I had the pleasure of celebrating my first ever Father’s day as a Dad this week. A hugely special occasion for me and one that I’ll never forget. It’s a tremendous feeling and one I just felt the need to share for a few sentences. My Dad and I have always been Gooners but funnily enough it was myself that had got him into The Arsenal rather than the other way around. My uncle was and always has been a huge Arsenal fan and was a season ticket holder for a number of years. He convinced me that I should be a Gooner in early 1994. We weren’t world beaters at that juncture by any stretch but I still remember that brilliant night in Copenhagen where we came back with a 1-0 win and a trophy. It felt good. No it felt spectacular and that’s where my obsession began. The years that followed were barren until 1998 and we all know what happened there. That’s the point at which my Dad first became a Gooner. He was in the know of everything happening with The Arsenal because I was the one delivering the info, the joy, the angst. We went to a couple of games that season and thankfully brought home the Double. Since then he’s become more on the pessimistic side of the fan base. The Devil’s Advocate to my unwavering optimism, but that’s something that he’s always been like throughout my upbringing. Keeping me grounded. Keeping me honest. And for that I’m grateful. My little one will not have to wait until she’s 8 to be a Gooner as she’ll already be well indoctrinated by then! She does like the TV when it’s on but becomes particularly transfixed when it’s the footie. She has her Arsenal baby grow and all ready to don the full kit we have ready for her. Anyways, onto the football…

Being away at Center Parcs last week I was able to watch a fair few games with plenty of my wife’s family (there were 20 of us!). We obviously planned the activities around the England Wales game in the main but largely saw some fairly decent football over the week. The fun part of the tournament is now well and truly over though as there won’t be any more ‘3 games a day’ days. This is when it all becomes a bit serious and whilst still enjoyable, the number of football matches significantly decreases, which is a sad thing. One of the best games I’ve seen thus far is the Belgium v Italy game, where it was pretty much end to end only for Italy to take advantage and grab a 2-0 win against a much fancied Belgium side. This is an Italy who have been labeled as one of the weakest Italian squads in decades. It was also really good to see England win a game. A last gasp Sturridge goal was needed to beat a pretty poor Wales side. Following on from that you would have expected us to go on and beat Slovakia to top the group and be on the more forgiving side of the draw. Inept finishing and once again an unbalanced midfield selection proved to be the undoing of England. We have Sp*rs fans harping on about how Sturridge and Vardy were no improvement on Kane and Liverpool fans saying that Henderson was class etc etc. It’s becoming so hard for fans to be objective when following the National side now that everything becomes a competition between clubs again. It’s tiring and boring. More importantly it’s all wide off the mark of accuracy. The biggest problem England has had has not been at the back or up top. It’s been with finding the midfield balance. Hodgson has been afraid to drop Rooney in the first 2 games, and when the opportunity arose to ‘rest’ him he picked a ‘safe’ midfield with Dier, Wilshere & Henderson all playing. Far too defensive and cautious in my book and no link between the front men. Wilshere and Henderson kept getting in each other’s way, Wilshere was poor and Henderson was vanilla. He should have tried Dier with Alli as the No.10 and then a box to box midfielder in between them. Of that variety we have Jack Wilshere and Ross Barkley available. Wilshere being the more intelligent footballer would make sense as the choice. Granted he was poor but a lot of the reason why is due to the lack of lateral movement in front of him. Excuses, excuses I know but he’s one of the most talented and technically gifted footballers we have and yet we aren’t utilizing his skills. It’s the same with Vardy, we’ve not seen the best of him as he’s out of position and it’s all been to accommodate ‘names’ rather than play a TEAM that will win games. Anyway, enough moaning about England. Onto The Arsenal…

We finally had some clarity on the Jamie Vardy rumour/offer/saga. I can be happy now that we have said #NoToRacism, although it appears that racism actually said no to us and Wenger’s hunt for a politically incorrect striker continues, as the quite brilliant Arseblog put it. I’ve always been of the opinion that while he would improve our strike force he has been openly racist in the past in the casino incident we all know about and it’s for that reason that I wouldn’t want the likes of him at our great club. We live in an age where fan groups defend such atrocities and always find a way to justify it simply because a player dons ‘their’ shirt. I reacted the same way when the Suarez bid was taking place. ATAFC wasn’t around back then but I still stood by the principles of not wanting anyone racist to be rewarded and adored. Footballers have a duty to behave in an appropriate way due to their status, their position within society and because of how much money they get paid for it. All they have to do is kick a ball around and keep fit, not being racist whilst doing those two things shouldn’t be too difficult. So today I’m a happy man because we won’t be defending a racist because he’s scored a goal or two. This moves us to plan B. Now I think our plan B was probably plan A around January time as there is no way in January that Wenger would have though Jamie Vardy would be at the top of his shopping list. We will have had a target in mind and will go back to focus on that in my opinion, because the Vardy deal was an opportunist one that if it worked, would have been a steal for the caliber of player. Opportunity missed (GET IN!!!). But let’s hope that the initial plan A is still possible as there is still plenty of time left to make a deal happen. It seems that we are looking for pace with a front man coming in and there are a limited number of players available that fit the bill. Morata and Aubameyang are the ones that come to mind but who knows what will happen. I really, really, really hope that Wenger feels indulgent and just goes for it with a front man. The other situation that is in the background and that needs addressing is that of a wide forward. Theo Walcott remains in the void. It feels like he’s unsure, the clubs unsure and any potential buyers are unsure so it is something that really needs resolving, because Lord knows that we won’t buy anyone leaving us in a financially difficult position with Walcott. A lot to happen…

A special note to the Republic of Ireland for overcoming Italy in a brilliant ending to the group stages. Who knew that 24 teams would work? We all thought that it would be boring and that dull games would ensue, well I did anyway. But the 24 team format has worked a treat. The uncertainty of who plays whom has been brilliant. Keeping a track has been confusing but that’s what I’ve liked. Brilliant thus far.

Have a great week folks.

Follow me on Twitter @MiteshLakhani1.


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