Thoughts on the International Break from an Arsenal Perspective
There’s a bittersweet feel about this set of international fixtures. Arsenal has been in smoking hot form and besides the blips against Tottenham (away) and Monaco (home), the Gunners have recorded wins in such a mean streak. The Gunners had played three away games in their last four outings and they all recorded victories and as expected, the momentum is with the players.
Then the international break arrives. While some nations are playing the qualifying fixtures for the next European Championships in 2016, others are engaging themselves in some rather ‘meaningless’ friendlies. Arsenal, like many European juggernauts out there, has its own contingent that have been called up to represent their nations and the official site published a list of players that would be travelling all around the globe to represent their motherlands.
Danny Welbeck, Kieran Gibbs and Theo Walcott have been called up by Roy Hodgson for the qualifier against Lithuania and a friendly against Italy. Walcott and Gibbs having gotten as much game time as they’d have liked in recent weeks and will be hoping to feature for their nation. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain would have been called up but he’s still suffering from a hamstring injury. Calum Chambers was not called up at all, so he could use this period to get some rest and recharge his batteries. For a player that had not played much football in his career (broke into the Southampton first team just last season), Chambers featured heavily in the early parts of the season and did well. However, his form dipped as the campaign progressed but we have to cut the lad some slack because he still has a lot to learn at Arsenal. People tend to forget that he’s just 19.
Wojciech Szczesny has been called up for Poland’s qualifier against Ireland. Since the turn of the year, Szczesny has lost his place in the first team to David Ospina and he has been restricted to just FA Cup matches against Middlesbrough and Manchester United. Since Ospina became the custodian between the sticks, Arsenal’s defense has considerably improved but this article by 7am Kick Off suggests that Coquelin has been the key to that success.
Speaking of the Coq, he wasn’t called up by France (his teammates Olivier Giroud and Laurent Koscielny were called up) for the friendlies between Brazil and Denmark despite his remarkable run of form. He has played 21 games since December and fatigue was beginning to take its toll on the lad as we saw in the Newcastle game. Then of course, there’s the broken nose he has been playing with so this international break would give Coquelin some time to rest as he’d be vital in the team’s surge for a strong finish in the Premier League.
His teammate, Aaron Ramsey, recently stated that Coquelin keeps the midfield ticking over,
“He’s been really good. He’s very aggressive and doesn’t give the opposition much time on the ball, and that’s why he wins so many tackles. Then he wins the ball and makes us tick over.
“It’s been really good to see his development this year, he’s had a superb couple of months now so hopefully he can continue that.
“It is quite comforting knowing that one of the midfielders is behind you in position, thinking more defensively. It is something that he does really well.”
Elsewhere, the new kid on the block, Gabriel Paulista, has impressed Dunga enough to receive a call up for the games against France and Chile. The Brazilian did really well to recover from that hamstring string and he put up a virtuoso performance against Newcastle. The ageless Czech maestro, Tomas Rosicky, was called up for the games against Latvia and Slovakia, Ospina would hope to keep clean sheets against Bahrain and Kuwait, Ramsey would take on Israel, Santi Cazorla takes on Ukraine and Holland. Mesut Ozil plays Australia and Georgia and Alexis Sanchez would play Brazil.
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