Arsenal Target Dzagoev Is Mustard And Other Things Learnt From Day Five

From poor first halves and Peter Cech's nervy goalkeeping to a possible goal of the tournament and a rising Russian star who may well be coming to The Arsenal, Day 5 of the European Championships proved to be fruitful viewing...
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From poor first halves and Peter Cech's nervy goalkeeping to a possible goal of the tournament and a rising Russian star who may well be coming to The Arsenal, Day 5 of the European Championships proved to be fruitful viewing...

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Arsenal Target Alan Dzagoev celebrates his goal against Poland

Greek Fans Shouldn’t Turn Up Until After Half Time

After the comedy of errors that was their first half display against Poland, although not helped by some ridiculous refereeing, you’d have though that the Greeks would have come out all guns blazing for this one. No such luck. Pedestrian and once again dreadful defensively they were two goals down inside of six minutes.

So far the competitions has shown us some calamitous goalkeeping and this no different with the Greek keeper Chalkias who certainly played a part in both of the goals. He mysteriously pulled up in the twenty third minute with some sort of phantom injury but everyone new he’d been subbed as a result of terminal embarrassment.

Once again though their second half display gave them hope and they could have salvaged a point from their dreadful start, literally playing a game of two halves and looking like a completely different team. Why they do this is beyond me and there’s no excuses to do with jitters or not having grasped the sense of occasion. The Greek players should be looking to lift their nations spirits given their woes and instead it takes a half time orange after a half under the kosh to get going, which is pretty unforgivable all things considered.

The Greeks now need a miracle win against the impressive Russians to qualify from the group a miracle that they probably have no right to pray for and a task that will require their attentions for a full ninety minutes as opposed to their half-arsed jobs.

Linesmen Will Never Give The Attacking Player The Benefit Of The Doubt

They may as well forget that the idea was ever fostered because linesmen will never get this fundamental and simple judgement call right. That is, if you’re not sure, just go with the attacking player. That’s it really in a nutshell. However, once again the tournament has been plagued with flag happy linesmen who get it wrong as often as they get it right and even then it’s so marginal it’s a debate waiting to happen – was there daylight? Does there need to be? Was his little toe playing him on?

It’s so marginal it’s a debate waiting to happen – was there daylight? Does there need to be? Was his little toe playing him on?

Greece came a cropper from this today when they scored a headed goal before half time that was so marginal there was no way it could conclusively have been ruled offside. It looked level on the slow motion replays and certainly if that’s the case it does make you wonder how a linesman can feel comfortable giving it.

Goals change games and while nobody wants to see the defensive co-ordination of a good offside trap penalised by bad calls, decisions such as these should only be wrong one way. For all Greece were awful in the first half they can feel rightly aggrieved about this decision. You’ve got to wonder how long it’s going to be before it costs a big team in a big game.

Peter Cech Still Hasn’t Got Over His Horrific Injury

When he made a right hash of an innocuous ball into the box in the second half, gifting Greece a goal, the pundits seemed to suggest it was because he had been a virtual spectator all game. Indeed, in the first half Greece hadn’t registered a single shot on goal apart from the disallowed header, but a player of Cech’s experience isn’t going to let his mind wander.

However one thing that will always be in the back of his mind – and the front of his skull – will be that awful challenge from rat-for-hire Stephen Hunt that remains the worst challenge that ever got just a booking. It looked very much on his mind when he flinched away from the legs of his own defender coming towards his face.

All things considered it’s understandable however there are going to be those moments where players are going to look to exploit any hesitation. Maybe the fellow international coaches won’t make anything of it but when he returns to Chelsea you can be sure the likes of Sam Allardyce and Tony Pulis will be instructing their players to get stuck into him.

Alan Dzagoev Is The Real Deal

Given the state of Russian football, one of the richest leagues in the world it seems, which I’m sure has nothing to do with laundering illegal money, you cant say a player in that league will be getting a “big money” move. That said there’s got to be plenty of clubs who will be looking to break the bank for Dzagoev in the Summer. He has looked the bill in every department.

At only 21 it’s hard to think of a more well rounded midfielder in that age bracket and while there were always question marks about just how good he was based solely on domestic form, his international performances tell no lies. Sublime passing, a good turn of pace, able to dribble, shooting from distance and a clinical eye for goal that sees him net one in three from midfield, he’s a genuine talent.

Oh, and it turns out he can head the ball too, scoring a glorious flick header to give his side a point against a determined Polish team and mean that Russia now just need a point against Greece to be guaranteed qualification. With three goals already he could realistically be a contender for golden boot, especially given that Russia look like a team that could upset the odds themselves. While the clubs are calling his agent you might want to get calling your bookies.

Jakub Blaszczykowski Probably Scored The Goal Of The Tournament

Poland have looked surprisingly good and seem only to lack the ability to put their chances away. Their fast paced and open playing style is a breath of fresh air and in both their games they’ve looked a very capable team indeed.

At the heart of it is their captain Jakub Blaszczykowski, currently bossing it in the Bundesliga with Borussia Dortmund, and when things were looking grim against the Russians he made a captain’s contribution.

However the man that will now be known as Jakub BLASTzczykowski hit a thunderous curling left footer that is as good as anything the big name stars are going to produce

Until today there hadn’t been a truly great goal scored in the tournament, one you’d remember or be happy to watch on one of those compilation DVDs you get at Christmas. However the man that will now be known as Jakub BLASTzczykowski hit a thunderous curling left footer that is as good as anything the big name stars are going to produce. More importantly than all that though it keeps Poland’s hopes of qualification alive and who’s to say that they won’t turn over the Czech Republic. On this display they ought to do just that.

There Will Be Trouble

Even if you were to ignore the documentary that exposed the racist problem amongst sections of Polish and Ukrainian fans, this was clearly a tournament that was going to see some fan trouble somewhere along the line. Not in a good while has there been this sort of tension and with a lot of fierce rivalries coming together it seems that what trouble there has been already is going to escalate.

I kind of got an inkling something was amiss when there were frequent announcements coming over the tannoy were along the lines of “remember that throwing missiles at the players isn’t sportsmanlike” after players were being peppered with what were jocularly referred to as “soft projectiles”. The reminders came in with increasing frequency reminding the attending fans that games will be cancelled if it continues. It’s not going to happen though is it? I mean, what do you think they’d do then?

For Russia and Poland a great game was marred by clashes between rival sets of fans, something that saw tear gas used and rubber bullets fired. 120 arrests were made and only minimal injuries reported however as the tournament progresses the games are only going to become more and more high-stakes. Sadly I don’t this will be the end of the need for police intervention at these championships.

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Plan A Worked For England But Hodgson Must Use Arsenal’s Walcott For Plan B

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