Wednesday 1 July 2015

Arsenal players on verge of final

If you're interested in ladies football, read on. If not, you should take a peek at midnight tonight when England (including a number of Arsenal players) take on Japan in the second World Cup 2015 semi-final in Canada.

England go into the game as underdogs, as Japan's passing game saw them crowned world champions last time around for good reason.

None of England's Arsenal contingent has particularly caught my eye in this tournament, to be honest, as the headlines have been stolen by Jodie Taylor of Portland Thorns and Reading's Fran Kirby.

Talking of eye, Arsenal's Siobhan Chamberlain looked solid in goal when she replaced Karen Bardsley against the hosts; Bardsley had suffered an allergic reaction earlier and left the field with swollen eyes. Will Chamberlain be back tonight? We'll have to wait and see.

Meanwhile, look out for Casey Stoney, Lianne Sanderson, Alex Scott and Jordan Nobbs, who make up the rest of the Arsenal mob.

However, a first World Cup final for England since 1966 seems unlikely given the quality of the opposition. The World Cup holders can boast the likes of Shinobu Ohno and Yukari Kinga in their ranks, who both won FA Cup medals in England with Arsenal.

As regards Ohno, her movement off the ball is effective at this level, but fans in Japan think she doesn't score enough. A touch of the Olivier Girouds, methinks! She was subbed in the last game and her replacement, Mana Iwabuchi, got the winner, so perhaps Ohno will be benched alongside Kinga.

Another Japanese player with an English connection is Yuki Ogimi (formerly of Chelsea), who is often referred to as 'Oh Jimmy' by ignorant BBC commentators who don't know how to pronounce a hard 'g'. It's like 'git', you 'got' it?

Also a victim of a lack of BBC research is Japan's skipper, Aya Miyama. For some reason, the BBC have decided she should be called 'My am ah'. It sounds a bit like a Cockney on a building site reminding a colleague whose tool he's accidentally picked up: 'Oi mate, that's my 'ammer'. Of course, it should be pronounced 'me' instead of 'my' at the start. Somebody tell the BBC please, as I don't think they can hear me shouting 'me' at the TV. Still, they fixed 'Oh Jimmy' recently (no pun in poor taste intended), so surely they can do the same with Miyama.

Finally, I have to mention Japan's number 9, Nahomi Kawasumi. She is known as the 'roadrunner' given the amount of grass she covers in a game. As well as that, she's a pass master, or should that be 'pass mistress'? Anyway, she's a talent that I wish could be allowed to play in men's football.

Additionally, Rumi Utsugi of Montpellier always puts in a good shift. She protects the back four a bit like Francis Coquelin and should be commended for her discipline.

Aya Sameshima, wearing the number 5, is also one to watch. Despite the number on her back, don't be surprised to see her making runs down the left; England need to be alert to the danger she poses.

Ayumi Kaihori in goal is likely to stay calm, at the other end, although she made an horrendous howler in a recent Japan game.

All in all, I'm expecting a tight game. Arsenal legend Rachel Yankee scored for England last time they played Japan in a 2-0 win. This time I think it will be settled by a single goal or go to penalties, but if you force me to pick a winner I'm going for Japan.

Regardless of the result, I advise you to watch this game; for entertainment value, you won't regret it.

Sent from my iPhone

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