Arsenal’s International Round-Up: How The Gunners Got On
As the two-week international break draw to a close on Tuesday night, Gooner Daily looks at how Arsenal’s contingent got on for their respective nations.
As the international break drew to a close last night, Arsenal blogger Gooner Daily looks at how Arsenal’s contingent got on for their respective nations.
Yesterday night saw the last set of World Cup qualifiers take place as many teams fought tooth and nail to earn the right to be on a plane to Rio. There were also some teams that used the period to play some friendly games with other nations with nothing at stake.
Arsenal, like every other top European football club, had its own contingent that represented their respective nations in a series of qualifiers and friendly games and this article is focused on throwing some light on their performances as well as the general outcome of the results for that nation.
Starting with the friendlies, England were looking to bounce back from their home disappointment against an Alexis Sanchez-inspired Chile as they hosted proverbial rivals, Germany, at Wembley. With more high-octane games ongoing at the same period, I had half an eye on this fixture but the key moment of the game arrived in the second half as Germany’s captain of the night and Arsenal regular, Per Mertesacker, rose the highest against the likes of Chris Smalling and Tom Cleverley to head home a perfectly-timed cross to hand England their second consecutive home defeat in 36 years.
It’s also worth noting in this friendly game that Mesut Ozil had deserved rest while Jack Wilshere and Kieran Gibbs made second-half sub appearances for England.
Elsewhere, Thomas Vermaelen and his high-flying Belgium side also suffered another shock home defeat following the loss to Colombia against the Blue Samurais of Japan. The Verm played the full 90 minutes but his team ended up losing 3-2 to an impressive Japan outfit.
Everton’s Kevin Mirallas opened the scoring for the home side but the lead was cancelled by Kakatani’s equalizer. CSKA Moscow’s midfield maestro, Keisuke Honda, made it 2-1 and the Japs extended their lead through Shinji Okazaki. All the home side could do was to muster a late goal from Atletico’s Toby Alderweireld.
Santi Cazorla and Nacho Monreal were also involved in Spain’s stunning loss to South Africa – Santi was a second-half substitute while Nacho played the full game. The only goal of the game came through Bernard Parker but there was a moment of controversy when Spain wanted to bring Pepe Reina into the fray after they had made six substitutions already. It caused a bit of a racked and tempers were flared.
Goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny also got 90 minutes under his belt as Poland were held to a boring 0-0 draw by Martin O’Neil’s Republic of Ireland.
At Under-21 level, Carl Jenkinson played all 90 minutes and even got on the score-sheet as England Under 21’s thrashed San Marino 9-0. Youngsters like Raheem Sterling, James Ward-Prowse, Thomas Ince, William Keane and Will Hughes enjoyed some target practice as the floodgates opened with consummate ease.
Moving over to more serious business, Olivier Giroud and Bacary Sagna watched from the dugout as France achieved an historic feat of coming back from a 2-0 deficit to beat Ukraine with goals from an unlikely source, Mamadou Sakho, as well as an offside strike from Kazim Benzema.
From the onset the French team launched waves upon waves of attacks as the wing play from Franck Ribery on the left and Mathieu Valbuena from the right was too much for the visitors to handle. In midfield, Yohan Cabaye put in a good show and there was time for Giroud and Sagna to get in on the act as they replaced Matt Debuchy and Benzema respectively.
Giroud’s aerial prowess was on show yet again as he almost got himself a goal. Nerves tingled towards the end as a goal from Ukraine would have dashed France’s hopes but it was not to be and the wild celebrations afterwards showed how much qualification to the World Cup meant to the manager, players and fans alike.
With the international break done and dusted, it’s time to focus on the business ahead as the Gunners host a resurgent Southampton side that have over achieved this season.
At least it looks like the Arsenal boys came through the international break relatively unscathed.
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