Euro 2008 starts in five days and although Australia obviously won’t be featuring I have to say I’m getting pretty excited. I’ve got my Setanta Sports subscription all sorted and I’m looking forward to a multitude of late nights/early mornings over the next few weeks. Hopefully the quality of the football makes it all worthwhile.
A number of the Arsenal boys will be featuring at Euro 2008 but – being a follower of the Dutch national team – the one player that I’m looking forward to watching above all else is Robin van Persie. The Arsenal striker revealed today that he is fighting fit and ready to play, despite the fact that Dutch manager Marco van Basten will avoid rushing him back into action and risking a recurrence of his thigh injury.
“I am super fit. But coach Marco van Basten does not want to take any risks. I have been so unlucky this season with injuries. But I can sprint, I can shoot, I can do the lot. And I am bursting to produce some really good football in the Euros.”
There are plenty of Arsenal supporters who will be happy to hear both that van Persie is fit and that van Basten is wanting to avoid rushing him back into the side. Indeed, van Persie did not even feature in Holland’s 2-0 win over Wales so it seems that van Basten might actually stick to his word. Regardless of when he features though, van Persie is set to have an impact for his country and I’m very interested to see how he performs.
One player who can count himself unlucky to be missing out on Euro 2008 – and no, I’m not referring to Mathieu Flamini – is Eduardo. However, the Croatian – who of course broke his leg against Birmingham during last season – revealed some amazing news over the weekend regarding his injury. According to reports from Eduardo’s doctor the Croatian’s recovery is going far better than expected and he could be back playing as early as July.
“I am returning to Europe from Brazil at the beginning of August, perhaps even the end of July. Doctors tell me by then I will be fully recovered and able to play football again. I’m feeling well and my rehabilitation is going better than I would ever have hoped.”
Whether he returns in July or August or even October you have to say that this is pretty phenomenal news, especially when you consider that the initial prognosis suggested Eduardo may have been out for up to 15 months. It’s a real shame that Croatian will be missing Euro 2008 because I really felt he was shot at the Golden Boot but from an Arsenal perspective it’s a pretty good outcome.
Moving on now and Arsene Wenger has been in a particularly creative mood, coming up with an idea to potentially overcome the increasingly defensive nature of football in England. The manager has suggested a bonus-point system which would reward goal difference more heavily than the current system.
“I can see a system working whereby the difference between goals scored and conceded earns you extra points. It would stop a team who was leading one or two nil from sitting on their lead.”
It’s certainly an interesting idea and one which I think deserves some consideration. Obviously there would need to be some sort of parameters – thumping Derby 8-0 should not be worth more than beating Aston Villa 2-0 – but I do think some sort of bonus-point system could promote attacking football.
There will probably be a section of the media that comes out and says that Wenger is just having a cry and that the only reason he has suggested the system is because it would favour his side. However, when you look at last season it’s clear that Manchester United’s superior goal difference would have meant an even bigger margin of victory at the top of the league, so that perspective doesn’t really hold. As such, it’s clear to me that Wenger is just looking out for the good of the game.
Before I go today I want to speak about a very cool new website that I have been supporting called Pikum! It’s a great new social betting game that you can play for fun or money and this blog has been personally invited to support by the creator of the website, Sean.
Instructions for how to play it are on the Pikum! website and I encourage you to check it out but basically what you do is enter by making guess on what will happen in future events, such as Euro 2008 or the English Premiership. You compete against the public for fun or real money and can set up your own private games if you choose to see who is the best at picking various results. For example, I have set up a couple of Pikum’s of my own to do with picking the results for the first round of fixtures at Euro 2008.
It’s a pretty addictive site once you get the hang of it and as I said I’d encourage you to check it out. There will also be a widget running on the right-hand side of this blog throughout the Euro 2008 tournament and beyond to let you all know about the games that I am hosting on the website so all the readers of the blog can compete against each other to see who knows best.
And that, as they say, is that. Try and enjoy yourselves.
Have your say on Wenger’s idea, van Persie, Eduardo or let me know what you think about Pikum! by leaving a comment.