So we can finally bid adieu to this latest round of international friendlies and hopefully with a bit of luck, the damage will be negligible for Arsenal players returning to the club today and tomorrow, for Watford at home on Saturday.
I didn’t bother watching the England vs The Netherlands game except for a two minute window when Theo had a shot saved by the Dutch ‘keeper, so I’m going to assume that I’ve probably watched the only major Arsenal contribution during the game right there, given he was a sub and has hardly been tearing up the Premier League. During that short window of football I clicked over to, Glenn Hoddle suggested that given his current threat of not making the final squad for the summer and his lack of game time at Arsenal, he might miss out. I’m sure he doesn’t want that to happen and so if that provides him a foil for making more of an impact over the next six weeks then I’m all for it. But I won’t hold my breath. Theo has been anonymous for most of the season and most of the fellow Gooners I speak to think his race is run as an Arsenal player. So what does he have to do to be assured of getting on that plane for the Euro’s?
Goals. Lots of goals. He’s not going to beat a man and slide the ball in field for Welbeck to notch up a selection of tap-ins between now and May, so if he wants to get a place in the England squad, he’s going to have to be exceedingly prolific. I say that because right now he’s not getting in to the first XI at The Arsenal, so his only hope is taking pretty much every chance he gets with his 15 minute cameos he’ll be given between now and the last game against Villa.
Ahh Villa, with poor old Remi, who has managed just fourth months in charge. You have to feel for the guy. He arrived on a ship sinking with a million holes and only had a couple of corks and a bottle opener. It’s easy to say with hindsight, but it was probably never going to work out and now that Villa are all but doomed, the club has pulled the trigger on a man that we can all feel a little bit for because of his Villa connections. It’s clearly a damage limitation exercise, because they’re down, so whether they’ll just caretaker their way to the Championship God only knows.
What about the other Arsenal players who will probably play this weekend then? Well Cech we’ll wait to hear about tomorrow no doubt, whilst Bellerin, Mertesacker and Monreal will all be rested from not having played – although I think Bellerin might have got some game time in the under-21s last week but I’m too lazy to check – and the good news about Koscielny is that he didn’t see any action yesterday. That means we should have a rested enough back four and with Coquelin also not picked for France, we can only hope that the energy of Elneny hasn’t been sapped by the AFCON qualifier against Nigeria which took place yesterday. He’s been a real bright spark in our two recent games and has given a balance to the side that few others have managed to achieve in the centre of the park. If he can come back and still have the same influence, then you’re looking at a decent and solid unit who should be rested enough to get revenge against Watford.
The only question marks for us will be in the front four. Özil played the full 90, Alexis is probably running back to Arsenal and Welbeck had an ice-pack across his knee after the Germany game. They are all players we simply can’t afford to be without, so I am hoping that we get no nasty little surprises from Le Boss tomorrow. Until then, we just have to wait patiently, still having to deal with people in the press who still care about international football and want to eek as many more column inches as they can by talking about meaningless friendlies with endless substitutions. Oh joy.
Right, I’m off for another day, so enjoy your Wednesday.