Club football fans hate international breaks. Club managers and officials don’t like it either. In a busy season like the one we are in, the international break is simply horrible.
A lot of Arsenal players have represented their national sides in the last week. Apart from the possibility of fatigue due to games and travel, there is also a risk of contracting the highly contagious COVID-19.
Let us look at the losses in personnel Arsenal may suffer due to this international break.
Mohamed Elneny played in Egypt’s 1-0 victory against Togo which puts them in sight of qualification for the AFCON. But in a post-match COVID test, Elneny was found to be positive.
He will be tested again upon his return to Egypt, but will miss Arsenal’s meeting with Leeds this weekend, and the trip to Molde in the Europa League next week.
Elneny has found a new lease of life as he has become a mainstay in Arsenal’s midfield this season under Arteta. His absence will be a headache for the manager as Arsenal take on a tricky Leeds on Saturday.
Sead Kolasinac tested positive for COVID-19 today. He was tested before Bosnia and Herzegovina’s clash with Italy.
With the FA mandating a 10-day quarantine period, the defender is going to miss the fixture against Leeds on Saturday and Molde in the midweek.
The whole Gabon international team was forced to spend the night at an airport in Gambia, due to irregularities with COVID-19 safety measures.
Travelling to African countries from England takes a toll anyway. Coupled with a tiring night stay at the airport, this will not do much good to him as he is already experiencing a dry patch in front of goal for Arsenal.
Kieran Tierney had a very eventful international break as his national side Scotland qualified for the European Championships, to be held next year.
Tierney played the full 120 minutes against Serbia which went to the penalty shootout. He also started against Slovakia. Therefore, it might be a gamble for Arteta to start him against Leeds.
Some other first-team players played 2 or 3 games during this period – including Granit Xhaka, Hector Bellerin, Nicolas Pepe, and Bukayo Saka. Their fitness level needs to be judged when they return mid-week from their international duties.
A silver lining is the availability of Thomas Partey, who missed international games for Ghana as he recovered from a thigh injury.
Author: Kshitiz Choudhary
Photo: joshjdss 2016, Wikimedia Commons