22nd May 2016: Same old England + Stade Arsene Wenger

Evening all. I tuned into the England v Turkey game earlier on hoping the Three Lions would produce a performance similar to their encouraging win over Germany at the end of March. Instead, despite emerging victorious, Roy Hodgson’s men looked much more like the disjointed, dithering, defensively suspect national side that have disappointed for most of my living memory.

Put simply, Turkey have better natural footballers. They passed and moved like Spain in their pomp at times and our football by comparison was embarrassingly archaic. No discernible pattern of play, Harry Kane in grotesquely greedy mood, Jack Wilshere looking like a player who’s missed a whole season through injury and Jamie Vardy’s performance suggesting those taking his Premier League feats the season just past as proof he’s world class, may just be horribly misguided.

He’s a very effective Premier League striker but so was Darren Bent. Against Europe’s finest in international football, you’ll have to forgive me if I reserve judgement of Vardy’s quality, because despite scoring the winner against Turkey, his limitations with the ball at his feet were all too apparent. Thankfully he’s very quick, and that undoubtedly, along with his usually explosive finishing, makes him a threat to any defence – just not from a wide left starting block perhaps.

And a little like Arsenal have been at times in recent seasons, England looked like a team not sure if they want to be a possession-hogging side, or a contain and counter outfit. I just hope we realise we simply don’t have the players to be the former and adopt a Leicester-esque game-plan at the Euros in France – cede the ball, defend doggedly in a compact shape and break with pace and conviction when the opportunity presents itself.

If we do that I think we could do well and go far. If not, my money’s on an all-too-familiar exit. Obviously I hope I’m wrong but watching England chasing shadows as the opposition nimbly knock it around with effortless ease is just as depressing as it’s always been.

Moving on and with midfielder Granit Xhaka all but signed, sealed and delivered, Arsenal have reportedly turned their attention to the defence, with reports today suggesting we are interested in signing Bayern Munich’s Medhi Benatia.

I’ll be honest, I haven’t paid much attention to the Moroccan’s performance on the few occasions I’ve seen him play but what I would say is that if Pep Guardiola rated him enough to bring him to Bavaria, he must be a very decent player.

At 29 years of age though, he’s a little old for an Arsene Wenger signing, so I guess it’s either a tenuous link, or the manager’s looking to make the most of what could be his final season as manager by changing tack and considering shorter term solutions.

Finally for this evening, Arsene has had a stadium named after him a few miles away from his birthplace in Duttlenheim. Some would suggest Emirates stadium ought to be named in his honour given the role he played in it’s building and as far as I’m concerned, they’d be right. For now though, he’ll have to make do with this instead.

See you next week.

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