A number of Arsenal players were in action last night as the international break officially came to a close.
Abou Diaby and Gael Clichy started for France in their 2-0 win over Luxembourg, with the former in particular impressing in his country’s win. Diaby had a number of efforts saved by the Luxembourg goalkeeper and set the game alight with some fabulous dribbling and excellent passing. A good friend of mine, photographer Ryu Voelkel was at the game and captured fantastic image of Diaby during the game, which I have included below.
Samir Nasri, who was widely judged to have been France’s best player against Romania just a few days ago, was dropped to the bench to accommodate Yohann Gourcuff, but the Marseille man came on with a half-hour remaining to help France to victory. Ryu also snapped a beautiful shot of him stepping out onto the pitch at half-time.
The game featured another ugly “I got the ball so I can do anything I want after that” tackle by Rene Peters, Luxembourg’s captain, that could have badly injured Gourcuff. Peters was sent off by the brave referee and it was another indication that the tide may be turning against players that tackle recklessly and claim going for the ball as an excuse. I think we can be lucky it was Gourcuff and not Diaby or Nasri who was on the receiving end of the tackle or we might be counting them out for a couple of weeks.
In other games around Europe Andrei Arshavin captained Russia for 81 minutes in a 1-0 win over Macedonia that featured some superb goalkeeping late on by Igor Akinfeev. The Russian stopper was at his best to block a couple of point-blank headers and produced a spectacular penalty save to ensure Russia came away the victors.
Tomas Rosicky played 90 minutes for the Czech Republic in their 2-0 win over Liechtenstein while Jack Wilshere could count himself a little bit unfortunate not to get a substitute appearance for an England side that lacked inspiration in their 0-0 stalemate with Montenegro. Arsenal fans may be happy he didn’t get on though: it means the youngster will be fresh as a daisy for the Birmingham game this weekend.
With the international break done and dusted it appears as though Bacary Sagna was the only casualty, out for three weeks with a thigh problem. We will know more when the Arsenal medical staff get their hands on the players but all looks well for Birmingham, particularly with Cesc Fabregas back in contention and Thomas Vermaelen, Robin van Persie and Theo Walcott set for returns just around the corner.
There is sure to be more Arsenal-related news popping up over the remainder of the week and I’m looking to sink my teeth into it.
Have your say on the international break or Ryu’s superb photos by leaving a comment.