It was quite an interesting night last night. International football can usually be relied upon to present us with a stark reminder of how much better club football is. Of course, it should be noted that, on the rarest of occasions, it can provide some talking points and genuine excitement.
It was a mixed night for Arsenal’s contingent. On the plus side, Oliver Giroud netted a last-minute equaliser for France against Spain – earlier in the game Koscielny conceded a penalty that Fabregas promptly missed – or had saved, depending on your point of view (We’ll get to Cesc in a moment). I was really happy for our big French striker. Over the course of his very brief tenure as an arsenal player, he’s had to endure his fair share of stick. Most of it has been panic-stricken bleating because he isn’t Robin van Persie. He has struggled a little, but underneath the odd glaring miss you can see a great amount of potential. I maintain he will score goals for Arsenal.
In the same game, Santi Cazorla played for 75 minutes as a replacement for the injured David Silva.
Elsewhere, Per Mertesacker scored for Germany, and then contributed to a spectacular capitulation. Having put his side 3-0 up against Sweden, the BFG had to share the spoils in a fabulous game that ended 4-4. It’s worth mentioning that Germany were at one stage 4-0 up, and things somehow went wrong for them in the second half. Sounds eerily familiar, doesn’t it?
The main talking point of the night was England’s game in Poland – or lack thereof. In a state-of-the-art stadium that has a closable roof, the pitch was bafflingly allowed to become waterlogged. What followed was a prime example of FIFA and their bone-headed regulations. Initially the game was delayed pending a further inspection 45 minutes later. During that time, absolutely no effort was made to clear any water from the pitch, and the roof remained wide open. Even once the conditions worsened, the referee was still compelled to perform another pitch inspection. It was, quite frankly, utter mismanagement and bordered on the farcical – the whole sorry saga would have been at home sped up and accompanied by the theme to the Benny Hill Show.
Right, I mentioned Cesc, didn’t I.
He’s been speaking to the Spanish press about his move to Barcelona:
“It was a dream of mine to play for Barca, but I was not bitter at Arsenal”
On the contrary, I was living somewhere which, for me, was the most beautiful city in the world, I was in an incredible team with a superb coach and supporters I adored.
“It was not a question of life or death. If Barca had not come in for me, I would have played my whole career at Arsenal. That was certain.”
“Yes, there are teams who pay better. But it was always clear to me. Either go to Barca or stay at Arsenal. The last thing on my mind was money and I have come to Barca, and I earn less.”
I understand why some fans are aggrieved with him. The manner in which he left the club certainly wasn’t ideal, and there’s a case to be made for the above comments being nothing more than blowing kisses in the press. However, I’ve never felt any bitterness towards him. I love the guy and I probably always will. Unlike Robin, and especially Nasri and Adebayor, Cesc gave Arsenal an exceptional amount of good service. He may not be in the same ‘legendary’ bracket as Pires, Bergkamp, Adams or Henry, but he’s always someone I remember fondly for what he did in an Arsenal shirt – if nothing else, we all should love him for this and this.
That’s all for today, folks. I’m sure, like me, you’re happy to be turning your attention to Saturday’s game against Norwich and the return of the Arsenal. Aside from Theo, it would appear there are no further casualties of the international break, but we’ll know more nearer game time.
The comments are below. Let me know a few of your views on the games, and FIFA’s hapless handling of a heavy rainstorm.
I shall return tomorrow.