05 March 2014

Gunners take on the world: Interlullian edition

Arsenal carries a double-edged sword into this round of international friendlies, which, despite their name, carry a bit more of an edge to them as it is the last chance for managers to assess their needs and the players who will fit in ahead of the trip to Brazil. For as much as we may hope that various Gunners will get rested, the unfortunate reality is that many of them will take to the pitch this week, complicating our preparations for Saturday's FA Cup clash with Everton. Everton, it's worth noting, face far-fewer worries about the interlull than do we. Such is the burden of carrying so much class around, I suppose. I went to their team-site to compile a contrasting list, but, to be honest, it's a bit of mess. Pity. We can assume that players like Baines and Lukaku, among others, may seem some action, but beyond that, to be honest, there's too much research and too many variables involved for me to be bothered.

Here, then, is a quick run-down of who will be where:
  • Wojciech Szczesny: called up for Poland's match with Scotland (in Warsaw). He may get the nod after Artur Boruc as his form has arguably been sharper on the whole than has Boruc's. He's also arguably Poland's keeper of the future. Then again, Poland hasn't qualified for the World Cup, so it's anyone's guess what happens.
  • Lukasz Fabianiski: also called up but for Poland's match, but again, hard to know just who will play. There are four other young keepers who have received call-ups recently, and Fabianski may find him squeezed out of the replacement process with Boruc getting closer to retirement but Szczesny looking to beat him out. I'd rather see Fabianski play so as to keep Szcz fresh for Saturday.
  • Bacary Sagna: called up for France's home-match with Holland, but it's hard to see why Deschamps would play him. Debuchy strikes me as more likely to play. Sagna is a known quality and Deschamps might be looking at a few younger players instead. 
  • Laurent Koscielny: also called for France's match with Holland, there has been constant talk of whom to play alongside him, and so me may have to play with Sakho or Varane to see who best pairs with Kos. 
  • Per Mertesacker: He's been called up for Chile's visit and will almost certainly play, unfortunately. If there's any saving grace there, it's in that idea that he doesn't do a whole heck of a lot of running anyway.
  • Carl Jenkinson: Yes, he's been called up—for Gareth Southgate, who host Wales in a European Championship qualifier. By contrast with other Gunners, I'd like to see him play because he hasn't seem much time on the pitch for the Gunners lately.
  • Kieran Gibbs: He's been called up to face Denmark. Much as I'd love to see him pip Baines or Cole, I'd much prefer that he be rested, especially as he's still recovering from niggles of his own.
  • Jack Wilshere: like Gibbs, called up, but I again hope that his injury and the relative glut of other players available keep him firmly rooted to the bench. In other related but more salacious news, there's a petition to keep Cleverley out of the squad. Don't know how to feel about that one, to be honest.
  • Tomáš Rosický: No, Czech Republic didn't qualify, but Tomáš has been called up will probably play in Prague against Norway. 
  • Mesut Özil: He's been called up and is likely to feature in Germany's match with Chile as Joachim Löw assesses him after some diffident outings for Arsenal. It's not as if Germany are bereft of other options, but I'd imagine that he would want to see if reports of Özil's demise are indeed premature.
  • Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain: With Theo out of the running (haha, funny), and with the form he's been in recently, expect Ox to play a bit against Holland. A fitting reward for being named Arsenal's Player of the Month for February, I must admit. Spain hosts Italy, and he may very well play.
  • Santi Cazorla: He may not be generating the goals or assists that earned him a more-regular spot in Spain's squad; in fact, his spot in Spain's squad may be responsible for the dip in those goals and assists. Paradoxes. What can you say?
  • Lukas Podolski: Despite his own dip in form, one that has seen him quite firmly rooted to the bench or ineffective when he does take to the pitch, he's been called up to face Chile. Here's hoping he uses the chance to revive some of the form that made him such a favorite from last season...
  • Nicklas Bendtner: He's alone among Gunners, perhaps, in having an away-match, but at least it's not very far as Denmark will play England at Wembley. Perhaps he can use the time to bring some sharpness to his game after sitting on the bench and perhaps dropping behind Sanogo in the pecking order.
  • Olivier Giroud: He's in the French squad, but Benzema's recent form may be enough to keep Giroud on the bench, which is fine with me.
  • Yaya Sanogo: He played Tuesday, actually, in France's U21 match against Belarus. 56 minutes but little to show for it in the 1-0 win (goal from Zouma won it, in case you're curious.
A little bit of travel hither and yon involved, but fingers crossed for no injuries or other crises. Good luck to them all. May their matches be uneventful and their gluteus maximii be the only muscles they use..while sitting on the bench.