I would never normally watch an England friendly, but would always take the opportunity to watch Brazil. Invariably, I find with England the protagonists both on the field as well as in the stands about as loathsome as each other, whereas Brazil are always accompanied by sunshine, flair, rhythm and a certain majesty both on the field and always amongst their wonderful fans.
Last night I was very pleasantly surprised for many reasons.
For me, Roy Hodgson has returned some much needed dignity to the England Manager’s role. He has also introduced some flexible thinking with his formations, and last night the team lined up with an exciting 4-1-2-3.
This is exactly how I feel Arsenal should set up. Gerrard was absolutely superb as he marshalled proceedings from deep. As a Leader, and he is that, he could organize and motivate both the players behind as well as in front of him. Because of his statuesque presence, the fluidity of the inevitable Brazilian forward surges was broken, while that same presence allowed Cleverly and Jack to ply the most effective aspects of their trade.
The same set up caused confusion and disorder amongst the Brazilian defenders, as it was so difficult to know which player to cover and from where they would appear. Technically the lone striker, Shrek would sometimes drop deeper allowing Theo to move more centrally, and the same applied with that other Utd Bloke on the other side.
Man of the Match Jack was quite simply superb. His forward surges invariably ended with a perfect defence splitting through ball, and they always ended with him being circled by two or more Brazilians, and in doing so, space was appearing everywhere for the front boys.
Now, talking of the front boys bring me nicely on to Theo. What a terrific performance from the other representative from N5.
Most apparent to me was the effect he had on the home fans. Every time he received the ball, there was a very audible roar of expectation, and Theo rarely failed to live up to the crowds’ lofty expectation. The usual electric pace and dynamic acceleration found him time and again flying past the defenders, and the quality of his cut backs was invariably top notch. (Oh the advantages of not playing with a big ‘un in the middle and the temptation to hoof the thing). By the way, Giroud is more effective with ball to feet J
Invariably, the inclusion of Arsenal players in International fixtures fills me with loathing and dread for the fear of injury and fatigue. However, I cannot see anything beyond the benefits their performances last night will bring to their confidence and stature in the game. The knowledge that they can compete, shine and star amongst such lofty company can only be a good thing.
Written by MickyDidIt