Lehmann the hero as Germany go through

Arsenal goalkeeper Jens Lehmann was the hero as he showed once more what he can do in penalties, guiding Germany to a quarter-final victory over Argentina. The score was tied 1-1 after extra time and a penatly shootout loomed ever closer. But the pressure seemed not to be getting to Jens who saved 2 Argentine penalties whilst Germany converted all of thiers. The result means Germany go through to the semi-finals and Argentina, one of the favourties, are going home.

Looks like this will keep Oliver Kahn quiet about who should be Germany's No.1...

The rumour mill trundles along again today, with renewed speculation of French midfielder, Franck Ribery. The Sun is reporting Arsenè Wenger has met with Ribery's agent Bruno Hedarschein at the World Cup, who admitted a move to England could be likely:

“Franck’s preference is Lyon — but we know Marseille are not keen to sell to another French club.”

However as stated there, Lyon has always been the most realistic option and probably will remain so. Manchester United are also in the hunt for the player and I dread to think what the combined image of Franck Ribery and Gary Neville together would look like. For all the class he's got Ribery will never be the most 'aesthetically pleasing' player.

There has also been renewed speculation about the future of Yaya Toure, who recently came out and said he wants to leave Olympiakos and Greece altogether.

He said on Greece's 'Sportime Radio'

"I feel sorry to have to tell the fans and the president on the radio that I want to leave Olympiakos, my decision is not to play football with Olympiakos any more."

"The people responsible for this decision are those around the president. They did not treat me as a professional."

It's also rumoured he wants to leave for 'family reasons', coincidently we happen to have his brother Kolo on our books at Arsenal. With Arsenal reportedly having a bid turned down in the last transfer window a move could be likely.

And finally the hottest story of the presses today is the future of Sol Campbell. With rumours that only formalities standing in the way of Sol and a move to Portsmouth. Harry Redknapp has made no secret of his attempts to sign Campbell so this seems to be more than just a wild rumour.

Redknapp said previously:

"I like Sol. He would be a leader and would give the club a push forward. He's a player with stature and a terrific understanding of the game. He would be an ideal player."

And with Arsenal legend, Tony Adams now in place at Fratton Park, and a rumoured £50,000 a week salary waiting for him, Campbell could very well be on his way.

A review of the Arsenal and footie stories this Thursday: Thierry Henry has been widely criticised for diving against Spain.

While he was fouled, he should not have held his face as if in complete agony. However, I think the "cheating" jibe is undeserved as France would have got a free kick regardless(though a soft foul, this would generally be given). Therefore, the outcome of the game would not have changed as result of Thierry holding his face; he tried to get Puyol sent off but the latter did NOT get a red card. See article by Redsquare below, the Gerrard analogy is a good one but as we all know only foreign players dive. Ruud Gullit was deeply shocked by it all, though I cannot remember him being quite as offended after the Portugal-Holland game.

Spurs look set to sign the Ivorian Didier Zokora for an alleged 8.5m. A strong tough tackling midfielder, Zokora is definitely the type of player we need for next season. I hope we are actively seeking for reinforecements as the squad looks a bit thin in the middle of the park. A centre back and a good reserve goal keeper (we all saw how the inept Almunia was called into action in the biggest game of Arsenal's history) should aslo be a priority. (see comment here)

In other news, I am quite mystified as to how Pascal Cygan has not yet been released by Arsenal. Signed in 2002, his contract should be up this summer. I would be appalled if the 32 year old hapless centre half is kept at Arsenal instead of Campbell. Sol Campbell is 31 and had a poor season but Cygan had 4 of those. (see earlier article)

World Cup Focus: Henry is no cheat.

I woke up this morning to find that the press and media are still raving on about Thierry Henry's "dive" in the game against Spain. One headline particularly grabbing my attention; "Thierry Henry: Fallen Hero". As if this minute incident will tarnish his career and lead to a global uprising.

The simple fact is Thierry did not dive. He overreacted, there was a challenge by Puyol that would in most circumstances warrant a foul. Thierry obviously felt to exact some revenge on Puyol spilling over from the Champions League final, where Puyol hacked and hacked and Thierry all night and received no booking. I admit though I was disappointed to see him do this and it came as quite a shock to me, and I think that’s where most the furore is coming from as it is such a shock to everyone to see Thierry Henry acting like every other professional footballer on the planet.

It now has been accepted, rather grudgingly, as part of the game. When we see Brazil, the bastions of modern football throwing themselves onto the ground or writhing in agony when a ball is kicked at their legs (ala Rivaldo in 2002), it just sums the situation up.

We also have to look at the hypocritical bias of the media in circumstances such as this. When England's brave boys go out on the pitch and give their best impression of an Olympic diving team, it is mostly ignored. And this can be for if there was even no challenge at all. Steven Gerrard thrust himself onto the ground to win England a penalty against Hungary earlier this year, replays showed there was absolutely zero contact, not even minimal, none, nada, zilch. So did we see the same media outcry for one of England's star players as we do for Johnny Foreigner? Of course not, instead he's actually congratulated for it. Ian Wright famously said of the incident.

"Other teams will do it against us, so why don't we? It will happen to us again, so we should,"

And this was for a potentially match changing scenario, a penalty. The good news was it was Frank Lampard who took the kick, and with no chance of a lucky deflection, he dutifully missed. What's worse is that this was also a Friendly match. Where a player is more than happy to dirty his reputation for no actual gain.

We see diving on a weekly basis in the Premiership, notably from its 'champions', Chelsea. Didier Drogba hit the headlines last season for admitting he does dive and he isn't going to stop doing so. And this has what the game has come to; we all know it and we expect it. Yet when Thierry Henry overreacts in one incident he is suddenly the devil incarnate. I think it's ridiculous is this story continues to run and stick to Henry, because frankly he doesn't deserve it.

Tony Adams gets Portsmouth Job

As expected, former Arsenal captain Tony Adams has officially been appointed as assistant manager at Portsmouth. Adams, who replaces Kevin Bond, had previously praised Redknapp for showing an intrest in him.

"Harry's a guy I respect and one I'd love to work with, He obviously thinks a lot of me to approach me and I've got a lot of admiration for him. The respect I've got for him is second to none, he's a great man.

"I love the character he is. He seems really honest and that's all I've ever wanted, to work for people who are like that."

Henry: I'm am not a woman.

Thierry Henry has hit back at claims that he cheated to win a free kick for France, ultimately resulting in the winning goal, in France's 3-1 win over Spain last night.

The incident in question involves a coming together of Carlos Puyol and Henry, in which Puyol did make contact with Henry but their seemed to be some exaggeration as Henry clutched his face.

Henry, who once described Puyol and his Barcelona side as "women" for diving during the champions league final said he did not dive.

"Spain's left-back Mariano Perina was going to win the ball so I don't know why Puyol cut across me, but he did. I don't cheat."

"I think we have got a lot of stick, but we have shown that we are a team."

Henry is now enjoying the benefits of a late resurgence in the French team spirit, and is looking to go all the way.

"Now, no matter what happens - you never know what can happen later on during the competition - we showed to our fans and to our people back in France that we are a team."

World Cup: Cesc is coming home.

In the battle between fellow Gunners, Cesc Fabregas and Thierry Henry, it was Thierry's French side that triumphed on the night, beating Spain 3-1.

Spain's opening goal came midway through the first half with a soft penalty being awarded, David Villa took the spot kick comfortably. Spain played well throughout the match and deserved their lead, Cesc showed why he had earned his place in the starting 11 usually being involved in most of Spain's chances.

Not to take anything away from France, however. The French certainly showed that they had stepped up thier game since the opening borefest against Switzerland. Franck Ribery finally stepping up to his true potential to take an excellent finish of a superb ball from Patrick Vieira, who was showing glimpses of his true talent, and this culminated in him grabbing the winner in the 83rd minute. Vieira scored a powerful header that was deflected in to win the game for France. Thierry looked solid up front but had few real chances, but what can you do with poor delivery. I was dissapointed to see him go down clutching his face at one point after being elbowed in the chest, obviously the bad blood with Puyol has not subsided since that night in Paris. Zidane showed his carear isn't over just yet as he walked through the Spainish defence to knock in the goal that sealed the win.

In all, a great game that was not bogged down in midfield as I had feard. The French are certainly looking a much better team now and are undergoing a renaisance, Vieira is a prime example of this. I wouldn't write them off against Brazil just yet. It's a shame to see Spain's world cup end so quickly as they looked very impressive so far and Cesc seemed to be gaining some valuable experience.

I was also reminded of why I detest ITV commentary, with every other black player on the French team often being refered to as "Vieira"...Idiots...

Rumour Mill: Lots to get through today.

Theres been a lot of speculation over the last 24 hours about players both coming and going from Arsenal.

Firstly, Dirk Kuyt has become the latest in a long line of strikers rumoured to be coming to North London. The speculation began with Arsené Wenger admitting he had been keeping tabs on the player.

"I went over to Feyenoord to check on him and he is a very generous player who works for the team."

Kuyt has been hinting for a while he would like a move to England but is keeping his cards close to his chest.

"At the end of the World Cup I will speak with my agent to find out what the possibilities are. There are certainly a few clubs I like who all play at the top of the league, so we will see what happens."

There is also increased speculation over the future of Gianluigi Buffon. Buffon is preparing himself for a move out of Turin after the future of Juventus hangs in the balance. Buffon's agent Silvano Martina said Arsenal are one of many clubs interested but a deal could just happen.

"The negotiation exists, but it isn't easy, London is a pleasing option, but Gigi would like to stay in Italy. Despite this, Arsenal remains a welcome solution."

In other news Arsenal defenders Ashley Cole and Pascal Cygan are linked with exits from the club again. Cygan, who already has been linked with St.Etienne has now reportedly sparked the interest of Rennes, who have been asking to be kept informed of the player's future.

Cole has been linked with a move to Madrid again, with Real presidential candidate Lorenzo Sanz, claiming he's practically signed four players already, one being English.

"Those four players are, not to give many clues, two from Inter, another one is Portuguese and the fourth is English."

There is no direct reference to Ashley Cole, but if it were to be anyone from Arsenal I would suspect him.

World Cup Focus: England are West Ham

Looking at yesterday’s poor performance from England it suddenly dawned on me that this England side can count themselves very lucky to make it through to this stage. This just reminded me of a successful FA cup run by a team no-one expects to win, the most recent example being West Ham.

To me England's success in this competition so far is not to different from the Hammers, both teams are on similar parallels. England have been incredibly fortunate in the selection of their opponents; Trinidad & Tobago, Paraguay, Ecuador. All teams that we wouldn't classify as "good" sides, despite doing well to even reach this stage. In fact when England faced some serious opposition, Sweden, the defence was exposed for the shambles it is and England almost lost to a very poor Swedish side.

England's luck will even stretch to the Quarter-Finals. Portugal will have two players suspended and 5 on yellow cards. I can't help wondering that the booked players may be less aggressive with the threat of suspension looming.

Nevertheless if England can overturn Portugal, which I doubt, it will be an achievement and the critics will have egg on their face. England will then face tough opposition in a very strong Spanish side or a resilient Brazil side. Can you seriously expect the hoof n' hope attitude of play being displayed by England now to get through either side?

I personally don't, but then again who expected to see West Ham in the FA final? But more importantly who expected West Ham to win? Obviously they didn't and I don’t expect England to either, if England do somehow scrape through to the final with the luck of the gods can anyone honestly expect them to win?

Surely the luck must run out...surely.

Pictures of Arsenal's kit released.

The lovely people at Gunnerblog today released leaked pictures of what appears to be Arsenal's new kit for the next two seasons.

The kit is seemingly that of what Arsenal.com blurred in a teaser photo recently and is also similar to photos leaked onto the internet in recent months.

It's unsure wether these are official or nor but it certainly seems as if this is what we will be wearing for the next season. Note that I've mocked up what the shirt numbers could look like for the kit, as no pictures showing this have been released.

Click image for full-size.

Arsenal linked with Trabelsi.

The Sunday Mirror is today reporting that Arsenal are leading the chase for out of contract, Tunisian right back, Hatem Trabelsi.

Trabelsi is now available on a free transfer with his contract at Ajax at an end. Franklin Sedoc, Trabelsi's agent, said last night: "There's a contract ready for him at Arsenal. I can show you that."

"I get calls from English clubs every day. Manchester City and West Ham have been in contact. Hatem definitely wants to play in the Champions League and he's not going to stay in Holland."

To me this sounds like an attempt to create intrest in the player. We already have both Eboué and Lauren at right back, so why sign someone who is 29?

Senderos is out of the World Cup.

Philippe Senderos, will miss the rest of the World Cup after dislocating his shoulder and suffering ligament damage, whilst playing against South Korea in Switzerland's 2-0 victory on Friday.

Senderos scored the first goal for the Swiss off a powerful header, cutting his face open in the process.

Team doctor Rudolf Roeder said.

"He will be out for a minimum of two weeks. There is a 50 percent chance he will require an operation but the most important thing is rest for now,"

The good news is at least the Swiss will have excellent cover in fellow Gunner John Djourou who is most likely to replace Senderos.

Round-Up: Adebayor is not a 7m striker...Newsnight shows its agenda

The France vs Togo showed one cruel fact: Adebayor is certainly not worth the 7m that Arsenal payed for him in January.

Whilst he has got qualities such as he is a strong athlete, he is an unpolished diamond, one that Arsene Wenger will need to do a lot of work on. He has been brought in to give aerial strength up front but he is more of a poor man´s Drogba.

Arsenal were competing with West Ham (that says something in itself) for the player and it looks like the Hammers got a better all round player in Dean Ashton for the same price. While I hope he improves, the initial impression is far from a positive one. He can chase lost causes but seems also to have a bit of an attitude and I certainly pray that he is not ahead of Van Persie in the pecking order next season.

The other news today is that Arsenal have been officially cleared of any wrong doing by the FA. Newsnight have been swift to provide a statement , insisting that they were right about their "findings" and that the FA has been looking in the "wrong" place. Arsenal need to vehemently lobby the BBC to force Newsnight to apologise- there is clearly malice intended there (see earlier articles here and here) I thought they got what they wanted in Dein´s expulsion from the FA board, what is the next item on the hidden agenda now?

World Cup: Gunners trio score to qualify.

Thierry Henry, Philippe Senderos and former Gunner Patrick Vieira all scored tonight to send both France and Switzerland through to the last 16.

Senderos scored Switzerland's first goal with a powerful header, injuring himself in the process. Senderos was eventually substituted in the 53rd minute and replaced by another Gunner in Johan Djourou. Switzerland won the game 2-0 with Frei scoring the second to ensure Switzerland top the group.

In the other game, Patrick Vieira interrupted Franck Ribery's awful finishing to score France's first goal. Vieira was also at hand to assist Thierry Henry who turned in France's second of the night and capped off a long overdue victory for les bleus.

Of course tonight also saw Adebayor exiting the competition which is a shame. He has looked excellent in the tournament so far and is looking sharp for the new season at Arsenal.

Tonight is also Patrick Vieira's 30th birthday, so happy birthday Paddy

Rumour Mill: Arsenal linked with Klose.

Arsenal have been linked with a shock move for Werder Bremen forward Miroslav Klose in a rumored £15 million pound move. But is this merely speculation?

Klose is currently the top scorer for Germany in the World Cup and any deal would certainly happen after the competition, and by that time the player's value could have sky rocketed.

Jens Lehman however would like to see Klose join him at North London.

“He could play a fantastic role for Arsenal. He is excellent in the air and a great finisher.

“We use our wingers a lot more than other teams so it would be fantastic to have the classic goalscoring centre-forward to get on the end of them, even though I loathe to comment on rumours.”

Arsenal paying £15 million + for a player who’s 28? I’ll believe it when I see it but for now this seems to be mostly a rumour with little true merit.

World Cup: Rosicky & Co. Out.

New Arsenal signing Tomas Rosicky played well but was on the losing side of a Czech Republic side that lost 2-0 today, meaning Italy and Ghana qualify for the next round.

Tomas was one of the few players in the Czech side to come out of their World Cup campaign. The Czechs unfortunatly suffered injuries to both Koller & Baros, thier top strikers.

On the bright side, he'll certainly be rested enough for his Arsenal debut...

Arsenal are reportedly chasing Argentine striker, Javier Saviola who is currently playing for Sevilla. It also seems a move for young frenchman Franck Ribery may be ruled out.

According to the Daily Mirror today Saviola's agent has been claiming interest from Arsenal. Whether or not this is another attempt to try and spark a bidding war is unknown, as there has been no response from Arsenal over the player. Saviola's agent claims that:

"There is interest from Arsenal and other clubs in Portugal and Spain. He wants to stay in Spain, but we shall see. We prefer to wait until after the World Cup before we talk."

In other news, the Guardian is claiming Franck Ribery has turned down offers from both Arsenal and Manchetser United. A move had been expected to take the player to French champions Lyon and that looks like the most realistic transfer.

Arsenal Premiership Fixtures 2006/07

Today's draft Premiership fixtures for the 2006/07 campaign have been announced. The full list can be seen here.


Sven: Why worry? We've got Walcott.

Sven Goran Eriksson has insisted he is not worrying about Michael Owen’s injury as he has suitable cover in Theo Walcott despite not having played the youngster yet.

Owen looks set to be out for the remainder of the competition but Sven isn’t panicking.

"We can easily handle the situation because we haven't seen Theo Walcott. As well as Walcott, we have the players in the squad who can play second striker such as Joe Cole and Steven Gerrard and Aaron Lennon can do it too.”

However Sven has yet to even give Theo a run-out which raises the question of why did he bring him if he refuses to play him?

Arsenal's New Home Kit Revealed...sort of.

Described as 'retro' in style Arsenal prepare to unviel thier new kit for the 2006/07 campaign by releasing a 'teaser' photo.

The kit appears to be similar to pictures that have been circulating the net. I expect there will therefore be gold trim down the sides as you can make out in the picture.

I can't wait to get back into the red and white...

RonaldinWHO?: A poor performance from Brazil.

Brazil put in a sub-par performance again, but still walk out the victors. Is this championship form or just good luck?

Brazil put out a full first team today against an inexperienced, yet dynamic Australian side. Ronaldo had kept his place after a dismal performance against Croatia and was looking to prove himself. The first half was relatively a snore-fest, featuring little real attack from the Aussies and a tight back four from both sides.

The second half is where the match really begun, Ronaldo fed the ball to Adriano in the 47th minute to slot home a rather mild shot to give the Brazilians the lead. Australia looked like they had forgotten to come back out after half-time but the goal proved to be a loud wake up call.

Brazil were on the back foot from this moment on, Australia pushing forward and having chance after chance to equalize the game yet failing to do so. A poor performance from Harry Kewell summed up the game, an empty net from a mishap by Dida left Kewell with only to lob the ball in and he skied it over the bar.

Brazil as usual, hit Australia on the counter attack but had no real cutting edge. Ronaldo hasn't improved since the opening game and Ronaldinho looked like a different player to the one who terrorised Arsenal in Paris. He lacked fluidity, pace, initiative and most importantly effort.

The 2-0 score flattered Brazil and parallels can be drawn with England's performance against Trinidad & Tobago, but perhaps for both these teams playing serious opposition could get them back on form. Brazil looked at times arrogant and apathetic, and I think Australia may have just paid them too much respect.

I wouldn't be shocked to see Brazil miss out on the World Cup this year, with a glorious Argentina side dominating the competition thus far, but equally if I know Brazil I wouldn't write them off too early. This is a team that’s one the competition a record five times and has yet to concede a goal this year. There's still a long way to go and Brazil are defiantly up for it.

The first thing that Arsene Wenger did when he arrived at Arsenal was to change the long ball strategy of the George Graham years.

In his first game in charge against Coventry in 1996, a striking moment was how Nigel Winterburn refused to bow to his natural instinct and instead looked up to pass the ball on the floor after one intervention.

In many ways Arsene Wenger revolutionised the Premiership. With the input of more foreign coaches at top clubs, top level football in England is more on the floor rather than the long ball strategy favoured by the Boltons or the Blackburns. Whatever you say about Chelsea, their football can be very quick and scintillating at times though few match the fluidity of Arsenal´s game.

However 10 years on, England at the World Cup show a worrying trend of a long ball strategy that is the dullest played by any top international team.In fact, most teams-if not all- at this World Cup want to pass it on the floor to score, create movement and interchanges.

England does not do that. The strategy against minnows Trinidad & Tobago for 70 minutes was to cross the ball towards Crouch´s direction, bypassing the whole midfield at times.

George Graham was far more methodical than this. It was based on the strong back four but a less creative midfield. It was at times a necessity against the superior teams but also very tactically astute. When Graham had a superior midfield, Arsenal ran away with the title in 1991.

England played much better at the World Cup in 1998 under Glen Hoddle, where they were unlucky against Argentina in a pulsating game. The football played under Terry Venables in 1996 was exciting as was that in World Cup 1990.

Sven Goran Eriksson seems keen on dulling the opponents -no matter how weak they are- and frankly killing the spectacle as opposed to the masterful football we have seen from other countries so far .England could well go on and win the World Cup but you have a feeling that teams like Argentina, Brazil, Holland, Spain, Ivory Coast or Germany would rather go out than playing this way.

Wenger to Madrid: When will the madness end!?

It seems Real Madrid just don't know that 'No' means 'No', after it was revealed today that yet again, they are after the services of Arsenè Wenger.

A presidential candidate for Real Madrid, Juan Miguel Villar Mir, today told the News of the World:

"We have opened negotiations with two excellent mangers, Wenger and Capello."
We all know this is just another empty promise to fill the vacant role of president at Madrid after several other candidates also promised they would get Wenger.

A game of football almost broke out tonight...

Tonight's game featuring the USA and Italy looked fine on paper, but turned out to be the most explosive match of the competition so far. With three red cards, two disallowed goals and a bit of blood, tonight's game won't be easily forgotten.

The match got off to a quick start with Italy taking the lead deservedly in the 22nd minute, only to concede an astonishing own goal five minutes later. This is where the game went a bit mad... Seconds after the restart De Rossi was sent off for an elbow any Bolton fan would have been proud of. Blood was pouring down the face of American forward, McBride. As the game neared the interval Mastroeni was sent off with a straight red card for a two footed tackle. Italy substitution, Gattuso came on and scored with his first touch only to be disallowed for offside.

After a few skirmishes the game managed to stumble along through to half time, only to pick up where it left off with Eddie Pope being sent off for a second yellow card. The American's had thrown away a great opportunity to put Italy on the back foot, throwing away any chance they had to nick a win. Saying that Damarcus Beasley had a goal disallowed later on.

And at the end of the match I felt actually a little guilty, because I actually found the match entertaining, it had some excellent drama and tension with Italy being denied chance after chance. I was egging on America as I wanted them to nick a win to try and help the Czechs go through.

Although one thing did irritate me, the commentary of the game. ITV is not best remembered for it's sports coverage and to hear the words "EQUALIZER!" as Beasley's shot temporally put USA 2-1 up, was just the tip of the iceberg...Idiots...

Fabregas Pledges Future to Arsenal

Cesc Fabregas has insisted he will remain at Arsenal despite rumours of attention from several top clubs, notably Barcelona and Real Madrid.

Fabregas made history in Spain's 4-0 win over the Ukraine by becoming the youngest Spanish international ever and has gained attention in recent months with impressive performances for Arsenal. Several sources in the Spanish press even described him as "Objetivo Primario" for Madrid.

But Fabregas, who was poached from Barcelona by Arsenal, insists his future is in North London.

“I’m not thinking about leaving Arsenal. I’m an Arsenal player, I have another five years on my contract...I’m very happy and I don’t have any other thoughts. I am not thinking of moving. Nobody has contacted me and Arsenal are the only team that believes in me.”

Van Persie ends World Cup Dream for Toure & Co.

A stunning free-kick and a goal line clearance by Arsenal's robin Van Persie, played a part in Holland's 2-1 victory over the Ivory Coast, knocking Arsenal players Emmanuel Eboué and Kolo Toure out of the competition.

The Ivory coast were already on the back foot, with a disappointing loss to Argentina in their opening fixture, needing at least a draw to stay within reach of qualification. But it wasn't to be. Robin Van Persie gave Holland the lead in the 23rd minute with an absolutely beautiful free kick, with van Nistelrooy doubling the Dutch advantage 3 minutes later. Ivory Coast did manage a goal in the 38th minute from Kone, but it proved to be little more than a consolidation.

I hope we see more of Ivory Coast in 4 years time they are a team I wanted to see do well in this competition and were unlucky to be drawn into such a tough group, if they were playing England now I would put it past them to walk the game.

Freddie's Ready for England Showdown.

Arsenal and Sweden midfielder Freddie Ljungberg scored in the dieing moments last night to set up a decisive match with England.

Ljungberg scored Sweden's first goal of the competition in the 88th minute to end Paraguay's chances of qualification. Sweden now only need a draw to qualify for the next round, and with England's stumbling form this looks likely, but Ljungberg was not jumping to conclusions.

"It's going to be a massive game against England because we both want to win the group. It will be difficult because they are a good team but it should be a great game. I think we played well tonight, certainly better than we did against Trinidad and Tobago, but unfortunately we had the same problems that we couldn't score,"

"We were getting worried but hopefully now we have finally scored the goals will come. It was not just my goal that won the game, it was a team effort. Of course you get a little worried when you create that many chances and the ball doesn't want to go in. It was absolutely the best match I have ever experienced. The fans are never this crazy when we play at home. All the Swedes were screaming like mad."

It looks set to be a crucial game, qualification is on the line for Sweden and England don't want to come second in the group as that would most likely end up in a knockout match against Germany in the last 16. But remember England have not beaten Sweden for 38 years.

World Cup Focus: England are in trouble.

After watching the display against Trinidad & Tobago as well as the lucky escape against Paraguay, it seems there is no way England can expect to reach the quarter-finals let alone win the competition.

The 2-0 result was flattering to England's overall performance. They lacked initiative and creative ideas, resorting to Chelsea style play of hoofing the ball into the box and hoping for the best. This is all well and good if you got a solid defence to combat the resulting counter-attack, Trinidad & Tobago looked menacing on this and England were lucky there was no real clinical finishing.

Ashley Cole, the only Arsenal representative in the game, was made to look redundant as the counter attack often brushed passed him easily, with midfielders like Gerrard often having to come back and help him out.

Peter Crouch despite having scored the decisive goal, was absolutely dreadful. He missed chance after chance and you could hear the crowd starting to turn. At one point he even tried to head the ball back in to his own box from a opposition cross that was going out.

Then there's the Walcott factor, Sven said it was a gamble bringing him, but what's the point if you aren't even going to feature him? When England needed pace he brought on Lennon but could have also brought on Walcott to get on the left side and actually get on the end of a Lennon ball.

England will make it into the last 16 now where they will face a tough task against, Ecuador or Germany, both teams that can punish them on the break. Germany have tightened up their defensive worries as we saw against Costa Rica but England look to be on the decline in all areas.

Henry blasts the media.

Thierry Henry has verbally attacked the media for thier treatment of French winger Franck Ribery, despite Henry's criticism of the player himself.

Henry was referring to all the hype built up by the media of Ribery and the campaign by the French press to get him in the squad. But the player was used as a scapegoat for France's poor performance in the 0-0 draw with Switzerland, with poor performances from ageing stars Vieira and Zidane being overlooked.

"You, the media, wanted him to be in the starting XI, now he is in the team, you want him to go back to being a substitute?

"You can't put everything on his shoulders, it is never that easy to achieve a good match in the national team, especially for the first time."

Henry was kept quiet in the game with little chances but is looking forward to a better game against Korea. Henry was quick not to jump to conclusions however.

"Against Korea, we will have to play because the Koreans play, they are very technical, the ball moves with one or two touches. They have shown what they are capable of at the last World Cup.

"I don't know what will happen against them, it is always more pleasant to play against a team that leaves the defensive basis than (it was) against Switzerland.

"But we will have to take care, they attack and defend all together."

Redknapp criticizes Walcott

Manager of Premiership strugglers Portsmouth, Harry Redknapp, has come out and launched an attack on Arsenal teenager Theo Walcott, telling the youngster "You're not good enough."

Redknapp gave Walcott his debut at 16 when playing for Southampton but has today criticized Sven for taking the player.

"Eriksson has made a fundamental error by selecting Walcott," said Portsmouth manager Redknapp, from what I hear even the Arsenal players are not sure how good Walcott is."
Walcott has yet to play a full 90 minutes for club or country but that doesn't seem to phase Redknapp, who never played for his country.
"I certainly think he's not up to it. At Saints I watched him in FA Youth Cup ties against Ipswich and Wolves and each time he drifted to the flanks he was marked out of the game, He could not impose himself even at that level. Through the middle he had pace, he was a much better player, but he drifts in and out."

"I think Eriksson has taken a massive gamble in selecting only four strikers and, because he's not good enough, Walcott won't figure at all."
We should be able to judge Walcott in a slightly fairer light today as he is expected to feature in England's game against Trinidad & Tobago.

Henry hits out at team-mate Ribery.

Arsenal striker Thierry Henry has hit out at team-mate Franck Ribery by blaming him for missing a golden opportunity to win the game in France's 0-0 stalemate with Switzerland.

The chance in question involved Ribery going past Gunner Philippe Senderos down the right of the Swiss box before deciding not to take a shot but pass an inaccuarte ball behind Henry and eventually ended up as a missed chance for the French.

Henry said about the incident:

"Franck placed the ball behind me instead of placing it in front of me, If he had placed it in front me I could have pushed it inside an empty goal without controlling it and that would have been a goal. That's how close we came to scoring."
The shot was actually blocked by the hand of a Swiss defender, Henry felt a penalty should have been awarded to France.
"I'm sure, it happened just in front of me and I saw it well."
Ribery, was dissapointing it his performance against Switzerland after impressive displays in the friendlies leading up to the World Cup. France have yet to score a goal in any World Cup since they won the final 1998. And have not scored a goal on foreign soil since 1986.

Cesc Fabregas made history today by becoming Spain's youngest World Cup player, in a game which Spain won 4-0 over Ukraine. Also, Spanish goal scorer Fernando Torres may be coming to the Premiership.

Fabregas, aged 19 years and 41 days came on in the 77th minute of play for Luis Garcia but had little opportunity to make a big impact on the world stage, and really who could out of just under 15 minutes of play?

Fernando Torres scored in the 81st minute of the game. Speculation over his future was brought to attention today with Manchester United apparently offering £25 million for the player's services. It's at these prices a move for Torres seems unlikely, Arsenal are not ones to be drawn into a bidding war. Torres is expected to remain at his current club Athletico Madrid anyway.

The latest transfer rumours going around today is that Arsenal centre-back Sol Campbell is being targeted by Portsmouth. Arsenè Wenger is also reportedly interested in Polish international keeper Artur Boruc.

Speculation has increased over Campbell's future, with a move to Fenerbahce seemingly the likeliest move, Portsmouth have been linked. Campbell's future has been in doubt for some time since falling out of favour at Arsenal, and with Tony Adams potentially joining Portsmouth as assistant manager a move could just happen.

Celtic keeper, Artur Boruc has been linked with a move to North London. Borac has two years left on his contract and has already told of his desire to play in the English premiership. Borac is expected to face off against Jens Lehmann when Germany and Poland meet today.
These rumours are merely speculation at this point in time and collected from various sources so do take them with a pinch of salt.

Big Phil vs Thierry: Stalemate.

A poor performance from France and a lack of finishing from Switzerland made for a lucky escape for France and one of the lease uninspiring games so far in the competition.

The game saw fellow Gunners Thierry Henry and Phililpe Senderos face off in a game that featured no less than 5 former and current Arsenal players.

Senderos looked very solid at the back and was by far the best player for the Swiss. Johan Djourou also featured in the game, coming on as a substitute, not having much to do but came close to grabbing a winner in the dieing minutes before his own team-mate, Frei, inexplicably handballed the ball away from Djourou.

Thierry looked isolated up front, having few real chances and not matching well with Wiltord. Arsenal target Franck Ribery had brief moments of inspiration but his overall performance resulted in being substituted in the second half. Vieira looked a shocking shadow of his former self, and like Zidane seems to getting by on former glories.

France will need to step up a gear as they won't get out the group stage playing like this.

Van Persie lashes out at team-mate Robben.

Arsenal and Holland forward, Robin Van Persie, has criticised his team-mate Arjen Robben for his lack of team ethic.

Robben was impressive in Holland's 1-0 win over Serbia & Montenegro, in which Robben grabbed the decisive goal off of a Van Persie assist. But later in the game Robben had chances to put his team-mates through on goal, Van Persie included, but decided rather to try and play it himself. Van Persie said:

"He needs to take his team-mates into account, sometimes he makes choices that are good for himself but not the team."

It'll be interesting to see how much team work between the two at Holland's crunch match against the Ivory Coast. Bickering between two playmakers could cost the Dutch heavily.

Senderos wary of French resistance.

Arsenal defenender Phillipe Senderos has raised his worries for Switzerland's opening World Cup clash against former champions, France, describing French forward Louis Saha as a "secret weapon"

It is expected that French coach, Domenech will start up front with his usual front two in Thierry Henry and David Trezegeut. However, Senderos worries that a lack of familiarity may affect the Swiss should Saha be featured.

“I know Henry inside out, but Saha can be better handled. We must not make any mistakes as we would be brutally punished by them."
And with Cisse injured, I wouldn't expect Saha to be warming the bench for too long.

'Mozart' looks like a cracking signing.

Tomas Rosicky made a great start to his World Cup with an impressive performance in the Czech Republics 3-0 victory over the United States.

Rosicky scored a fabulous strike to double the Czech lead after a Koller header in the fifth minute. Rosicky's goal was probably the best I've seen so far in this competition.

He looks to be a great signing not only for being able to whack the ball ala-Stevie Gerrard, but by the way he fits into the midfield, with play often revolving around him. Rosicky scored a second goal from a brilliant move in the 76th minute. A class playmaker as well as a finisher I eagerly await watching him at Ashburton Grove...

You can see his goals here.

Walcott should be fit for England.

Theo Walcott should shake off a calf injury he picked up in training to be fit for the match against Trinidad & Tobago on Thursday.

Wayne Rooney had been rumoured to start after Michael Owen looked unfit during England's victory over Paraguay in which he was substituted after 55 minutes. But it now appears Walcott could start as he is decidingly more match fit than Rooney. Intrestingly enough, it appears it was actually Rooney who caused the injury to Walcott.

When questioned about why he brought on a midfielder, Downing, to replace Owen rather than a straight swap with Walcott, Eriksson said:

"We thought about it, but it was the first game in the World Cup. Let's have more training, let's go on with the World Cup a little bit, I think it is a big responsibility to start or to come on in the first game of the World Cup."

Tony Adams in line for Pompey job.

Former Arsenal captain, Tony Adams, has been in talks with Harry Redknapp and Portsmouth for the role of assistant manager.

Portsmouth have been looking to fill the vacant role since Kevin Bond left for Newcastle. Adams has recently been coaching in Holland and was formerly Wycombe manager.

Harry Redknapp told Sky Sports News:

"I can confirm I met with Tony Adams on Friday, I like Tony a great deal and he has got a lot to offer, we will wait to see how things develop.

World Cup Focus: Is the ball that bad?

I just finished watching the Ivory Coast/Argentina game and have to say this World Cup has gotten off to a fantastic start. A leaky German defence with a deadly attack, plucky Costa Ricans, fabulous Argentines, determined Ivorians and fortunate England and Sweden players.

But a lot of the conversation has been on the new World Cup ball. The "Teamgeist" from Adidas has caused a lot of controversy for supposedly being impossible to defend and hold onto. But is all this just misplaced hype? Jens Lehmann was critical of the ball ahead of the tournament claiming it swung too much in the air and was difficult to predict. This certainly appeared the case during the Germany v. Costa Rica game, although Jens had little to complain about with both goals that went past him being from close range.

The opening goal by Lahm certainly was spectacular but was perfectly placed into the top corner, almost as straight as a die, certainly nothing a different ball could change. Frings goal in the 87th minute however was a different matter, the ball took a major swerve carrying it past the goalkeeper who stood no chance. The goal certainly looked spectacular but was criticised for having "too much" swing. It's almost as if people don't expect players to add any curve as the ball does all the work. Ridiculous really.

The balls effect certainly seems to be exaggerated, and reminds me of only a few years ago when the "Vento" ball by Nike was introduced. Goalkeepers complained, strikers applauded it and the press kicked up a fuss as usual. All in all it just became a great publicity stunt for Nike. And we've been using the ball for years now as well as it's successor and I can notice no noticeable difference in play from 10 years ago.

All this is taking away from the actual talk of the games of which there is a lot to discuss. Germany looked very impressive upfront and I think they will be a real force with Ballack back. Although they had an absolute dire defence who could suffer against better teams. I just hope Jens isn't associated with the leaky defence as he was excellent against Japan in a pre-season friendly as well as for Arsenal throughout the year.

Sweeden looked very unimpressive with Freddie Ljungberg making little impact other than the odd cross. Robin van Persie should start for Holland tomorrow upfront with Van Nistelrooy. The Ivorians could have walked away with the game today but had no clinical finishing, which of course the Argentines had in abundance.

England were also lucky to walk away with the win, a lucky goal and poor finishing from Paraguay. Ashley Cole was at fault for one of Paraguay's best chances just before the half time interval. I was also disappointed not to see Theo Walcott come on, but Sven decided to bring on Stewart Downing, a midfielder, for Michael Owen.

Overall, a cracking start to the competition and I look forward to the games tomorrow.

Update: Lehmann fit for Poland game.

In reference to the news earlier that Jen's Lehmann could miss out on Germany's game with Poland, it has now been officially stated that he will be fit.

Harald Stenger the German spokesman said:

"His injury is without any consequences, he went through the full fitness session this morning."
German captain Michael Ballack is expected to return for the game as well.

Lehmann's Injury Scare for Germany.

Jen's Lehmann could be dealt a cruel blow to his World Cup dreams. The German number one picked up an injury in his country's 4-2 win against Costa Rica in the opening game of the World Cup. Jens twisted his ankle early on into the first half but played the full 90 minute, receiving treatment throughout the first half and during the half time interval.

It's not known if Lehmann will recover in time for the game against Poland but if he were not to it would allow former number one, Oliver Kahn, into the position.

One also couldn't help notice a wry smile from the face of Ollie Kahn as Germany conceded a second goal during yesterday's victory, as the two rivals are not the best of friends.

This summer will tell Arsenal´s finish next season

Last summer , Arsene Wenger promised the signing of two or three established world class players in the age range of 24-27.He said that we had a lot of young promising players already and it was important to blend it with more experienced players that will adapt immediately to the Premiership.

That was after a season that saw Arsenal began with panache , being tagged as Invicibles and the football of August 2004 till October 2004 was probably the most exciting we ever played. However, then came the Battle of the Buffet debacle, the Colegate affair, the Lauren & Vieira spat and the Wenger and Lehmann falling out.

Arsenal stuttered from November 2004 to February 2005 but a strong finish saw us to 2nd place and the FA Cup.

Summer 2005 did not go as Arsene predicted. Hleb was signed for 10m but the other two world class signings lined up, Baptista and Robinho did not materialise. Shaun Wright Phillips was the other name mentionned but Arsenal never actually bid for him.

In fact, Arsenal did not strengthen properly last summer. Far from that, we lost the influential
captain Patrick Vieira and elegant and classy midfielder Edu. While Hleb can potentially become world class and showed his skills in the latter part of last season, he had a difficult beginning to the Premiership. Unable to sign Baptista amd Robinho, Wenger did not find alternatives. Instead, he brought in 16 year old keeper Vitor Mannone, 17 year old French left back Traore and...17 year old Song(You know what I think of him by now)

These 3 were hardly established signings and January 2006 saw the signings of 16 year old Theo Walcott, 21 year old Adebayor and 19 year old Diaby.

Summer 2005 began with Arsenal predicting an assault on the Premiership. At the end of that summer i.e beginning of last season, Arsene Wenger decided to lower his ambitions. That is before the season started,Arsene knew he was not going to win the league. It became a year in transition but it did not have to be to quote Arsenal legend, Dennis Bergkamp.

The result? An all time low finish of fourth (under Wenger) and over 30 points behind Chelsea. This season , Chelsea have signed Michael Ballack and Andreiy Shevchenko. Whichever way you look at it, these are two absolute world class AND established players. Liverpool will strengthen further this summer- they finished 19 pts behind us in 2004-2005, but 15 pts ahead last season (a gap of 34 pts in one summer).

If Arsenal do not add two world class signings to Rocisky, a Premiership challenge can be ruled out again for next season. Does Arsene believe we can catch Chelsea next season ? Or will he give up before the season starts?

Arsenal on verge of signing.

Arsenal are on the verge of signing the 17 year old midfielder Vincent van den Berg, according to reports from Holland and Sky Sports.

The player has reportedly met with Arsene Wenger and fellow Dutchman, Dennis Bergkamp. Arsenal have reportedly offered the player a contract and are awaiting the player's decision. The former Feyenoord youngster had looked set to sign with present club Heerenveen but the lure of Arsenal looks set to prise the player to North London.

Van Den Berg, who has appeared at Under-17 level for his country, will follow in the footsteps of Robin van Persie, who signed for Arsenal from Feyenoord in 2004.

Rumour Mill : Arsenal linked with European duo.

The latest product of the Rumour Mill today is that Arsenal are chasing two up and coming stars in European football. Firstly Arsenal are linked with Ternana playmaker Luis Jimenez. The player is currently on loan to Fiorentina, but with his parent club now relegated to Seria C, it seems unlikely that the Italian strugglers will hold onto the player. Jimenez is said to have caught the attention of Arsenal scouts, however a permanent move to Fiorentina looks more realistic.

Arsenal are also linked with Rennes midfielder Yoann Gourcruff again, the speculation over the players future has been brought to attention partly because AC Milan have confirmed their interest in the player. A statement on the Rennes website said that:

"We received an official proposal from Milan and we are studying with them the possibility of a one-year loan after the immediate transfer."

Although no word on Arsenal as of yet as, this just seems to be merely speculation.

Freddie & Jens eager to beat England.

Arsenal players Jens Lehmann and Freddie Ljungberg are looking forward to facing England and look to defeat them. Freddie Ljungberg recently said in an interview that he was looking to get the better of his English Arsenal counterparts and maintain Sweden's unbeaten record against the English.

"That of course is going to be a major game - massive in every sense, of course I had been getting some stick in training in London. But we haven't lost in something like 38 years. That's my chance to hit back."
Freddie won't have long to wait as England face Sweden on the 20th June in what could be a crucial match for both teams. Jen's Lehmann however has no guarantee the two sides will meet but says he's ready and hit out at the country's form in the competition.
"The English know we (Germany) have always been more successful than them during tournaments. They don't know how to go through a whole tournament. We know how to do the job better."

Cygan on his way out? & Menez will not go cheap.

Reports in France claim French League One side St Etienne are to make an approach for Arsenal centre-back Pascal Cygan.

This comes after Cygan had recently accepted his status as a substitute player for Arsenal and not a first team regular. But the temptation of first team football in his home country could be enough to prise Cygan away from North London.

The news will be welcomed by some Arsenal fans as Cygan is often the butt of criticism for a poor performance by the team. Cygan cost £2.1 million from Lille in 2001.

In other news, Sochaux have warned the up and coming playmaker Jeremy Menez will not be leaving the club cheaply. Arsenal having reportedly been watching the player but have yet to make an official move. Monaco and Paris St.Germain are also said to be admirers of the player who has one year remaining on his contract after turning down an extension at the club.

Sochaux chairman Jean-Claude Plessis commented that the player will not leave for a small fee despite risking getting nothing for the player should his contract run out and he is signed on a free transfer.

"He is evading us so far, anyway, I have no intention to sell him cut-price."

Campbell: Fenerbahce move likely

Arsenal defender Sol Campbell has fuelled speculation over his proposed move to Turkish giants Fenerbahce by saying the odds of a highbury exit are "very high". Campbell has been expected to leave the club after falling out of favour at both club and country level.

Campbell told the Vatan newspaper:

"The probability of me joining Fenerbahce is very high, Not because they've offered me a lot of money, but because they have challenged me. Everything will be clearer after the World Cup."

"It is obvious that they are considering me seriously, they made me a good and full offer. We are progressing step-by-step. I will give my decision after the World Cup.

"But, the probability of me joining Fenerbahce is bigger than that of refusing the offer."

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