Writer: Tim Stillman
Date:Friday June 8 2012
Day 1: A mixed day for our boys in Eastern Europe. In the tournament's curtain raiser Arsenal keeper Wojciech Szczesny was culpable for Greece's equaliser for Poland. The Pole in the goal was later sent off for a professional foul as his defence went AWOL with the scores at 1-1. Thankfully for him, reserve keeper Przemyslaw Tyton saved Karagounis' penalty and it finished 1-1 between Poland and Greece.
Mixed fortunes for our two boys in the evening kickoff as Tomas Rosicky captained Czech Republic as they lined up against a Russia side captained by Andrei Arshavin. Given more time and space to play in Russia's counter attacking style, Arshavin flourished, setting up Russia's second on the way to a convincing 4-1 victory. The diminutive playmaker would have had a couple more assists too had striker Aleksandr Kherzakov not been infected by the ghost of Kaba Diawara.
Tomorrow, Robin van Persie, Per Mertesacker and Nicklas Bendtner will likely represent their nations.
Day 2: More mixed fortunes for our boys, in the battle between the two best strikers on earth, Nicklas Bendtner's Denmark overcame Robin van Persie's Holland 1-0 in the early kickoff. van Persie missed a presentable chance in the first half, before slipping in front of goal in the second. Thereafter, Arjen Robben decided to hold his own "see how ridiculous an angle I can shoot from" competition. I wonder if the balding Bayern winger ever stops and wonders why there are 9 other guys dressed exactly the same as him.
In the evening kickoff, Lukas Podloski played the full 90 minutes as Germany defeated Portugal 1-0. Per Mertesacker wasn't quite fit enough to start the game, but our impossibly blue eyed new signing had a productive game on the left as Ze Germans won 1-0 thanks to a header from Mario Gomez.
Day 3: No direct Arsenal involvement, but ex Arsenal skipper Cesc Fabregas scored Spain's equaliser in a 1-1 draw with Italy in the 5pm kickoff. Di Natale had earlier put the Italians ahead. Cesc played in an unfamiliar centre forward role, preferred to Llorente and Torres.
In the later match, ex Gunner Eduardo got a 2 minute run out as a sub as Croatia comfortably disposed of Republic of Ireland 3-1 in Poznan.
Day 4: Plenty of Arsenal interest in the first game of the day as Alex Oxlade Chamberlain was a surprise starter in England's 1-1 draw with France. The Ox showed some promising touches and lasted 76 minutes as England ground out a creditable point with a manager that is seemingly accepting the limitations of his options and setting up a team and a system as opposed to a cardre of egos. Theo Walcott came on in the 88th minute. Laurent Koscielny was an unused substitute for France. Ex Arsenal player Samir Nasri cancelled out Joleon Lescott's opener.
No Gunners on show in the late game in the same group between Sweden and Ukraine. Arsenal academy graduate Sebastien Larsson played the full 90 minutes as the hosts came from behind with two fairytale goals from Andriy Shevchenko to defeat the Swedes, who had taken the lead through teapot a like Zlatan Ibrahomovic. Rumours that Roman Abramovic is preparing a £50m bid for Shevchenko to replace Torres are as yet unfounded....
Day 5: In today's early kickoff, Tomas Rosicky's Czech Republic scored twice in the first 5 minutes, but were forced to hold on for a 2-1 win. Potentially bad news for Arsenal though as Tomas Rosicky, who has been suffering with a calf strain, had to be replaced at the interval. The ever reliable Young Guns Blog says he has gone for a scan on his achilles. It sounds like his tournament could be over.
In the later game, Andrey Arshavin set up Russia's opening goal with an inswinging free kick, converted by Dzagoev, fast looking like one of the hottest properties of the tournament. But Polish skipper Jakub Blaszczykowski equalised for the Poles. The winner takes all in the final game of the group between Czech Republic and Poland.
Day 6: Plenty of Arse action to get our teeth into on Day 6. Portugal raced into a two goal lead against Denmark until the world's greatest striker Nicklas Bendtner scored two peachy headers to draw level. Silvestre Valera hit a late winner after possibly the best dummy you'll ever see.
In the later game, it was Podolski versus van Persie as Germany took on Holland. Lukas showed a disciplined, if unspectacular performance on the left. Mario Gomez, who couldn't hit water in the sea against Chelsea, has evidently decided to rediscover his touch with two brilliantly taken goals in the first half. Having missed with a couple of efforts in the first half (which were nowhere near as easy as BBC's awful commentary team tried to make out), Robin van Persie hit an impressive goal with 18 minutes left, but couldn't stop his country slinking to defeat which leaves them on the brink of a shock early exit.
We now have 3 Arsenal goals at these championships, the same amount registered by Gunners players in the whole of Euro 2008.
Day 7: Some stranger news to begin involving Arsenal players, before the games have begun so to speak. It would appear Nicklas Bendtner could be in hot water with UEFA. Following his equaliser against Portugal yesterday, the Danish striker lifted his shirt to reveal the logo of bookmakers Paddy Power on the waistband of his kecks.
Of course, the world is quite familiar with the sight of Super Nick's undercrackers, but this time the double vodka and red bull he ordered hasn't been spiked with two shots of vodka. It was a publicity stunt UEFA are likely to take a dim view to given their rules around unauthorised advertising. Good to see UEFA getting to grips with the real issues in the game. I'd imagine had Nick's knickers said "White Power" it probably would have been swept under the carpet......
In the 5pm kickoff GMT, Croatia came from a goal behind to draw 1-1 with Italy. Ex Arsenal striker Eduardo came on as a sub for the final 8 minutes. And ex Gunners skipper Cesc Fabregas came on for the last fourteen minutes of Spain's shellacking of Ireland, helping himself to the final goal in a 4-0 rout. Torres had helped himself to two and David Silva to one previously.
Day 8: An odd beginning to Friday's fixtures as France v Ukraine was delayed by an hour due to a biblical storm. It eventually got restarted and saw France comfortably beat the hosts 2-0 with goals from Cabaye and Menez.
A very entertaining affair came later on as England took on Sweden. Andy Carroll headed England in front before two goals from the divine beard of Olof Mellberg put Sweden ahead. Hodgson threw Theo Walcott on who made all the difference. Firstly equalising and scoring his first England goal for nearly four years with a dipping shot. He then produced a scintillating run and cross for Danny Welbeck to score the winner. Alex Oxlade Chamberlain was also a late substitute.
Day 9: Group A came to a very unpredictable end. Tomas Rosicky was injured as his teammates laboured to a 1-0 win over co hosts Poland to top Group A. Wojciech Szczesny was available again after suspension but left out by the Polish coach.
In the other game, Greece amazingly upset the odds by beating Russia 1-0 to qualify for the Quarter Finals, so Andrey Arshavin is coming home early too.
Day 10: Robin van Persie and Holland are going home early as Holland fell to a 2-1 defeat to Portugal, meaning the Dutch go home without a single point. I imagine Mr. van Persie will be hitting a beach for a week or two before discussions over his future begin, but the club's marketing men will be licking their lips because he will potentially be available to play in the Asia tour.
Elsewhere, the more impressive Germans joined Portugal in the Quarter Finals. Lukas Podolski celebrated becoming the youngest ever European to reach 100 international caps by opening the scoring against Denmark. Nicklas Bendtner assisted for the Danes equaliser before Lars Bender's winner. Nicklas Bendtner joins Arshavin and van Persie in the departure lounge. Greece will play Germany and Portugal Czech Republic.
In the women's internationals, Arsenal were also well represented. Kim Little bagged a hat trick for Scotland as they beat Israel 8-0 and Rachel Yankey scored the winner for England as they beat Netherlands 1-0 in Salford. Yankey will equal the record for England caps if she plays again against Slovenia on Thursday night. Steph Houghton and Alex Scott also played the full 90 minutes for England and Ellen White came on as a half time substitute.
Day 11: Italy beat Ireland 2-0 as Group C came to a close, whilst Jesus Navas' late winner saw Spain overcome Croatia. Spain qualify as group winners, with Italy runners up. Cesc Fabregas and Eduardo were both late subs in the Spain v Croatia game.
Day 12: England unexpectedly top their group and go through to play Italy in the Quarter Final on Sunday night. Wayne Rooney's header was enough to give England the victory. Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade Chamberlain were late substitutes.
France lost 2-0 to Sweden to consign themselves to 2nd place and a Saturday night tie with Spain. Zlatan Ibrahimovic and ex Gunner Seb Larsson with the goals. Arsenal target Yann M'Villa was replaced by fellow Arsenal target Olivier Giroud in that game. Philippe Mexes was booked, thereby earning a suspension that will surely see Laurent Koscielny deputise on Saturday.
Day 13: A horribly dull and conservative Czech Republic succumbed to a deserved 1-0 defeat to Portugal, as Cristiano "Me, Me, Meeeeeeeeeeeeeeee" Ronaldo finally stropped the ball into the net in the finla quarter of the game. Czech captain Tomas Rosicky stayed sidelined with an achilles problem. He now comes home to rest his weary limbs on a beach somewhere.
Day 14: Germany were able to leave their front three out- including new boy Lukas Podolski- and still steamrolled Greece 4-2. Philip Lahm showed shear class not to shank a first half shot into the net (sorry). Greece amazingly equalised, despite ending the night with just 19% of the possession, when Giorgios Samaras helped himself to a scrappy equaliser. But A Khedira volley, a Klose header and a fulminating effort from Reus had the Germans back in control. Until the referee gave Greece a ruffle of the hair and lollipop with the softest penalty award ever, borne entirely of pity, to ensure Greece put an undeserved sheen on the scoreline.
Day 15: Spain defeated France 2-0 with two goals from Xabi Alonso. Laurnet Koscielny played the full 90 minutes, however, he and likely signing Olivier Giroud are also on their way home.
Day 16: England succumbed to a predictable 4-2 penalty loss to Italy after 120 scoreless minutes. Theo Walcott came on as a 60th minute substitute, Alex Oxlade Chamberlain was an unused sub. Both are on their way home, leaving Lukas Podolski and Per Mertesacker as the only remianing Gunners in the semi finals.
The semi finals line up with Spain facing Portugal on Wednesday and Germany meeting Italy on Thursday.
Day 17: Spain and Portugal played out an incredibly dull 0-0 draw over 120 minutes in the first semi final. Cesc Fabregas came on as a 54th minute substitute and duly converted the winning penalty in the shootout as Spain were 4-2 victors from 12 yards. Spain go into Sunday's final, becoming only the second national side ever to reach three consecutive major finals. They will bid to be the first side to win three major finals on the bounce against the winners of Germany v Italy tomorrow.
Day 18: Italy demonstrated a tactical masterclass to deservedly defeat Germany 2-1. Balotelli bagged two first half goals to put the Azurri in command, Arsenal's Lukas Podolski was brought off at half time. Mesut Ozil scored an injury time consolation from the spot. Italy play Spain in Sunday's final. Podolski and Mertesacker go home with no remaining Arsenal interest for the final.
Day 19: The Final saw Spain outclass Italy with a record 4-0 final win. Cesc Fabregas teed up David Silva for the first, before a sublime Xavi pass set up Jordi Alba just before half time. An already uneven contest was rather killed when Thiago Motta injured himself minutes after coming on, leaving Italy down to ten for the final half an hour. Fernando Torres and Juan Mata added late goals as Spain ran out winners, retaining the title they won in 2008. Congratulations Spain.
Now, 13 days till Arsenal's first friendly..................
Date:Friday June 8 2012
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