Ahh the international breaks – as I like to call them – “time off from football”. I have never held any interest whatsoever in these ghastly mid-season periods of pointlessness and whilst some people do indeed get rather excitable over matches played for their chosen country/country of birth, until a major tournament I just couldn’t give a monkey’s. I simply cannot bring myself to support a side with Harry Kane, Eric Dier, Harry Maguire and probably even Jesse Lingard in it. Not for me thanks. I’ll watch in the summer, I’ll get somewhat invested, but never really that much, so the thought of watching any matches over this period – World Cup qualifying or not – makes me ‘meh’ more than most anything could make a man ‘meh’ in this world.
Thanks but no thanks, just get our Arsenal boys back home, safe and sound.
But of course it would be an international break without an injury scare, would it? Which is why the news started filtering through that Odegaard picked up what I think was an ankle knock and had to be substituted at half time. “brilliant. Just as he’s starting to properly ‘click’ for us” I thought as I was reading that news yesterday evening. But apparently it was a precaution and he’ll be available for Norway’s game against Turkey over this period. I think it’s Turkey. I don’t even care enough about international football to even bother looking it up, to be honest with you.
The other worry we have is Bukayo Saka, who has had a bit of a hamstring issue after the West Ham game and having also gone off at halftime against The Scum the week before, it sounds as if he’s nursing this particular problem. Southgate has apparently said that he’s going to report, they’ll assess him and he might be a doubt for the game. That probably means England will use him, chew him up and spit him out over the course of the next week I suspect. They play three games over this period I think and you just know by the third game BUkayo will have had minutes under his belt. All we can hope for is that those minutes don’t come any time soon. We have had a lot of time this season where Arsenal have probably over-worked him a little and in recent matches it has looked like he’s a little less electric than he was a couple of months back. That’s to be expected; he’s a young and very gifted player and even last season whilst he played a fair few times, Arteta pulled him out of the first team towards the end of the season and he even missed the FA Cup Final.
I think if there was a final this season (i.e. the Europa League) and he was fit an able, I’d be surprised if Mikel is leaving him out this time around, but I think most of us recognise that he probably needs to be managed a bit at this moment in time. Even if there was no internationals and we had a game this weekend for The Arsenal, I’d probably be thinking that Pepe with his form and Saka with his potential fatigue, should be a question for Arteta as to whether to bring a player out or not. So now that we’re in an international break I just hope that Arsenal can hold on to him a little longer and not have to release him for these matches.
I doubt I’ll get my wish though. My gut feel would be that whilst Saka is still in London Colney being assessed right now, meaning that he can’t play this evening against San Marino, that he will probably end up being released for England ‘duty’ come the weekend. I just hope Southgate doesn’t just chuck him in for the full 90 for the next two games if he does report for the England team. Give those minutes to run Harry Kane, Jack Grealish and Mason Mount in to the ground, not our Bukayo, Gareth.
I guess the only other stuff worth talking about goes back to Martin Odegaard again. These players always give telling interviews when on international duty but unlike Gareth Bale, who essentially said “I’m a Madrista, get me out of here” this week, Martin Odegaard has simply said that he won’t make a decision on his future until the summer and that he is looking only for ‘stability and development’ from next season.
Lovely Martin, just let us know where you would like us to leave this pen and paper, then you can sign when you are ready.
Chance would be a fine thing, though, right? The reality is that we have to probably have plenty of stars aligning in order for Madrid to let him go and if he keeps putting on displays like that one he did against West Ham then Real Madrid would be mental not to hand him the keys to the Madrid engine and say “you are part of our rebuild, my boy”.
He’s quality, he still has more to show in an Arsenal shirt, but he could be a key component to us turning this sow’s ear of a season into something vaguely resembling a silk purse.
And on that metaphor for our season, I think i’ll call it a day.
Catch you all tomorrow with probably more rants from me about how sh*te international football is.