First on my agenda this morning, I must say a big thank you to everyone who has been on the site recently. We’ll be breaking hit records for the website this month and the amount of people who linked to yesterday’s article using Facebook and Twitter yesterday was incredible. I take a lot of pride in my writing, so it means the World to me when lots of people are coming to Jumpers For Goalposts to read the latest article.
Anyway, I must not digress, as once again, I’ve left myself limited time in which to write this. I’ll never learn…
Arsenal sign Olivier Giroud
According to Sky sources and the population of Twitter, Arsenal have signed Montpellier striker and joint-top Ligue 1 goal scorer, Olivier Giroud, for what is believed to be around the £12 million mark, which triggered the clause in Giroud’s contract allowing him to leave Montpellier.
Giroud’s arrival will mean Arsenal have signed two forwards already this summer, with German international, Lukas Podolski having already signed for a similar fee to Giroud (£12 million is the rumoured fee).
Signing top players, it has been thought, is the way in which Arsenal can prove to Robin Van Persie that the Gunners will be fighting for major trophies, and with £24 million in investments already tied up, Van Persie must surely believe that Arsenal are serious in their pledge to win trophies. It has been pretty much confirmed that Van Persie genuinely loves Arsenal and his family are very happy in London, but a player of Van Persie’s ability needs to be winning trophies. Arsenal’s investment in top forwards just nineteen days into the transfer window must be recognised as ambition by Van Persie, which would hopefully be enough to make him stay at the Emirates Stadium.
Olivier Giroud is not a replacement for Van Persie. Leaving Arsenal this summer, will be Nicklas Bendtner, Marouane Chamakh, and possibly Park Chu-Young. Oh, don’t forget Carlos Vela. Giroud is a Bendtner replacement and with Podolski also able to play as a main striker, as well as a winger, it means Arsenal will have top quality options, with Benik Afobe hoping to step up and Joel Campbell returning from a season-long loan spell with French side, Lorient.
Last season, beyond Van Persie, Arsenal struggled for a consistent outlet of goals. It is great news for Arsenal fans that Podolski and Giroud have joined, hopefully able to provide Arsenal the ammunition they have so desperately craved over the past months.
Theo Walcott declared fit to face Ukraine tonight
In fantastic news for England, the hero of the match versus Sweden, Theo Walcott, will be fit to face Ukraine tonight after fears he had aggravated a hamstring injury that Walcott picked up in the latter stages of last season for Arsenal.
Normally, it would be Walcott’s luck to pick up form, only to suffer an injury. That has been a consistent theme for Walcott throughout his Arsenal career, much to the frustration of everyone, Walcott in particular. Personally, I’ve always rated Walcott as a great player and last season, even the season before that, Walcott has added the ability to improve his decision making in the final third, which has helped contribute towards a tally for seventeen goals and fifteen assists stretched over two seasons, which is a fantastic return for a 23 year old winger. It’s hard to believe that only two season ago, Walcott was 21, such is the length of time Walcott has been on the scene already.
There is much more to come from Walcott throughout his career and I hope he gets the chance to start ahead of the disappointing James Milner tonight. Walcott pushes full-backs into retreat and his mere pace can alter a team’s entire system. If England are to go far in Euro 2012, Roy Hodgson needs players like Walcott available, and his availability for tonight in the final group match versus Ukraine is massive for Hodgson.
England team news
With Walcott declared as fit, I expect James Milner to drop to the bench, Walcott to replace him and Ashley Young to start on the left for England, as we take the shape of 4-4-2 once more. Just behind Andy Carroll as a main striker, I believe Wayne Rooney will start as a typical ‘number ten’ forward, playing just behind Carroll.
Some aren’t happy that Rooney may start tonight against Ukraine and I fully understand why they hold that view as Rooney hasn’t featured so far. The thing is, Rooney hasn’t been ruled out due to injury, is as fit as a fiddle and may well have been incredible in training. Selection for the first team is based on how well a players performs in training. If Rooney has been playing better than Welbeck has in training, isn’t it the right option to choose Rooney?
In midfield, I think it will be Gerrard and Parker once again. Due to injury to other players, Hodgson doesn’t have a wide enough scope to play anyone other than Jordan Henderson without it being a gamble. We have little margin of error to work with against Ukraine tonight. If we look comfortable with a 2-0 lead to defend, by all means rest a few players, but don’t start with Henderson or Phil Jones in midfield.
Finally, in defence, we’ll line up as we normally do. Apart from an inability to defend simple set pieces in the last match versus Sweden, our defence looked comfortable. England have had all week to be drilled on set pieces and having watched Gary Neville all of last season doing the analysis for Sky Sports, I’m very happy that the England defence will have been hammered by Neville.
That’s me done for today.
COME ON ENGLAND!!!!