The Armchair Gooner

An Arsenal blog bringing you news, opinion and humour on a daily basis. Well, I'll try at the very least…

Unexploded transfer bombs.

“Tom, you’ll need to have that looked at”

Good evening, fellow Earth creatures.

It’s late. I know, I know – I ought be publishing my drivel at a more acceptable time of day. Some of you have jobs, you have spicy sexual practices, you have a penchant for television programmes and the lateness may prevent some of you reading. For that, I apologise and I do so profusely.

Talk of all things Arsenal has built to a crescendo. A crescendo of tedium and exasperated huffing. There’s so little going on out there relating to our beautiful club. We long to feel the soothing warmth of Arsene’s mellifluous tones informing us of team spirit and “great mental strength”. Instead, we are left to fein interest in a European championships and hope that Xavi and Busquets don’t get their grubby paws anywhere near another prestigious trophy – my support for Italy in the final has nothing to do with the whopping £32 I’m set to win if they emerge the victor…

But I sense news brewing. Like an unexploded bomb buried in the sand, something awaits to punctuate the lamentable boredom and brighten our summer. It’s out there, folks. I feel the unmistakeble stirring of my loins. Something of note, of importance, awaits us.

The only question that remains until it’s great unveiling is “what?”. Well, it could be a plethora of things. Perhaps, our great Dutch talisman will announce he’s told Manchester City to insert their vast fortune into an orifice usually used to repel things. He’s a Gooner, and, by the power of Christ (or Greyskull), he’ll be going nowhere. A glorious charge for domestic immortality awaits him.

Of course, we could be nearing another ‘Sol Campbell’ moment. Arsene Wenger is a clandestine and wily individual – who knows what dastardly schemes he’s put into action. A bid for someone few of us would dare dream of? It could be. A double signing from under the noses of one of our rivals? We can only cross those parts of our anatomy God intended to be crossed.

The point to all this – there is one – is deliciously simple: at a time where none of us can truly know what awaits us, why not be light-hearted and jovial? Too many folks out there allow themselves to get sucked into the maelstrom of bitterness, and for what? Do they hope perennial misery will some how affect the choices of those that reside in positions of power?

As supporters, we have a right to be heard; to make known our grievances. But at a time where speculation rules, why not hope for the best? There is a clean slate ahead of us. A brand new, as-yet un-sullied league season awaits. Hope should return, and that we missed for huge parts of the previous campaign.

Time will tell who we go into the new season with. I hope you’ll join me in quietly believing it’s going to be something good this time around.

That’s me done for today. Apologies again for the lateness. I hope you’ll take a moment to comment in the section below.

I shall return.

Arsenal news: transfers, departures, contracts? Well, there isn’t much today…

Henry The Cat turned on SSN…

Afternoon, delicious lifeforms.

Wow. It’s a quiet one today. If you’ve searched around looking for news, updates, shocking revelations or speculative delight; I’m afraid you may leave disappointed. The summer months often bring days like today. Some days are filled with all kinds of news, others… well, they can be similar to that bit in Vanilla Sky when Tom Cruise is running around a deserted Times Square.

As a blogger committed to bringing you a daily post – come rain or shine – I’m left with something of a pickle. What in the blue blazes do I talk to you about? I could divulge a few personal insights into my conjugal arrangements, but I imagine my special lady mightn’t take to kindly. I could tell you what I had for breakfast -Eggs Benedict – but that’s flirting dangerously with becoming a little tedious.

Over the past few days whilst scouring those blogs out there I like to read myself, I did come across an article I found particularly interesting. It goes into detail describing a few potential formation changes, and is written by the Arsenal blogging world’s equivalent to Winnie The Pooh, Daniel Cowan. Certainly worth a few minutes of your day.

Also, I like to point you in the direction of a book written by Ian Castle. Ian E-mailed me to share his work, and it’s very good indeed. It’s called, Arsenal: The Agony and the Ecstacy – and it has a dedicated Facebook page which you can ‘like’ if you’re a regular user of that kind of thing.

In the world of Twitter, yesterday stories popped up saying Robin has signed himself to the devil and Manchester City, today we get the opposite. Some journalists from the BBC – an organisation I respect – are  tweeting that Robin prefers a new contract with Arsenal. His priority is to stay on here, but the ball is the the club’s court. Of course, I put as little faith in this as I did yesterday’s, but it did get me to thinking. Purely for the sake of discussion: If Arsenal could get £25-30m for Robin, and that money was guaranteed  to be re-invested on new players, would you consider taking it?

And that’s about it for today. Apologies I couldn’t bring you any thing new or substantial. Tomorrow I shall double my endeavours and hunt down a few tasty treats for you viewing pleasure. Until then, thanks for reading, you beautiful bastards. The comments are below if you wish to discuss the Robin van Persie topic.

I await your thoughts with baited breath.

 

‘Sources’ say Robin has agreed a contract with Man City. Who are these ‘sources’?

Big Ted: source of all the information – he’s an ‘ITK’…

Evening, folks.

I’m sure you’ve all heard the various ‘exclusives’ and such that perpetually float around news outlets. ‘Sources’ – allegedly reliable ones – say that Robin has agreed a contract with Man City – a deal that was done as far back as March. The wages are said to be in the region of £225k-per-week. A hefty sum, to say the very least.

As I touched on in yesterday’s post, sources are essentially a way of legitimising bullshit. Sources could be anyone. They could be a pensioner hobbling down to the CoOp for biscuits who just happens to know each integral detail of Nicklas Bendtner’s preferred destination when he leaves Arsenal. My Bear, Big Ted, could be a source. He could have a wealth of knowledge to pass on regarding Theo Walcott’s contract stipulations that mean he’s allowed 75 minutes a day to concentrate on his Pokemon collection.

Point being; these people are simply making things up, and the luxury of possessing too much integrity to reveal their sources allows them to do so. It’s a two-way street. My sources inform me Oliver Holt regularly performs fellatio on homeless men whilst  Technotronic’s ‘Pump Up The Jam’ plays in the background. I can’t reveal my sources, however. But I can say it wasn’t Big Ted – he’d have nothing to do with that fucking prat.

All this farrago of misinformation does is make us all that bit more aware of how insane this time of year is. Nobody can truly know where Robin’s thoughts are at this moment, with the exception of him and a few important folks at Arsenal. I hope we’d not sell him to City – I’d like to think we’ve done enough business with them over the years.

Worst of all – I’ve no idea where I’m going with this, by the way – is the waiting. We wait. We wait some more. We hope news will arrive. It doesn’t. We wait. Robin van Persie is a great captain, he could become an Arsenal legend if that captaincy leads to some silverware. It’s hard to deny he’d have better opportunities to win things elsewhere, but that sweet taste of success won’t be the same as it would be in the red of Arsenal.

Time alone will tell where this goes. I still hold a degree of hope he’ll be with us for a while longer. What I don’t do is pay any attention to is the media – they’d sell each and every one of us unbridled horseshit if they though their careers would even slightly benefit. I intend to wait until the story breaks officially.

That’s me done for today, folks. It was a bit of a disjointed and odd post today, wasn’t it? Sometimes I like to write from the top of my head without stopping and post the results – I figure it’s an honest way of doing it.

Thanks for reading, you beautiful bastards. I look forward to hearing your views on the subject in the comments.

I’ll be back tomorrow.

Welcome Giroud, plug pulled on M’Vila and cackling transfer spinsters.

“I will let you know more when I have it…”

Evening, precious.

We are here. Gone is the participation of England in an international tournament. What remains is a state of footballing purgatory; a desolate, frightening area, bereft of our beautiful game and accompanied by the perpetual howls of cackling transfer spinsters.

The spinsters I mention are those folks out there in Arsenal’s gargantuan blogging community with a propensity for invention, and no small measure of perseverance, too. They cackle and shriek potential gossip, they twitter and tweet until each fantastical, nonsensical notion they’ve cultivated and sent into the world has sufficiently garnered responses and attention. Essentially, they are proficient merchants of balderdash.

I’ve often considered giving it a shot. The concept is deliciously simple: I’d claim to have an ‘inside source’ who risks certain dismissal to hand me nuggets of information no other human being can possibly get their paws on. Once said nuggets were in my possession, I’d begin tweeting with no small measure of self-importance. I’d say things like “I’ll let you know more when I have it” or “Tomorrow I’ve got a big scoop” in order to portray myself as a wise old sage who has your best interests at heart.

Of course, those of you blessed with an iota of common sense would see through my ruse. “Piss off, James” you’d angrily declare. “You have self-esteem issues and these rumours are nothing more than a scramble for the gratification focus and attention brings” you’d rightfully sneer. “You are no more ‘ITK’ than an assortment of disgruntled  geese” would be your final – slightly bizarre – denunciation.

With such antics rife, it’s nice to see that we have official conformation today. Olivier Giroud is a Gooner. There’s proof. I have some, too. Here it is:

Who’s this dashing individual?

Splendid news. Arsene Wenger himself also seems quite chuffed – bless his cotton socks. He had this to say about our newest French import.

“Olivier has a very good physical presence and is exceptional in the air, with a great work ethic.

“We are excited about Olivier joining us and he will add an additional dimension to our attacking options next season.

“He has proved that he is capable of performing at the top level with club and country, and we saw what a big influence he was in Montpellier’s championship-winning side last season.”

The man once alarmingly dubbed as ‘the French Andy Carroll’ by someone – I forget who it was – has an excellent scoring record in France with Montpellier. Like most of you, I can’t claim to be an expert on his abilities, but from what I’ve mustered thus far, he looks a fine signing and I’m very happy.

Elsewhere, a few little bits of news began filtering around that Arsene has pulled the plug on the M’Vila deal due to Yann’s unpredictable and petulant behaviour – I assume this is because he slapped his sisters boyfriend. Whether or not this carries any truth, or is simply the work of the spinsters remains to be seen.

That’s all for today. I’ve had a busy old day and I’m pooped. An evening of looking at potential holiday destinations beckons. Thanks for reading, you beautiful bastards. Please take a moment to comment. Go on. You know you wanna…

Penalties, despair, ineptitude, Wilshere, Oxlade-Chamberian, vitriol and more.

“Bollocks”

Morning, folks.

Football can be a cruel mistress. Just as she builds up your hopes, as expectations grow and hope appears on the horizon; she kicks you square in the testicles. Those of us who love the beautiful game have all experienced the crushing low a defeat can bring – regardless of just how inevitable it may be. It’s that hope that kills you; that unwavering notion that this time is going to be different.

Some will take to their keyboards filled with bitterness and attempt to dissect England’s performance with vitriol and ill-concieved calls for resignations. Abuse will be throw and the word ‘shit’ will be overused. Pundits will wallow in pity and cast envious eyes over the nations with admirable technicians and the ability to retain the ball. Battling spirit as a concept will be replaced by accusations of ineptitude and bottling.

Me? Well, I think the team did as well as they could. As a footballing nation, we simply aren’t at the standard of Germany or Spain – we haven’t been for some time, if ever. Roy Hodgson attempted to galvanise a team lacking standout performers into a tough-to-beat opponent, and he did that very well. Some would claim these tactics to be negative, but he was left little option with the resources at his disposal.

When it comes down to the harshness of reality; did anyone truly expect England to sweep aside all comers and roar to glory? No. It’s difficult to glean many positives from a match in which we were comprehensively outplayed and deservedly lost, but I find it puerile to switch from hope to fury with such immediacy. England lost on penalties after reaching a quarter final against better opposition. Things panned out in a manner few can be surprised by.

The burning question is one of the future. Where do England go from here? Can we look forward to a similar scenario playing out in Brazil? – should we qualify, of course. England do have hope. The likes of Wilshere, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Walker, Jones and Welbeck have bright futures. Joe Hart is, and will be for the foreseeable future, an excellent goalkeeper. However, the problem requires a greater solution. The problem is more than just personnel.

England need to change the way they play. A ridged 4-4-2 formation might suit the scrappier teams of the Premiership, but it falls flat when deployed in international football. In a game where ball retention is now king, England must not only learn to keep it, but to be able to use it clinically. Unfortunately, this is not something that can be changed miraculously overnight. Such an upheaval will take time. Jack Wilshere is a technically excellent footballer. England need one or two more like him than they do anymore ‘Scotty’ Parkers.

To summerise, as I’m writing mainly off the top of my head, I can’t be devastated by my national team’s exit, as it was as predicatble as the day is long. I dared to dream briefly, I allowed hope to sweep over me and I felt things might just be different this time. They weren’t, and I’ve a kick to the testicles to show for it.

However, I won’t join in slaughtering a team who certainly tried their best. For some, that best simply wasn’t good enough. Roy Hodgson took us as far as he could. With time, he might just be able to take us a bit further. In 2 months, he did as well as could be expected and for that he deserves credit.

That’s all for today folks. Apologies for the lack of Arsenal news, but there isn’t much about today. With the Euros now a closed book as far as my interest goes, I hope we can look forward to some good news on the transfer front, and a bit better fortune for the Arsenal once the season starts.

Thanks for reading today, you beautiful bastards. The comments are below, so feel free to drop in a few of your own thoughts.

England, Denilson, van Persie, Germany, Ozil, Italy and bits.

No one told Tracey her flag was back-to-front…

Morning, Earthlings.

Having previously stated to you England at the Euros was of little interest to me, I now find myself swept away by things and – dare I say it – that old familiar feeling in my stomach of brewing nerves and excitement is very much present. I’m looking forward to tonight’s game, and I’m optimistic.

That’s not to say I’m expecting victory. Pundits and journalists seem to forget we have to beat Italy and they seem keener on reporting about our next potential opponents – Germany. Italy are a solid and well organised team. They enough quality in the important areas to threaten any team in the world. They certainly command respect. They may not have the footballing brilliance of a Mezut Ozil in their ranks, but they do boast someone as insanely unpredictable as Mario Balotelli.

On the subject of Ozil – how good is he? Against Greece, he was mesmerising – a player so gifted he simply glides around the pitch making the difficult appear effortless. One of my favourite players to watch at the moment.

As for England, I imagine we’ll see very much the same tonight. Hodgson hasn’t worried about anything fancy-pants and set up England to have 2 solid banks of 4 and be difficult to break down. I envisage something of a cagey affair tonight with both teams looking to break when the opportunity arises. For that reason, and not Arsenal bias, I hope they select Walcott. What England’s attack lacks is pace. For all his workrate and effort, James Milner has very little in the way of end product. He does offer more defensively,  and I expect Theo will be deployed as a sub to attack tiring legs, but I would like to see an outright threat on our wings – something for the Italian defence to really worry about and make them think twice about leaving space behind.

I won’t make any predictions on the game, I’ll only say that my fingers are crossed and I have a good feeling about it.

There’s little or no Arsenal news today. Denilson is headed back to London as Sao Paulo have baulked at the £5m asking price and prefer another loan. Personally, I’d just let them have him for a lot less. We can come to a civil arrangement, and the sooner the unwanted players are shifted, the better.

Like most of you, I check the morning headlines hoping to hear some sort of word from Robin van Persie. As yet – sod all. His Euros ended a few days ago, and I imagine he’s swanned off somewhere nice on Holiday. I expect we’ll hear some news by the end of next week – hopefully we do, that is. The longer it drags on, the harder it will be to replace him, or use the fee to strengthen the team. The quicker, the better please Arsenal.

That’s all for today. Leave a comment with a few of your views. Thanks for reading, you deliciously splendid rascals. I shall return tomorrow.

Snore-fest, Bendtner, Giroud, M’Vila, Fabregas, Spain, transfers and stuff

Xavi to Iniesta to Xavi to Iniesta to..zzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Later than usual greetings, folks.

Oddly enough, I have a phobia of falling asleep in chairs. It’s the notion of falling backwards or sideways and waking up in a crumpled heap of bones and pain that unsettles me enough to prevent dozing off. Spain – in tonights game, and throughout the tournament – bore me to tears. Tonight I fell asleep in a chair watching them.

Mercifully, I’ve no broken bones or injuries to report. Yes, I am fully aware of their technical brilliance. Unquestionably, they have very gifted players. But they have become monstrously fucking dull now the novelty has worn off.

The World Cup final tipped me over the edge. The tippa-tappa football doesn’t provide anything exhilarating.  Watching Xavi and Iniesta pass back an forth to each other repeatedly is something I’d liken to being forced to watch Spiderman 3 over and over – it’s all very flashy, but nothing really happens. At least with Barcelona you have Messi to liven things up.

I think my brewing disdain stems from the abhorrent characters they have in their team. People rightfully critiqued the Dutch’s tactics in that final, but I couldn’t help but wish Mark van Bommel would lose his sanity completely and drop kick Sergio Busquets. Even Cesc, a player I once worshipped, has exhibited the odd bout of petulance you’d expect to see from Xavi.

The French paid the price for doing what so many do – they worried more about Spain than they did trying to impose their own game. It’s a given the Spanish will enjoy the majority of the possession, but if you’re not going to at least try to attack them, you’re just waiting until you concede.

Of course, as an Arsenal fan I paid most of my (conscious) attention to Laurent Koscielny. I do love him. He’s gone from a few first season wobbles to become a accomplished defender, and he held his own comfortably. The two could-be-Gooners, M’Vila and Giroud, were fairly disappointing – especially M’Vila who appeared a little off the pace and spent the occasional moment drooling with admiration at Xabi Alonso. I also heard someone refer to Giroud as ‘the French Andy Carroll’ which has alarmed me no end.

Lastly, as this is a quick update before I head to bed – I’m bloody shattered, Nicklas Bendtner looks like he might be headed to mega-rich Malaga. Given they’ve got wads of cash dripping from their earholes, I think we could get a tidy little sum for the greatest striker in the known universe. They might even be able to pay his wages and keep him in ridiculous hats….

That’s all for now. Tomorrow is the big England game. I shall be addressing that in the morning’s post. Until then, drop me a comment, and thanks for reading, you beautiful bastards.

“90% an Arsenal player” is still 10% away from being one.

Olivier had heard all about Nicklas Bendtner’s driving.

Good morning, delicious readers.

Olivier Giroud. His is the name smacking off the lips of an aroused collective of Gooners today, as there are some Wenger quotes doing the rounds that say the deal is all but done. Those quotes are:

“Giroud didn’t play much (at the Euros so far), but he’s going to be an Arsenal player 90 per cent next season.”

“I think he has exceptional potential and will integrate very well in our collective and our way of playing. He is a real team player and knows how to combine with other players and I’m sure he will do well with us.”

Sounds like it’s a certainty if the boss is already referring to him as an Arsenal player. Of course, in instances such as this one, the nay-sayer element of my personality crops up. I’m the kind of guy who refuses to believe anything unless given concrete and absolute proof – even as a child I viewed Father Christmas with great suspicion. I know what you’re thinking, “Geez, cheer up, you miserable sod” and you’d not be acting outrageously saying so.

Miserable I am not – I’m delighted we appear to be making good additions. Sceptical – that’s more like it. Having immersed myself in a plethora of babble and poppycock over the past few weeks whilst hunting for stories and news, I’ve developed an immunity to transfer speculation. A reflex action to exclaim “BALDERDASH!” fires from my mouth when I read the vast majority of unsubstantiated drivel out there at the moment.

So it is with a healthy splash of scepticism I look at Giroud as being a lot of things; a good player, a very welcome addition to the squad, a sign of things to come and hope. But he is NOT an Arsenal player until that percentage rating goes up to the full 100. If things were cast in stone, then Wenger wouldn’t have left a, albeit small, percentage of doubt, would he?

That story broke whilst I was watching the coma-inducingly dull Euro 2012 quarter final, in which the BBC essentially dedicated an entire programme to Ronaldo sycophancy. The game was appallingly tedious to such and extent I amused myself trying to make innuendo from the commentators words – “he’s gone for the long diagonal” being a personal favourite. The group stages threw up a few entertaining fixtures. Tournament football always goes the same way; once pressure and the fear of elimination sets in, spectacle and entertainment makes way for the cagey approach. Unless your team is involved, and you are emotionally, watching can be a real chore.

Tonight, I expect Greece to show little or no desire to attack, and Germany will gradually break them down and win 1-0. Given my propensity for inaccurate predictions, there should be a 7 goal thriller to watch later.

That’s all for today, folks. Thanks for reading, commentating and for your genera support. If you’re a new reader, or a regular returning; I thank you very much for making this blog worthwhile. If you’re one of those irksome swines who keep trying to get your ridiculous spam comments approved; go f**k yourself. I do not need cheap Air Jordan’s or female viagra – regardless of how intriguing the latter is.

I shall return tomorrow. Until then, the comments await your views, thought and hurtful insults.

Free Flamini? Transfer guff, England and bits.

Flamini at his best/worst…

Evening all.

It’s pissy and rainy outside. British weather, aye? Where has the summer gone? Bloody typical, it is…

It’s a damning insight into the lack of Arsenal news that I’ve to begin a post with something as inane as weather chatter. There is little or nothing new to report today.

The only bit of fairly interesting news is Mathieu Flamini’s release from AC Milan. I liked Flamini. He secured a place in my heart during our run to the Champions League final when he excelled covering at left-back. After that, we nearly dumped him off to Birmingham, but he stayed on to eventually have an excellent season in his natural position in the midfield alongside Cesc.

That final year, he was brilliant. Of course, he rather spoilt all that by deciding to bugger off to AC Milan, but I’d be telling fibs if I said there isn’t a little candle still burning in my heart for him. So now, the question is; would you have him back?

My honest answer is no. We wouldn’t need him. If we strengthen his area of expertise, I’d be a great deal happier if it was Yann M’Vila. Granted, I do feel he is a better combative player than Alex Song, but sometimes it really isn’t wise to go back to your old stomping ground – especially if your departure left a bitter taste in the mouth. I’ve a sneaky suspicion he might end up in the Premiership, though – not Spurs after that horror tackle…

Elsewhere, as we wait eagerly for transfer news to break – all is quiet and serene. There are no massive, spectacular deals or explosive rumours to send chatterboxes into verbal overdrive. The Goonerverse remains an eerie place of silence. Robin hasn’t declared his undying love for Arsenal and signed a new 5-year contract, Giroud is no more an official Arsenal player than I am, and the story about a “%99 done” deal for M’Vila languishes in the drawer marked ‘okay, someone has their facts wrong’.

With that lack of delicious Arsenal goodness, my thoughts have turned to the England game on Sunday. What the hell has happened to me? Not only am I looking forward to it, I’m starting to feel that unmistakable jangled belly you’d associate with pre-game nerves. I’m not at the point where I’ll be painting my face as St George’s cross, or drunkenly bellowing, “ENG-ER-LAND, ENG-ER-LAND” as I shamble down my local street. However, there is hope brewing within me, and I will be supporting the team as best I can – I’ll have to focus a large percentage of my efforts on ignoring the fact John Terry is there.

Just goes to show I was being a bit of a miserable sod when I said I wasn’t all that interested.

I think that’ll do for today folks. Scrumptious pie and chips awaits me, as does tonight’s quarter-final. I hope you’ll leave a comment with your views on either England or Flamini. I’ll look forward to reading them.

Thanks for reading, you beautiful bastards. I love each and every one of you.

Robin to stay? Ben Arfa rumours and England face the Italians.

"We beat Ukraine 1-0!!"

Morning, folks.

It’s quite an interesting morning today in the way of Arsenal news. First of all, we all want to hear some sort of update about the epic saga of Robin van Persie’s contract. The Dutch are out, so there really isn’t anything keeping Robin or the club from making an announcement. When asked about what hight happen, Arsene Wenger said this to the Italian newspaper La Repubblica:

“He will stay at Arsenal,”

“There is no reason why a top player, a big champion would want a move to Serie A – in terms of the prestige of the league, the level of play or financial considerations.

“If he moves there, I will buy you a caramello.”

Strange quotes. Whilst it’s very nice of Arsene to offer to buy an ice cream for the press if Robin does swan off to Juventus, I’m slightly wary of any quotes that show confidence in Robin’s decision. I remember the boss being ‘sure’ Anelka, Nasri and Fabregas would stay – to name but a few.

I love Robin to bits, and for once I’d like this summer to not finish in the same inevitable fashion. We’ve have a few bad ones over the past years, hopefully this summer will be a exciting one – keeping Robin to play with Podolski and Giroud would be a bloody good start.

Hatem Ben Arfa is the subject of reports in L’Equipe who allege Arsenal and Chelsea are in for him. His preferred choice is the Emirates as he sees limited opportunities at Chelsea. To sum this one up – bollocks. I can’t see any truth at all in it. He’s a handy little player, don’t get me wrong, but I’d be certain it won’t happen. Especially if Newcastle want £21m.

Lastly today, a few words about England.

The performance last night was hardly sparkling and wondrous, but it won the group. I commend Hodgson thus far. His choices have been both bold and intelligent, and have paid dividends. England have a good shape and will be very difficult to beat.

Many people are mentioning how good it is to have avoided Spain. I disagree. I wanted to play Spain. I don’t want the team to shy away from anyone. Spain are an excellent football team, but England shouldn’t fear them. They have areas of weakness. Italy have been overlooked in the frenzy of avoiding Spain. They will not be easy, in fact; in ways they’re a tougher proposition than Spain. England raise their game against superior opponents, and must not take anything for granted with Italy.

That’s all for today folks. I shall return tomorrow. Leave me your thoughts below in the comments. Will Robin stay? What about Ben Arfa? I look forward to reading a few of your opinions.