Category Archives: International Football

Review of Arsenal Players on International Duty

England player ratings vs Ukraine: Bukayo Saka dazzles as Kyle Walker  dominates Mykhailo Mudryk | Nigeria

I actually had the option of blogging everyday throughout the international break, giving updates of how our lads were faring, but I decided to take a little break, reflect on how the season has panned out so far, and recharge my batteries for what will prove to be one hell of a ride between now and May 2023. 

Without further ado, lets have a look on how our boys fared for their respective nations.


The Starboy, Bukayo Saka, featured heavily in England’s victories over Italy and Ukraine while Aaron Ramsdale stayed on the bench in both games, with Jordon Pickford between the sticks. Saka had a good game in the repeat of the previous Euro 2020 final, with England banishing the ghosts of that painful night. Goals from future Arsenal signing, Declan Rice, and England’s goal predator, Harry Kane, was enough to defeat Roberto Mancini’s side on their home turf. 

Saka was the cream of the crop in the home game against Ukraine, creating a lovely assist for Kane before scoring a peach of a goal as England ran out as 2-0 winners on the day. Saka, who has already achieved talismanic status at Arsenal has also become a growing influence in the England national team.


Granit Xhaka took his goalscoring form to the international scene, scoring and assisting in Switzerland’s 5-0 demolition of Belarus. With five goals already on the scoreboard after 66 minutes, Xhaka earned himself a rest, and ovation from the away crowd when he was substituted for Fabian Rieder. He led the team out in the 3-0 win over Israel, playing 90 minutes and leaving the pitch unscathed.


Leandro Trossard featured for an hour in Belgium’s away victory over Sweden, in a game remembered for the goalscoring exploits of Romelu Lukaku, with the Inter man bagging a hattrick. With Yannick Carrasco and Dodi Lukebaklo playing on the flanks, Trossard played in attacking midfield alongside Kevin de Bruyne to provide support for Lukaku. His versatility has always been one of his strong points and it was on show for his nation.

Trossard came on as a sub in the 58th minute and provided an assist for de Bruyne in Belgium’s 3-2 friendly victory over Germany. It was quite an interesting match with a lot of talent on show, but the Red Devils had enough in the tank to see out the hosts of Euro 2024. 


Thomas Partey was on the news with reports surfacing that Arsenal sent one of the club’s physios to accompany the midfielder to Ghana for their AFCON qualifying clash with Angola. Partey had a great game, dominating the midfield and strutting his stuff, with Ghana winning 1-0. Partey travelled with his teammates to Luanda to take on Angola, but the Ghana gaffer, Chris Hughton, left him on the bench for 90 minutes, despite the fact that his presence was needed in the game that ended in a draw.

When the coach was asked about Partey afterwards,

 “Thomas [Partey] has some small issues. We felt it was too big of a risk to start him [against Angola].”

Hearing this doesn’t fill me with confidence, and the potential exists that we might be without Partey for the home clash against Leeds on Saturday. I can only hope it was precautionary but Arteta’s press conference in the coming days will throw more light on the matter.


Martin Odegaard led his nation out in both clashes against Spain and Georgia. The Viking nation was without their lethal goalscoring machine, Erling Haaland, who was nursing a groin injury, so they had to bank on Alex Sorloth, who had an ineffectual time in front of goal against Spain, despite being presented with good chances. Sorloth made amends, scoring the opening goal against Georgia, but the spoils were shared. 

There was a scary moment for Odegaard when he was scythed down by Rodri in the box, with the Manchester City defensive midfielder stamping on the Arsenal captain’s ankle, but Odegaard shrugged it off and went about his business. I thought that the aftermath of that tackle would see him miss the Georgia game but he coasted through 90 minutes without hassle.


Jorginho played 69 minutes against England and struggled badly in midfield, as Declan Rice, Calvin Philips and Jude Bellingham running circles around him and his partners, Marco Verratti and Nicolo Barella. All three Italian midfielders were replaced in the win over Malta with Sandro Tonali, Matteo Pessina and Bryan Cristante coming into the side.

Jorginho getting a rest in the second game should be beneficial to Arsenal, especially with the fact that we are sweating over the fitness status of Thomas Partey.


Kieran Tierney has found games hard to come by for Arsenal and with the Gunners crashing out of all competitions and all hands on deck for the Premier League, he might spend quite some time playing second fiddle to Oleksandr Zinchenko.

On the international scene, Tierney is an ever present for Scotland and he played 90 minutes as a left center back, with Andrew Robertson playing on the LWB slot in Scotland’s comfortable 3-0 win over Cyprus before playing 76 minutes in the shock win over Spain. Tierney was substituted for Liam Cooper after he got on the end of a disgusting challenge from Rodri – the same Terminator that was sent to take out Sam Connodegaard a few days ago.

Tierney has had his issue with fitness and that has been a challenge this season. I just hope nothing got damaged after the tackle, but we will hear more from the gaffer in the coming days.


Oleksandr Zinchenko played 90 minutes for Ukraine in the loss to England. With Vitaly Mykolenko playing left back, Zinchenko started in central midfield alongside Taras Stepanenko. Zinc in CM is a natural occurrence for the folks at Emirates, and we sure love what he has been doing this season. The fact that he’s a back-to-back winner of the Player of the Month award at the club is a testament of how amazing he has been for Arsenal this season.

With Tierney still having some fitness issues like Takehiro Tomiyasu out injured on the other flank, the Gunners are desperately short in the back and will be hoping for no further injury setbacks.


Jakub Kiwior got his first taste of Premier League football last game week but he played both games for Poland against Czech Republic and Albania. His versatility was on show, as he was a center back alongside Jan Bednarek in the loss to the Czechs, but he played as a left back in the narrow win over Albania with Bednarek playing alongside Bartosz Salamon in the heart of the Polish defense.

Kiwior remains a backup option for Arsenal this season, and if William Saliba isn’t fit enough to start against Leeds, I’d reckon that Rob Holding will get the nod ahead of the Pole.


Matt Turner played both games for the United State in the qualifiers against Granada and El Salvador. Turner is not expected to play any more games between now and the end of the season, unless some form of calamity befalls Aaron Ramsdale.


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International Break: Arsenal Players Review

Nicolas Pepe

Speaking of break, apologies for my brief hiatus on the blog for the entirety of March 2022. I was in an offsite location with internet connectivity as good as Alexandre Lacazette’s goal scoring form, so to a certain degree, you could understand my predicament. My last blog post was focused on Arsenal’s Carabao Cup adventure but the Gunners were on fire in the Premier League, grabbing three wins (Watford, Leicester and Aston Villa) from the four the month had to offer. The only defeat came against the juggernauts from Liverpool, but on another day, the result could have been different, especially with the way Gabriel Martinelli made mince meat out of Trent Alexander-Arnold on a consistent basis. 

As expected from a team with players in such great form, with Bukayo Saka nominated for the EPL Player of the Month, as well as Martinelli’s strike at Watford earning him a nomination for the Goal of the Month, several players were called up to represent their respective nations in crucial world cup qualifiers and friendlies. Without further ado, let’s review the performances of the Arsenal players during the international break.

England – With Aaron Ramsdale still nursing a hip injury and Bukayo Saka withdrawing from the England squad after testing positive to COVID, Ben White and Emile Smith-Rowe were the Arsenal contingent that represented the Three Lions in their friendly victories over Switzerland and Ivory Coast. White played the entire match in the victory of the Swiss, and notched up 45 minutes as a right back in the Ivory Coast game. ESR didn’t feature against Switzerland but notched up 30 or so minutes in the win over Ivory Coast. White has grown from strength to strength following his £50m move from Brighton, and he has turned out to be one of the most consistent performers for the Gunners this season. Glad to see him banking those well-deserved minutes for England in the international break.

Portugal – Cedric Soares was an unused substitute in Portugal’s World Cup qualifying matches against Turkey and Macedonia. He would be elated to qualify for the football fiesta in Qatar but with Diogo Dalot and Joao Cancelo playing ahead of him in both games, his place in his nation’s side has to be under some threat.

Scotland – Kieran Tierney played 180 minutes in Scotland friendly draws against Austria and Poland. Playing as a LCB, Tierney got his first Scotland goal after 31 caps with a textbook header from a delicious John McGinn set piece. Tierney and his lads felt hard done by when the ref awarded a penalty in the 93rd minute when Kyzysztof Piatek was scythed to the ground by the veteran goalie, Craig Gordon. The forward picked up himself and sent the goalie the wrong way to salvage a draw for the Poles. Tierney contributed from an attacking standpoint in the draw against Austria with an assist.

Brazil – Gabriel sat at home, while his younger compatriot, Gabriel Martinelli, received his first call up to the Brazil national team. The maverick came off the bench twice in Brazil’s resounding 4-0 victories over Bolivia and Chile. Despite not getting on the score sheet, Martinelli’s confidence continued to soar as he managed to put up some excellent displays on his cameos.

Switzerland – Swiss captain, Granit Xhaka, played in both friendlies against England (which they lost) and Kosovo (where they shared the spoils). As you’d expect from the cultured midfielder, Xhaka was spraying pass after pass for his nation, and will be satisfied with the displays for his nation.

Egypt – Mohamed Elneny and his Egyptian team mates would really hate the sight of the Senegalese national team. It’s bad enough that Senegal captured the African Cup of Nations crown from the hands of Egypt early in the year, but the Senegalese were at it again, eliminating the Egyptians via the lottery of penalty shootouts. Elneny featured in central midfield in both games and sadly, will miss out on the football mundial come November 2022.

Ghana – Thomas Partey turned out to be the national hero of his nation, as his goal in the Jollof Derby against Nigeria turned out to be pivotal, with the Black Stars of Ghana qualifying ahead of their arch-rivals via the away goals rule. The first leg in Kumasi was a goalless stalemate, with both sides having it all to do in the second leg at Abuja, but it was Partey’s goal with Ghana’s first attempt on target that sent his nation into raptures, as they basked in the euphoria of yet another World Cup qualification.

Norway – Martin Odegaard was in very good form for Norway over the international break, as he scored the match clincher in the 2-0 win over Slovakia in the first of two friendlies the Scandinavian side won. The second game was a whitewash as Odegaard bagged two assists in the 9-0 demolition of Armenia. The Gunners will be hopeful he carries this form to the Premier League ahead of a crunch fixture against Crystal Palace on Monday night.

Belgium – Albert Sambi Lokonga was unused substitute in Belgium’s matches against Ireland (draw) and Burkina Faso (win). The young midfielder has been on the periphery in recent months and would probably remain so bar any injuries or suspensions to the core midfield personnel.

Ivory Coast – Nicolas Pepe featured in both friendly defeats for Ivory Coast against France and England. The club’s record signing, received a routine throw-in from Ibrahim Sangare on the right, skipped past the Hernandez brother’s and smacked one in from Hugo Lloris’ near post. We have always know Pepe is capable of coming up with the goods – the challenge has always been his consistency.

The most important bit of news from the international break is that no Arsenal player received any injuries, as Mikel Arteta will have all his guys for the next 10 ‘cup finals’.


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Taveres, Euros and Wiping the Cobwebs Off this Blog

Nuno Taveres is a name that has been on the lips of Arsenal fans in recent days following the speculation that Arsenal has reached an agreement with Benfica to sign the left back for an initial €8m. This serves as welcome news because the left back position was one that the club struggled with last season when star fullback, Kieran Tierney, got crocked. The Cedric Soares we thought was the versatile messiah on both flanks turned out to be fresh cow dung, so our gaffer, Mikel Arteta, in his infinite wisdom, deemed it a wise decision to shunt Granit Xhaka to the left back slot, creating a void in central midfield that could not be filled by Mo Elneny or the departed Dani Ceballos.

What’s with Granit Xhaka these days? Latest gist on the block is that he has all but confirmed his Arsenal exit with AS Roma being the final destination for the Swiss deep lying playmaker. Good luck to him with his new adventures though.

Going back to Taveres – I don’t know much of the kid minus the few glimpses here and there but I am happy with the fact that we are actually gonna sign a young, energetic left back, in his natural position, instead of those square pegs, you know, like Cedric and Xhaka, that we tried to fit in round holes. On the down side, Sead Kolasinac is back at the club following the disastrous spell he and Skhodran Mustafi endured at Schalke 04 last season. I would expect that we cash in on the Bosnian, and I’m sure there will be a couple of Bundesliga sides that wouldn’t mind taking a punt at the Hulk.

With Taveres understudying Tierney, as well as getting well deserved run out in the Cup competitions (sadly no Europa), the burden on the Scotsman would be eased, as its very evident that he’s one of our most influential, talented and important players in the team. 

Moving over to the ongoing European Championships, the Arsenal presence was quite appalling with only four Gunners – Bukayo Saka, Granit Xhaka, Kieran Tierney and Bernd Leno getting call ups. While Xhaka remains an indispensable member of the Swiss side, as well as being fit enough to feature in every game so far for his side, Tierney has struggled with fitness issues and couldn’t help his Tartan Army side that crashed out of the group stages. Bukayo Saka, on the other hand, started at the doldrums of the England side before getting an influential role for his team. With Germany having a legendary goalie like Manuel Neuer between the sticks, Leno had no choice but to remain on the bench for the entirety of the tournament.

Lastly, its worth noting that the last post on this blog was in mid-January, and consistency hasn’t been one of my strong points in recent seasons due to other commitments elsewhere but I love writing about my darling Arsenal and thankfully, I will be having some support this season. The cobwebs are well and truly out, and it’s gonna be a fun campaign from us here at Gooner Daily. 11 years on, and I’d continue to serve you with your daily Arsenal digest. 


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