And did those feet in Säo Paulo…a few thoughts on the World Cup from an Arsenal perspective
Here we are then, just entering the second weekend of Brazil 2014 and already one of the favorites for the tournament are out as are England’s hopes of this being ‘our year’ (again).
Now I’m aware that readers of Untold come from all over the globe and what unites us is a love of Arsenal not necessarily a shared patriotism.
I am English (technically north-London English) but don’t always find it easy to cheer for the England team. I was cheering on Saturday night as they lost to Italy, mainly because I thought they played quite good football and looked easy on the eye. Wind forward to Thursday and the same old England – tired, bereft of ideas, nervous – were well beaten by Luis Suárez’s Uruguay.
Costa Rica completed the sense of inevitable depression by beating Italy and eliminating us before match three. In terms of Arsenal interest Jack got about 20 minutes against the Italians but Roy Hodgson opted not to use him against Uruguay. The Ox got banjaxed before the tournament started and so may well come home without kicking a ball in anger.
That would be a real shame because I think he has the potential to be a great England player. I think its time for the likes of Gerrard to step aside and for England to let the next generation (which should include Ox, Wilshere, Gibbs and maybe Jenks) to step up. If only Theo had been fit…
The group did show us what a talent Wenger has unearthed in Joel Campbell. His goal and assist against Uruguay were excellent and he was denied the most nailed on of nailed on penalties against Italy. He returns to Colney for pre-season training but it remains to be seen whether Wenger puts him in the first team squad. I have heard rumours that he is to be a makeweight in a deal to bring Mario Balotelli to the Emirates. Sounds a bit far fetched to me.
Elsewhere I saw very little of Germany’s win against Portugal but noted that so much of the Germans’ game goes through Özil. If anyone is any doubt about that man’s abilities, just look at how one of the best teams in the world rate him. You might then compare that to Spain who, despite playing some of the worst football I’ve seen from them, couldn’t find a space for Cesc Fabregas. Arsene knows.
Yesterday we saw more of Mesut as Germany take on Ghana with BFG earning his 100th cap. Germany have hired a trampoline so that someone can actually reach to put it on his head. Meanwhile Lucas Podolski’s tweets have been a joy as usual, he is such an infectious character it would be mad to let him go this summer. Every good court needs its jester. I think Germany might go all the way, despite last night’s hiccup.
Watch Arsenal Live Streams With StreamFootball.tv
In my work sweepstake I got France and they are also looking good. There was no Arsenal interest in their win against Honduras but Ollie Girooooooooöooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooöoooooooooo scored once and ran the length of the pitch to set up another as the French beat Switzerland 5-2. He looked happy and Kos got a game too, coming on for Sakho in the second half. Mind you it was a chastening experience for two ex-Gunners; Senderos and Djorou demonstrated the positional awareness and confidence on the ball that made them a partnership I liked to watch from behind the sofa.
Has anyone been watching Serge Aurier for the Cote d’Ivoire? The man is a BEAST and has an amazing beard. No idea if he can defend yet but he can certainly whip in a cross. And Sanchez for Chile? WOW. If I had a £100,000,000 I think I’d be spending some of it on him.
Finally, and taking my Arsenal hat off, I’ve been musing on the relative statuses of the teams involved in terms of national statistics. For example, if you take England’s group:
- Costa Rica
By far the richest nation there is England: our GDP is around $2,500, billion and places us 6th in the world (behind the US, China, Japan, Germany and France). Italy are in 9th with $2,000 billion but you have to go to 75 to find Uruguay ($57 billion) and 80 to reach Costa Rica ($48,5 billion). The difference in wealth between us and the two Latin American countries and us is enormous.
The UK is ranked 22nd in the world for population (about 64m) while Italy has 61m. Costa Rica is tiny by comparison (4.6m) and Uruguay smaller with just 3.25m. Yet they produced Luis Suárez and we managed Jordan Henderson. Go figure.
The crucial figure though is one Tony has mentioned before: England have around 3,000 coaches working at grassroots football. Spain have 24,000, Germany 35,000 and Italy 29,500. I’ve no idea how many there are in Costa Rica or Uruguay but I’d hazard a guess its disproportionate with the UK.
I’m sad England are out but not at all surprised. Hopefully they can build a squad that has a chance of reaching the last four in the Euros. And one with several Arsenal players – fresh from winning the league (again) and captained by Sir Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain!
The Anniversary Files published by the Arsenal History Society have now reached over 5000 Arsenal related entries. To see all the anniversaries of June just follow the link