With the possibility of only winning the Premier League this season, that too only a remote chance if Leicester City and Tottenham Hotspur drop points and we win all of the remaining games.
The players go into the last International break of the season with the objective of not getting injured, gaining ample confidence and bringing in the winning mentality into the side. Around ten Arsenal players represent their National teams this International break excluding the likes of Aaron Ramsey (Wales), Petr Cech & Tomas Rosicky (Czech Republic), Santi Cazorla (Spain) and Jack Wilshere & Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (England) who are all out injured.
Theo Walcott & Danny Welbeck (England), Laurent Koscielny & Olivier Giroud (France), Mesut Ozil (Germany), David Ospina (Colombia), Alexis Sanchez (Chile), Joel Campbell (Costa Rica), Mohamed Elneny (Egypt) and Alex Iwobi (Nigeria) are the Arsenal players who will be on International duty the coming week and a half.
England played Germany away at Berlin yesterday and play Netherlands on the 29th (Tuesday) at home. Danny Welbeck featured against the Germans and is expected to do the same on Tuesday. However, Theo Walcott had received a dead leg in training yesterday and is in doubt for the Germany clash. Theo being one of Roy Hodgson’s favourite players was expected to start at least one of the two friendlies and feature in both. Theo being out of form recently would have benefitted big time by playing in these two friendlies. Unfortunately, for him, the injury love story continues.
Meanwhile, France played Netherlands away yesterday and the Les Blues beat the Dutch 3-2 in a convincing manner. Olivier Giroud scored the 2nd goal for France in the 13th minute and was substituted in the 73rd minute in an eventful game for him and Laurent Koscielny played the entire duration of the game alongside Raphael Varane. The French side next take on Russia on the 29th. Koscielny looks set to be France’s main CB for the Euros and with Benzema suspended indefinitely Giroud looks set to lead the attack for Didier Deschamps at the Euros at home come June.
Mesut Ozil is the only other European representing his country in International friendlies. Germany played England today at Berlin and will play Italy at home as well on the 29th. Ozil being in form would be Germany’s secret weapon come June at the Euros. Except for the UEFA nations all other football regions play either World cup qualifiers or other qualifiers in this International break.
In Africa, the teams are fighting for a spot in the 2017 African cup of nations (AFCON) and interestingly, Mohamed Elneny’s Egypt side take on Alex Iwobi’s Nigeria side over two legs in group G of the AFCON qualifiers this International break. The first leg ended yesterday in a 1-1 draw. Elneny played the entire duration of the match while Alex Iwobi had a 10-minute appearance as an 82nd-minute substitute. The two teams again face off in the 2nd leg on the 29th. Egypt and Nigeria are currently the top two in their group and will be fighting hard to be at the top.
David Ospina and Alexis Sanchez are part of the South American FIFA world cup 2018 qualifiers with Colombia and Chile respectively. Colombia beat Bolivia 3-2 away the day before yesterday where Ospina had played the full 90 minutes and Chile lost 1-2 at home to Argentina yesterday where Sanchez played the full 90 minutes. Chile and Colombia currently sit 6th and 7th in the 10 team WC qualifiers and face Venezuela (away) and Ecuador (home) respectively on the 29th. Both Ospina and Sanchez would be hoping to guide their teams to victories as only the top five teams directly advance to the 2018 FIF WC in Russia.
Last but not the least our Costa Rican winger Joel Campbell who has been in top form of late had produced yet another stunning performance in Costa Rica’s 1-1 draw with Jamaica in the North & Central American FIFA WC 2018 qualifiers yesterday. He bagged an assist and kept threatening the Jamaican defense throughout the game thus continuing his good form from Arsenal. He was substituted in the 89th minute. Costa Rica again takes on Jamaica in the 2nd leg of the qualifiers. With Costa Rica on top of Group B in the qualifiers, Campbell would be raring to guide Costa Rica to the 2018 WC in Russia after an impressive quarterfinal surge in the 2014 WC in Brazil.
May all the gunners do well in the International break and bring in the winning intent into the team as we look to win all our remaining games in the Premier League this season and win the title after a long gap of 12 years. Let us hope that none of our players get injured in the process and all our injured players return sooner than later and guide us to glory.