Good morning, and as the French say, â€˜April Fishâ€™.
Internationals have been and gone, and there seem to have been wall-to-wall matches since Thursday. Uefa changed this a few years ago, it transpires. Was it changed because:
a. We need to think about the fans more
b. To benefit the players
c. To maximise TV coverage and broadcast income
Clue: this is Uefa we are talking about.
Anyway, what do I care. I did watch England dismantle Lithuania. At the start of the game my â€˜Eyes on TV to iPhoneâ€™ ratio was about 90:10, but after about ten minutes it was about 10:90. Gave me a chance at least to organise the folders on my phone (â€˜Stuff 1 and Stuff 2 are all over the place) and reinstate my Bergerac ringtone. So allâ€™s well that ends well.
I watched England against Italy too, and quite enjoyed it. It made me feel a bit dirty, but it was nice to see Woy tweak and twang and turn a bit of a dogâ€™s ear of a first half into a second half more akin to a sowâ€™s purse. [How did your idiom training go? – Ed]
I thought Gibbsy did OK, though he did miss a Monreal in the second half, but Walcott was involved far too little. It seems very peculiar to me that heâ€™s been playing centrally so much when itâ€™s patently not where he is at his best. Against Monaco away, when we needed one more goal, he dolloped about in the middle when we could have done with him delivering the shizzle from out wide. He did the same against Italy, as well as playing at No 10, which is a bit like asking Berkgamp to fill in at right back.
Iâ€™ve been a big advocate for patience when it comes to Walcott, as he had a stinker of an injury, but heâ€™s very peripheral at the moment. On this kind of form, the question is less “Can we turn down Â£25m for him” and more “Who would pay Â£25m for him”, but form changes fast and Iâ€™m sure his will improve. Iâ€™d still keep him, of course I would, but I am worried about how heâ€™s played since his return, a few well-taken goals aside.
Incidentally, the answer to “Who would pay Â£25m for him” is still “many teams”. He was our top scorer two seasons ago.
Partly because he can be so much better than this, partly because itâ€™s not a big outlay for an established international and partly because heâ€™s English and so many teams have completely forgotten to buy or bring through English players.
Great to see four of our crocks back too – immaculate timing. As Arseblog says this morning, it will be interesting to see how we can fit them all in, Jack in particular. If Wenger has the nerve to genuinely rotate our midfield, then we might see a fair bit of him. He tends though to go with the same players when they are playing well – which is perfectly logical and reasonable – so Jack might have his work cut out unless we get an injury or two. What are the chances of that happening at Arsenal, I wonder?
Diaby, well let’s not hold our breath. Best case scenario is that he’s fit for a bit and can find himself a new club in the summer rather than having to retire. I suspect the options are that stark.
Saturday still seems some way off, but itâ€™s pivotal. Before then though, itâ€™s the Tony Colbert Magic Sponge Show.
Enjoy OK Wednesday. The starter gun has fired for Not Bad Thursday, then Good Friday. Iâ€™m hoping for Excellent Saturday, but if things go a bit sour we might need resurrecting ahead of the FA Cup semi-final.
Donâ€™t worry, Iâ€™ve already got my coat and fled.