed the article from their site.

    If they can fabricate stories like that, whilst being so ill-informed about the parties they are talking about (blatantly lying), this really should show never to trust anything they say, no matter how good or how bad it might sound.

  • Arun

    That Reus story is a lie as are most of mail’s other s*** transfer stories.
    Did Henderson even touch the ball after coming on the pitch???

  • nicky

    Just read on another site that according to Patrick Vieira, England will never win a Euro or World Championship unless the FA introduce a winter break. I wonder if he’s got a point.

  • Well there are quotes from when he was on French TV the other night, it would be very easy to prove to be a lie if it were a lie because I’m sure many millions were listening. I’m just curious, and waiting for a link to prove either way from someone more in the know with french football TV.

  • Pat

    Good advice to Theo, Phil – about hurry up and extend the contract I mean!

  • Critic

    Seriously my god, this entire article just fell on deaf ears the minuite u said Central mid isnt Gerrads best position, and called him a bad passer of the ball, its because he’s so complete that people expect everything from him, if u play in a team that cant keep the ball like england then everyones gona look like they cant pass.

    and no im not a liverpool fan. and hopely Theo gets sold…who the hell does he think he his trying to bargain with the club that has so much patience with him when hes not even proved anything yet.

  • Asif

    We don’t need Reus…I think with all that we have bought…we are good for the season..except M’Vila (maybe). I really liked his long ball distribution and we never play that sort of a game..but maybe it can adda new dimension to our game!!!

    One more thing…it felt very good to see the Manure captain relegated to the bench by Clichy! Yipee!

  • Critic, I think you need to watch the games a little more closely. Gerrard’s passing in this tournament has been consistently poor – the statistics bear that out and watching it with an unbiased eye bears that out too.

    He’s best playing behind a striker, offering a goal threat and bursting into the box. He’s too indisciplined too play a standard CM role.