A Quick Preview of Gunners on International Duty
Sadly, it’s that time of the season where footballers around the globe hearken to FIFA’s call as they travel to every corner of the world representing their nations in vital qualifiers that would play a role in next summer’s soccer fiesta in Brazil. Arsenal like every good European team out there, has its fair share of ambassadors that are going to represent their nations in a series of qualifiers/friendlies and we can only hope that these players will come back unscathed from tonight’s set of fixtures.
Starting with England, Jack Wilshere and Kieran Gibbs (that replaced Ashley Cole) have been called up to play two vital fixtures against Montenegro and Poland. Wilshere has been on the spotlight recently after his comments about English players playing for the national side and many journos and tabloids alike have preyed on his quotes like the vultures they are. However, his national team manager, Roy Hodgson, has stuck up for him and he says that Wilshere’s performance will not be affected amid the controversy surrounding him.
Wilshere has always been the “poster boy” of English football and the hype surrounding him following his breakthrough campaign in 2011 but things aren’t exactly going on very well for him at the moment and as Arseblog’s Andrew Mangan stated in his brilliant piece on ESPN, we have to be patient with Jackie boy.
England leads their group narrowly with 16 points with Ukraine and Montenegro sharing 15 points each. Poland (that called up Wojciech Szczesny and Lukasz Fabianski) isn’t far off with 13 points so it’s going to be a nail-biting end in this group.
Elsewhere, Arsenal’s French contingent will be on show yet again as in-form striker, Olivier Giroud and Laurent Koscielny have been called up for France’s friendly against Australia and final qualifying fixture against Finland. France are currently level on 14 points with Spain that has played a game less but with Les Bleus five points clear of Finland, they are assured of a playoff place at least. Many fans are advocating for Giroud to start ahead of Karim Benzema though.
Arsenal’s skipper, Thomas Vermaelen, was called up by Belgium ahead of their qualifiers against Croatia and Aaron Ramsey’s Wales. Unlike the Welsh national side that are currently at the bottom of their group, the Belgians need to get any points off the Croats to seal their qualification to the World Cup as they are five points clear of Croatia with two games left. While Aaron Ramsey is enjoying the best form of his career, the games are hardly coming by for Vermaelen and I’m sure he must be utterly disappointed watching from the dugout every week.
Nacho Monreal has been called up for Spain’s qualifiers against Belarus and Georgia. The fullback arrived last winter and pushed Gibbs all the way as they battled for the left back slot but this season, Gibbs has been clearly favored ahead of the Spaniard and he has had to settle for bit part roles, till he started his first game in the Capital One Cup.
The World’s Best Striker, Nicklas Bendtner, will be bracing himself up to take on Italy and Malta but it’s going to be a hard affair for the Danes as they are currently eight points behind the Azzurri. However, the Danes are currently fighting for a playoff place alongside Bulgaria and will be hopeful that they would secure the spot.
Finally, Mesut Ozil and Per Mertesacker have been called up to the German national team to take on Ireland and Sweden. The Germans have won seven out of eight games in the group but their only draw came from an amazing game of football against the Swedes as Ibrahimovic inspired his team from 4-0 down to end the game at 4-4. I believe that the Germans will be itching to exact some revenge and that would be one to watch.
With no Premier League football to watch this weekend, I would engage myself in tonight’s fixtures, flipping through different channels till I catch some sleep. A review of the Gunners on international duty will come up in tomorrow’s post.
Let’s hope that the gods of injuries won’t see any of our players tonight.
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