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Arsenal International Round-up: RVP Misfires | Szczesny Disappointed | Ramsey Stroll

Already, just a month after the last, another interlull is upon us. A frustrating time for most football fans at the best of times, this impediment to the domestic calendar is an especially galling period, due to the fact that the majority of European teams are simply playing friendlies; only a handful have key EURO 2012 play-off games. However, for many players, especially those around the fringes of their national team’s squad, it is an exciting opportunity to be able to represent their country and stake a claim for a regular starting place.

Wojciech Szczesny:

The Pole was picked ahead of Arsenal teammate Lukasz Fabianski to start in goal in a tough game against Italy. After being thwarted by Szczesny just seconds before, in-form Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli fired a shot from nearly 30 yards out past Arsenal’s number 13. It was an excellent strike, but Szczesny will likely feel he could have done better; the ball was far from the corner when it nestled in the back of the net. After being denied repeatedly by the Polish keeper, Italy doubled their lead on the hour; a Balotelli cross opened up The White Eagles’ defence and Pazzini finished neatly from close range. This shot went through Szczesny’s legs, but there was little he could do as he was hopelessly exposed by his defence.

Laurent Koscielny:

The defender made his debut for France as they won 1-0 at home against the USA. France lived up to their billing as favourites and were in control for the majority of the game; this left Koscielny, who was playing with two other debutants in defence, with little to do. Substitute Remy scored the only goal after being played through by an excellent Marvin Martin pass. Another notable starter was Brek Shea; the American joined Arsenal during the week to train with the first team and the reserves during the MLS off-season.

Johan Djourou and Robin Van Persie:

The two went head to head as the Netherlands faced Switzerland in a friendly at the Amsterdam ArenA. The Netherlands opened up the opposition time and again and only numerous saves from Swiss keeper Benaglio kept out the Dutchmen. However, Switzerland also attacked with intent but poor finishing prevented Stekelenburg from being tested in the same manner as Benaglio. Arsenal captain Van Persie came close with a number of shots, also pulling a shot wide when one-on-one with the keeper after Djourou had slipped. Surprisingly for a game that finished 0-0, neither defence covered themselves in glory and if not for poor finishing and excellent keeping, it could have been a high scoring encounter.

Tomas Rosicky:

The Czech captain lead his team to a 2-0 victory in the first leg of their EURO 2012 play-off tie with Montenegro. His side were in control for much of the first half but were unable to turn their chances into goals. Petr Cech was forced into a couple of saves as Montenegro came back into the game, but it was the Czechs who took the lead just after the hour; Vaclav Pilar with a piledriver from 25 yards, giving Bozovic in the Montenegro goal no chance.  They then doubled their lead in stoppage time when Rosicky whipped in an excellent free kick which was headed in by Sivok, giving the Czechs a comfortable lead going into the second leg.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain:

’The Ox’ played the full 90 minutes as Stuart Pearce’s men remain on track to qualify for the 2013 European Under 21s Championship. Chamberlain got in early on, winning the ball off of an Icelandic defender in the penalty area, but his gorgeous chip from an impossibly acute angle ran across the face of goal. Excellent work from Chamberlain to spin and play through McEachran was thwarted when the Chelsea man’s cross was cut out by the defender. Sordell then got the opener and this was followed by second half goals from Martin Kelly and Craig Dawson. Chamberlain went through a again, but was unable to finish after rounding the keeper. He then cut inside from the right but was again denied his goal as the keeper tipped his powerful shot over. Two injury-time goals from Gary Gardner, including a magnificent free-kick, rounded off the comfortable thrashing of Iceland.

Andrei Arshavin:

The Russian captained his side away in Greece, a country in which football is currently the least of their concerns. The Russians took the lead after just 2 minutes; Dzagoev played through Shirokov whose deflected shot looped over Tzorvas. However, from that moment on Greece were the better team and could have been in front at the break; Samaras had a goal ruled out for a foul on Anyukov and Salpingidis also had one chalked out for offside. The home side did finally equalise as Katsouranis headed home on the hour – this goal looked like it could have been ruled out as well after Zhirkov appeared to be pushed in the build up. The game finished 1-1 while Arshavin had a quiet game, as did much of the rest of his team.

Park Ju-Young:

The Striker also captained his side as they came through to win 2-0 away against a battling UAE side. The UAE looked to have won a hard earned point, but in the 88th minute substitute Lee Keun-Ho tapped in at the far post to earn the South Koreans another win. Park then followed up with the second goal, also tapping in from six yards. The win takes Korea to top of their group for 2014 World Cup qualification with 10 points from 4 games, whilst the UAE are all but out already with only 1 point from their 4 games.

Nicklas Bendtner:

The on-loan Dane scored as his side won 2-0 at home against rivals Sweden. The Sunderland striker slotted home after finding acres of space in the middle of the penalty box. Bajrami nearly equalised for the Swedes, but his little chip trickled against the post. Denark secured the win 10 minutes from the end; Krohn-Delhi latched on to a Jacobsen ball and finished calmly past Wiland. This result continues the Dane’s good form; they recently beat Portugal to top their EURO 2012 qualification group, forcing the Portuguese to face Bosnia and Herzegovina in a play-off.

Joel Campbell:

The striker played the final 21 minutes as his Costa Rica side lost 2-0 away to Panama. Two first half goals were enough to secure Panama’s victory; Gomez cheekily chipped his penalty past Navas, before Perez scored the second just two minutes later. Costa Rica’s flow, and with it their chance to get back into the game, was broken up in the second half as their coach made 6 substitutions in all, taking advantage of the friendly to look at a variety of options.

Theo Walcott:

The 22 year old play the first half in England’s 1-0 victory at home to World and European Champions Spain at a lively Wembley Stadium. In a half where England mustered few attacks Walcott rarely saw the ball and spent more time helping out right-back Glen Johnson than getting at the Spanish defence. The winger did have a couple of runs on the break, but both times was brought down just inside the Spanish half, although he was only awarded a free kick for one of them. Walcott was then substituted at half time and four minutes later came the only goal of the game; Milner crossed in a free kick, Bent headed against the post and Lampard nodded in the rebound from inside the 6 yard box. England defended stoutly, although former Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas should have equalised late on.

Alex Song:

The Cameroonian started as his side faced Sudan in the LG friendly cup. Sudan battled well but it was Cameron who took the lead; Enoh eventually headed home after the ball rebounded off the crossbar, keeper then the post before falling to the midfielder. Angbwa followed up with the second five minutes later but Sudan were offered a lifeline in the 74th minute when Tahir converted the penalty after a Sudanese forward was tripped. However Eto’o secured the win 9 minutes from time in a victory that might appease some of the Cameroon fans, after their side failed to qualify for the 2012 African Cup of Nations.

Francis Coquelin:

The midfielder played the full 90 as France won 3-0 at home to Romania in an under 21 match. Cabella, Lacazette and Corchia scored for a French side that also included former Gunner Giles Sunu.

Aaron Ramsey:

The midfielder captained Wales to a 4-1 victory at home to Norway. Gareth Bale opened the scoring after 11 minutes with a Van Persie-esque finish from a tight angle. Bellamy doubled the lead five minutes later with an excellent finish. Noway pulled one back on the hour after Hennessey spilled the ball against his own defender, leaving an empty net for Huseklepp to tap home. Two late goals from Sam Vokes flattered the home side, but it continues Wales’ good run of form and suggests they may stand a hope of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup.


The pacey forward started for Ivory Coast in their 1-1 draw in South Africa – as I’m sure we all remember from the 2010 World Cup, the game was greeted by a cacophony of noise provided by the thousands of Vuvuzelas being played. A Gaxa own-goal gave The Elephants the lead in the first half; the defender headed into his own net under pressure from the Arsenal man. However a Mphela free kick early in the second half pulled Bafana Bafana level. Despite further chances for both sides, neither team managed another goal as their performances dropped in quality near the end of the game, as tends to happen in most friendlies.

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