Quick bit of Admin to start with. It appears that Robin van Persie has requested to change his squad number for the upcoming season. If you’ve pre-ordered the new kit, either home or away, your order will be held for shipping until the number change is finalized according to Arsenal.com. You can get the details here. I don’t know if the rumors are true that he’ll take the hallowed #10, but it looks like he’s casting off the #11 shirt.
As we’re all eagerly awaiting the official word on Laurent Koscielny, whether you’re a smiling cookie or a frowny-face about the signing, well…we’re still waiting. It does appear as if the deal is completed though as Koscielny’s previous side, Lorient, have already snagged a replacement for him and made that official announcement on their website. Also, according to our very good friends over at Young Guns, Koscielny has even had a bit of a leg stretch with the Arsenal Youth lads. So, my hunch is we should hear something definitive soon from the dot.com on Mr. Koscielny.
Lastly, you’re probably already aware of this, but do mark the calendar for Arsenal’s opening preseason friendly at Barnet on the 17th. With Nicklas Bendtner still nursing his hammy, we might see a good bit of new man Marouane Chamakh on the day.
Right. Nibbly bits out of the way then.
The Netherlands v Uruguay for a trip to the Finals of the 2010 World Cup. First off, I feel bad for Diego Forlan. He has singlehandedly carried Uruguay in this tournament and played brilliantly. Secondly, given the way Uruguay got to the Semis to begin with, and the fact that I am HUP! HUP! for the Netherlands, I’m pleased to see Uruguay go out. Ex-Arsenal man Gio van Bronckhorst opened the Dutch account on 18 minutes with an absolute rocket from about 25 yards out. The run of play had stalled somewhat before van Bronckhorst let loose with his left-footed screamer that beat the Uruguayan keeper high to the right corner. Startling strike, really. The Oranje had the better of possession and the sharper tests on Uruguay’s net over the first half, but the pesky South Americans were not to be shorn so easily. Uruguayan Superman Diego Forlan dug into his bag of magical shots once again on 41 minutes and, in almost a replay of the van Bronckhorst goal, let go with a missile from about 25 yards out. Forlan fired from the top of the box, a left-footed strike that had Dutch keeper Maarten Stekelenburg straining to get a finger on it as it sailed high into the net.
Coming into the second half tied at 1, both sides continued to press their respective attacks. While the Netherlands’ attack was more prominent, Uruguay kept up the promise of scoring as well. It was back and forth, with the Dutch having more sustained pressure and Uruguay settling for more one-off chances. Wesley Sneijder put the Dutch ahead on 70 minutes when he took control of the ball just inside left of the box, made a quick change over to his right foot and slotted home a deflected ball past a diving Fernando Muslera. There was some question about van Persie being offside or causing interference, but the replay shows he was even with the last man and wasn’t hindering the keeper. Arjen Robben appeared to put paid to the match just a few minutes later with a tidy header off a volley from Dirk Kuyt. But yet again, Uruguay would not go quietly into the night. They launched a spirited response, culminating in a Maximiliano Pereira well placed curler on 90+2 to make it 3-2 at the close. Uruguay kept fighting for the tying goal, but it would not come.
RVP Again Quiet As Dutch Secure Finals Berth
Call me a conspiracy theorist if you will, but I think something is up in the Dutch locker room. Something has been agreed to keep the ball away from our man Robin and prevent him from being a productive member of the Oranje attack. For the second straight match the stat line is woeful: No shots on goal, no shots. The run of play just doesn’t move through him, he’s rarely been part of the buildup and the wide men aren’t seeking to get him the ball too often. I could have written this at the beginning of the tournament and used the same paragraph for every match, so consistent has the dearth of opportunity been for van Persie. Today was no different as the connections again didn’t materialize. When the Arsenal striker went central, the run of play went wide and Robben was the recipient. When RVP went wide, Kuyt and Robben looked for Sneijder. When Robben or Sneijder pushed forward centrally, van Persie was forced farther forward into the box and possession was often kept outside the area. I’m probably grasping at straws here to explain why my favorite Arsenal player hasn’t produced much as yet, but seriously, I am right at this moment watching today’s match for the 3rd time and it does look like RVP is being frozen out a bit. My hope is the Dutch have been planning all along to keep van Persie champing at the bit only to unleash him in the Finals. 🙂
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