Bukayo We Love You. Refreshing Euros. Xhaka Please Stay: Summer Thoughts.

The Euros are over and we have a winner. Football came nearly home but the lure of the eternal city was simply too great. Did the best team of the tournament win? Well if you set yourself up hard to beat but can also play good attacking football you will have a very good chance. That is what Italy and England did and that is why they ended up in the final. The best teams were probably France and Spain, and especially the latter showed some fabulous football at times, but they did not have the bounce of the ball and probably also not the best system of football to win the Euros. The French did not look like a team and Spain lacked a bit of luck. But then again, if you lose out in a penalty shootout against a team that misses two out of five, you don’t really deserve to go through. Italy won’t believe their luck that they got away with missing twice two out of five pens and still ended up lifting the trophy. It was definitely the tournament of the demise of penalty taking.

England are a work in progress and that seems to have been forgotten by many of the fans. This team benefited from being on the easier side of the draw, playing most games at home and Gareth Southgate’s fine management. Better preparation with the pens could even have meant the ultimate victory, but it cannot be denied that this England team is strong and will only get stronger given the age profile.

From an Arsenal perspective, Saka did very well and so did Xhaka for the Swiss. I am glad that Granit is still a Gunner as I write this and that Saka signed a long term contract. I think Holding could have done a good job in this England team and it is only a matter of time before Emile will become a member of the national squad. Tierney played well for Scotland, and all three Euro internationals will have grown during the tournament.

Why Southgate thought it would be okay to give three young players the final three penalties is a mystery for me. Yes they may have been good during training sessions but doing it in front of 60k nervous and highly demanding supporters is a totally different ball game. Surely, the likes of Shaw, Sterling and Maguire, all with much more life and football experience, would have been a safer bet?!

It was a high risk strategy by Southgate and it back-fired. The subsequent racial abuse was sadly predictable and this should also have been in the back of Southgate’s mind in my opinion. Saka, Sancho and Rashford will all bounce back and will hopefully get opportunities in their footballing careers to make amends for the national team, but surely they should have been protected from this very predictable outcome at so young an age. Did the older players bottle it or did Southgate really make such a bad call?!

Bukayo we love you man.

The racist abuse may have been predictable but strong action is now required. It is extremely sad that racism is still so prevalent in our times and it really isn’t just a few Twitter idiots. It is a long road to full equality and colour-blindness when it comes to people, and we all need to fight for it tooth and nail.

I found the footie during the Euros refreshing and I am hopeful that we are going to see a slight shift away from the pass-the-ball-to-death-alongside-the-lines that teams like Liverpool and Citeh do twice a week, and Arsenal are guilty of too at times. I saw the ball being moved much faster between the lines and the reemergence of ball-tight dribblers. Raheem Sterling was a joy to watch and so were Grealish and our very own Saka. The Italians had Chiesa and Jorginho, and the Dutch had Frenkie de Jong and (a disappointing) Memphis trying to add a bit of footballing magic to the game. There were more good footballers on display, especially the Germans have some very good dribblers.

So now we have to wait 4.5 weeks to kick-off of the new PL season. First Arsenal will play a few friendlies, starting tomorrow against Hibernian and for those prepared to pay for it, you can watch it life on Arsenal.com.

By TotalArsenal.

34 thoughts on “Bukayo We Love You. Refreshing Euros. Xhaka Please Stay: Summer Thoughts.

  • Ah, Total, good to have you back in the saddle, sure footed and balanced. Ride on, good man, ride on.

    For me and many, racism is a misnomer. There is but one human race with fascinating ethnic diversity within it. Darwinian theory, which is still fiendishly propagated by our education systems has a lot to answer for. The idea that there exist various races, some superior or more highly evolved is a scam which offered ‘moral’ and ‘intellectual’ underpinning to such crimes as slavery, apartheid, and the holocaust. If anyone’s statue should be toppled, it should be Darwin’s. Let’s get back to the understanding, enshrined in the Good Book and echoed in the Declaration of Independence, that we are, each and every one of us made in the image of God, equal in HIs sight and loved by Him.

    Great photo’s Total. Two joyous young men inspiring hope in the future of our great club. I shall watch the Hib’s game. They’ve always been my Scottish team as they wear the green and white version of our red and white strip. They also gave us the midfield magician, Alex Cropley, who shone briefly before two leg breaks. He and Bob Wilson were the first players born in England to represent Scotland. God bless Alex, as he walks through the trials of dementia.

    Thank you, GN5 for coordinating the fun throughout EURO 20. Does my head in thinking of the math’s behind all those computations. Congratulations on your victory. No less a luminary than Arsene stated that there is a prize for 4th place, so what might I expect…….?

  • Very well summarized. I especially enjoyed – and would frame it for UEFA licence trainings – that “if you lose out in a penalty shootout against a team that misses two out of five, you don’t really deserve to go through”.

    Fully agreed with the comments on our 3 representatives, and really wish that in the 2024 Euros there will be close to 10 players from the squad. Not by buying already established internationals (we could use a couple of reinforcements, though), but by nurturing young talents and proving the existing team members worthy of call-up (Saliba, Okonkwo, Hein, Holding, Chambers, Mari, Tavares, Bellerin, Willock, AMN, ESR, Nketiah, Balogun).

    I’m looking forward to the pre-season, and see if the club is willing to bring in anybody else besides the rumored Lokonga. I would appreciate one from Aouar and Camavinga, but – as expressed in previous comments – I’m more interested in seeing a meaningful reduction of the squad. Probably would prefer selling over loaning, but my stand depends on the player, price and destination as well.

    I sincerely hope that the rumor on Xhaka leaving fades, just like the rumor on White joining. I’m also quite interested if Willian indeed leaves Arsenal, or Fabrizio Romano was just full of $hit.
    https://www.justarsenal.com/willian-leaving-arsenal-100-per-cent/283309

  • Thanks Stuart, that’s a fine comment. I am not aware of Darwin propagating a variance in superiority of human races. Could this have come after Darwin when folk started to make sickening interpretations of his work. Something similar happened to Nietzsche and Marx…

    Nice to know you have a place in your heart for Hibs. I think I am more drawn to Hearts.

    Nice words for GN5 and well deserved. He kept the blog going with his fine competition. We are lucky to have him.

  • Cheers PB,

    There is a good chance that more Gunners will be playing for their national teams in the future as per the names you mentioned.

    If XhakA leaves I think we will make no progress this season, even if were to buy a big replacement as it would take time to settle them in. So yes we share the same hope.

  • Good one Total. I for one believe that Saka will be a better player and more balanced after this experience. He will learn to handle victories and defeats with equanimity.
    The topic of racism is more complex to handle and it doesn’t just stop at that. The kind of Tribalism we see at all levels in every country and society is mind boggling. I honestly believe organized religion has to take majority of the blame for putting one against another and trying to claim superiority over other. Offcourse the Nexus of politicians and clergies have taken this to extremes. People are gullible and are overcome by multiple insecurities that make them.vulnerable for brain washing. Whether it’s the Holocaust, multiple genocides that we have seen in history all comes down to insecurities manifesting in powerful cliche extinguishing the other. Unless we become rationale and believe that all humans are created by a creator and you wouldn’t dare to ascribe motives to the creator for creating difference between people this menace will continue to be exploited by politicians for their gains.

  • Madhu, that is a fine comment and I agree with a lot. In this part of the world there are now more atheists than believers in a God, but I can sense it is different in India.

    Tolerance is the key principle for me. We have so much more in common than we think. 🙏 🦒

  • TA, India is a very religious and under the current right wing regime a very divisive country to live in. In my 45 years i have never experienced the outward hatred that i see on social media and general discourse towards Muslims in particular. Even for a person like me who is born into majority religion Hinduism and privileged class, fact that i have Agnostic and liberal view i get abused all the time. I guess its a world wide phenomenon. You can understand how the PM of India behaves when you hear your Home Secretary Preti Patel calls him her brother and friend. Its very painful to listen to even educated, privileged people getting brain washed into believing Hindu majoritarian view and espousing extreme Islamophobia. Admittedly we have had fault lines within the society between Hindus and Muslims but under this regime its given rise to ugly proportions where abusing and physically hurting Muslims is considered as a badge of honor freely circulated on social media. Its frightening to know the newer generations will have access to this and what would become of them. Its a scary time and i guess will need a whole new revolution across the world to counter this ‘Othering”. In every country/society we seem to have legitimized this othering and tribalism which iam personally very worried.

  • Madhu, that is a sad and worrying summary of your country’s state of affairs and thanks for sharing with us. Having read A Suitable Boy by V Seth and watched a programme re the India/Pakistan partition recently, I can understand what you describe a bit better. Sorry to hear you are so concerned about it.

  • TA, The partition leading to this hatred was predated by what we call as the First war of Independence (1857 which the British call Sepoy Mutiny) where both Hindus and Muslims fought against British under a Muslim leader. There is a beautiful history of syncretic culture and coexistence between the two communities. But as we came closer to independence politics played a role in India’s partition after which the greatest bloodshed and migration in the World history tore us apart. If you watch documentaries around India’s partition they will provide you the backdrop of this hatred. North of India was largely affected whereas South where i live had minimal impact. But the seeds of hatred sowed in 1947, much of healing happened post independence under a very liberal, secular constitution, but seems to have ripened by a Right wing ideology that is dominating India for the last decade.

  • Cheers Madhu, the Brits were frightened of a united India…. I will not say much more about it. Here’s hoping for a change of government soon and a renewed road to harmony and tolerance.

  • Not read the article yet but love the headline and can appreciate the import of such a post. Will go back to read it. First, I wish to say congratulations to GN5 for sweeping the stakes in the Euros ‘20 Predictions game. Well deserved and good sport for keeping it up diligently. Well done, Kev for a good run too.

    Second matter is to say I saw a bit of the game today and went over the rest of it from my PVR. It was a very good test for the boys and a wake up call to the reality that there are just no small teams anymore as it showed. Hibs played like a team that is ahead of us with their pre-season routine (they have played 3 friendly games already) and it showed in their energetic display and how they bounced our lads off the ball with ease. However, we did show a lot of promise and it proved to be a very enjoyable game.

    What was missing was match sharpness and the finishing. Nice to see our young keepers strut their stuff as well. The games come to you fast and hopefully, our boys have learnt a thing or two from it. If Kolasinac and Bellerin were in the shop window, they would have to do a bit more to be more vigorously courted. Overall, a good workout.

  • Now, to the subject of the post, I thought it was a good tournament and while the best footballing sides (Spain, Portugal, Belgium, even Denmark) didn’t reach the final, I agree Italy and England were good value for it. They gave a showpiece final, even if it was cagey at times.

    England were just a couple of “penalty-kick-takers” decisions away from winning it. Knowing he’s had his own penalty kick disappointment back in ‘96, I expected Southgate to have prepared well and decisively in readiness for potential shootout. He would (should) have psyched the more experienced players up for it to avoid the situation he put the team in.
    Those kids had no business being made to carry the weight of an expectant nation on their young shoulders; if it got to sudden death and you introduced them, it may have had a different outcome, I feel. But with each kick having such great significance and with such a big man in Donnarumma in the Italian goal, it was always going to be nervy for kids. Hey, I get the feeling the likes of Sterling, Grealish and Shaw bottled it and tamely allowed the kids to step forward, which is rather surprising. I know Southgate took responsibility for the failings of the team and it may well have been his decision, but that’s where you’d expect the seniors to pull rank on the kids and prevail on the manager to allow them take the decisive kicks. Water under the bridge now, I guess.

    As for the racist abuse, there is not much to add to your stated position. The less said…..

  • I did think Hibs’ second goal was offside. Just viewed it again and it was miles offside and the refs just milked the occasion as a friendly to allow it slide.

  • Yes, the second goal was way offside, and the keeper also left the goal line before Pepe’s penalty. But probably both decision could stand in a(n away) friendly, especially as the penalty itself wasn’t crystal.
    Okonkwo made one small and one major mistake – like Rúnarsson did against Manchester City – but due to his young age, fresh contract and the game being a friendly I hope Arthur will get a lighter treatment than Alex did.

    The highlights of the game were our 2 free kicks: Pepe did a great curl inviting a fantastic save from the goalkeeper, and Thomas’ shot was also pretty impressive. While this was just the first game of the pre-season Lacazette seemed much lively than Aubameyang, and Bellerin was also more efficient than Soares. The decision to play 4-4-2 was strange, but we traveled with 4 strikers, so I assume it wasn’t a tactical decision, more of a squad structure necessity.

  • Hi Total
    Yes, undoubtedly the Fabians and others of their ilk expanded upon Darwin’s writings, and in the worst cases took his theories to their ‘logical’ extremes. Many aspects of Darwin’s theories were not uncommon thinking among his peers and those who went before him. However he popularized them, the theory of eugenics tragically being one of them. Take this example from “The descent of man” “With savages, the weak in body or mind are soon eliminated; and those that survive commonly exhibit a vigorous state of health. We civilised men, on the other hand, do our utmost to check the process of elimination; we build asylums for the imbecile, the maimed, and the sick; we institute poor-laws; and our medical men exert their utmost skill to save the life of every one to the last moment. There is reason to believe that vaccination has preserved thousands, who from a weak constitution would formerly have succumbed to small-pox. Thus the weak members of civilised societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man. It is surprising how soon a want of care, or care wrongly directed, leads to the degeneration of a domestic race; but excepting in the case of man himself, hardly any one is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed.” Hmmm…

    Darwin’s works have been sanitized but a careful reading of his published writings, especially “The descent of man” can only horrify.

  • Thanks Stuart, that’s a disturbing quote and we know that these sort of views were developed further during the Nazi years. All so sad. 😔

  • This as a cut and paste job but I’m in full agreement with the author.

    I just want to have a word on the England game & the “Blame Game” that has followed.
    I personally have not read the racist remarks nor do I intentionally intend to but one thing that I am 100% sure of is this, approx 2 minutes before kick off, you all claimed to be England fans…
    YOU ARE ACTUALLY A FxxxING DISGRACE
    You soil the name of England, you soil the name of football & you soil the name of your peers.
    Every man on that pitch wanted nothing (Literally Nothing) but to bring home that trophy for England. It never happened & all you so called fans decide to play the blame game & use Race to do it.
    You cannot be a fan or a supporter of the English game AND be a racist,
    YOU FxxxING RETARDS.
    I am a firm believer in free speech & if some get offended (whatever that actually means) then tough tits, grow up, it’s “sticks & stones”. At the end of the day it is, to me, just name calling but don’t ever use MY sport, MY country or MY social media to justify your hatred & bigotry because you feel you know best. You don’t, you’re nothing, your not good enough to be out there with the chance to make the goal OR miss. You are shit footballers with shit lives trying to spoil it for those that are living your dream. Shut your filthy spectator mouths & let true England supporters, true football fans & true human beings grieve the loss together so WE can rebuild & come back stronger. Every one of those “BLACK” lads out there are mates of your WHITE players.
    Get some respect for yourself then maybe your words can mean something other than “I’m a Delinquent” Your a plastic & will never be anything because you can only talk shit not do shit…

  • Bukayo has shown great maturity and dignity in taking time to reflect and respond in the way that he has. Great respect to him!

    On a lighter note, a Leeds fan posted the following on Twitter two days ago, “Queen Victoria died 44,000 days ago today. 22,000 days have passed since Spurs won the first division. Therefore as of tomorrow, Spurs’ last league title win will officially be closer to the Victorian age than the present day.”

  • OX10, that is a fine bit of history. Should be taught in schools everywhere. North London is red.

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