The Gunners might be out of action this week but with a host of pivotal World Cup qualifiers coming up a number of Arsenal players will be. Below I take a look at the chances of those players whose nations are not yet assured of a spot in South Africa…
Andrey Arshavin (Russia v Slovenia)
Arshavin’s Russia face a two-legged play-off with tiny Slovenia for a place in the World Cup. While the Slovenians are no strangers to going into a do-or-die play-off as underdogs and emerging as victors I really can’t see the superbly-balanced Russians, lead by Guus Hiddink, slipping up. So it’s Russia for me, probably by a couple of aggregate goals.
William Gallas, Gael Clichy, Bacary Sagna, Samir Nasri & Abou Diaby (France v Ireland)
The Irish have started the mind games with Richard Dunne aiming a brutal attack at Raymond Domenech’s incompetence but like Slovenia they’re very much the underdogs in this one. The French manager may continually fail to get the most out of his superb attacking options – this is a team that features Thierry Henry, Karim Benzema and Yohann Gourcuff among others – but the individual quality on display should be enough to smoke the Irish. Good thing too: it’d be a very depressing Arsenal dressing room against Sunderland if the French fail.
Alex Song (Cameroon v Morocco)
If Song’s Cameroon can travel to Morocco and take three points off the already-elimated hosts they will qualify for the World Cup. Anything less, however, could see Gabon nick their spot with an away win over Togo. It’s delicately poised this one, but with Cameroon superior to Morocco and Togo likely to put up a decent fight against Gabon Song and his teammates should qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 2002.
So there you have it – smiles all round when the boys get back to London next week!
PS. There was of course some tragic news today in the form of the tragic suicide of German goalkeeper Robert Enke. On behalf of everyone who reads the blog I wish Robert’s wife Teresa and their young child all the best in dealing with this awful situation.
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