This is the moment when all we can do is pray (or keep fingers crossed)



By Sir Hardly Anyone

The result of the next few days could be a deep sigh of relief or a complete trauma following a total catastrophe and the end of any thought of winning the league.  And the horror of it all is, Arsenal have no control over the outcome.  In the worst-case scenario, it could result in a dropping out of the top four in the games to come.  In the best-case scenario winning the league could still be in Arsenal’s hands.

For while it is wonderful to see the current Arsenal team in action and to reflect on eight successive victories in the league scoring 33 goals (if I have added them up correctly) while conceding four (I think I got that right) the club has now lost all control over virtually the entire squad.   If this were not something that has been normalised by the “we’re always up for a freebie wherever it is” media, there would be an utter outcry.

Here’s the list of players who will be with their countries and at their beck and call, with almost certainly some of them being returned with a note saying “just make sure he’s fit for our next game”.

  1. Gabriel (Brazil)
  2. Havertz (Germany)
  3. Hein (Estonia)
  4. Jorginho (Itlay)
  5. Kiwior (Poland)
  6. Odegaard (Norway)
  7. Raya (Spain)
  8. Ramsdale (England)
  9. Rice (England, captain)
  10. Saka (England)
  11. Saliba (France)
  12. Trossard (Belgium)
  13. Zinchenko (Ukraine)

Yes 13 players, and it is of course possible that I have missed someone en route.  For all these players to return totally fit is extremely unlikely.

Apparently, this total of 13 is not a record since Arsenal Station calculated that last year there was one occasion in which 17 Arsenal players were called up.

And the nerves I shall be feeling over who comes back uninjured reminds me that the pundits do insist on calling this forced removal of club players, an international “duty” as if it is in some way similar to serving one’s country during a war.   It isn’t; it is a choice which players make, and which at least one Arsenal player has chosen to avoid.  We can only congratulate Ben White for holding firm on his views in the face of appalling mass comments from the media.

Publications such as Football 365,, plus those of the Mirror group and the Star all lay into Ben White for his brave decision to stand by his own views and not be swayed by the media hoardes, and I can only offer him my best wishes and support for standing firm.   Of course, I don’t know why he has chosen not to be involved, but it takes a huge amount of guts to stand up to the rampaging media attacking from all sides, and he is doing that.

 So England play tonight and Arsenal then have somehow to regather their squad, see who is still fit to play and then face Manchester City.

Although to be fair, Manchester City do appear to have more players called away – I make it 16 in all, although I might have missed some.

Meanwhile of course Arsenal already have a range of injuries.   Saka, as we have noted has not been involved with England and thankfully for once some sense has been used and he is not in the England training group, meaning Arsenal’s medical team can work with him properly.  There is a chance he could be ready for the Manchester City game.

Gabriel Magalhaes was called up by Brazil despite his Achilles injury, but hopefully he is being properly looked after, and won’t play.

Thomas Partey was called up by Ghana but chose not to go and is working on his fitness in London.

And the real impact of these international matches can be seen with Takehiro Tomiyasu who was injured playing in the Asia Cup and has not played a competitive game since although he was on the bench for the second-leg against Porto.

Which brings us onto Gabriel Martinelli who has missed the last two games and has been reported to be on crutches following a foot injury.

Meanwhile, Jurrien Timber is continuing to work on his fitness following the injury at the start of the season,and there is talk that he may return to the squad soon..

5 Replies to “This is the moment when all we can do is pray (or keep fingers crossed)”

  1. I see Jeff Stelling is the latest one to have a pop, but to be honest a massive majority of the ‘public’ comments I have read either actively support White, or at the very least defend his right to choose.

    The media may be attempting to stir this up (maybe because he plays for Arsenal, who knows?), but as far as I can see it isn’t working.

    I may be wrong, but I have sensed for a while that supporters are getting sick and tired of players getting injured on International duty. Why? Well maybe it’s because they pay a fortune for their season tickets, and by definition the players wages, and feel, quite rightly in my opinion, that they should not be damaged playing for someone else, even their Country.

    Fans pay their wages to see them play for THEIR team. Nobody else.

    I don’t think the media realise quite how wrong they have got this.

  2. A long time ago a captain led out the Arsenal team to play in the only cup final that existed back in the day . Arsenal lost on that day . In essence our captain’s comments after that final were : I thought the finest honour in the game was to captain England , I was wrong , the finest honour is to captain Arsenal ‘.
    Nothing , as far as I am concerned since that statement was made has led me to believe otherwise.
    The England team then was well selected and directed and had the Arsenal manager to see that things were done right was the only time the FA got things right.
    That was way back in the 1930’s.

  3. Last i read was that Gabriel withdrew from the Brasil squad, which is good and allows him more time to recover.

  4. I also would prefer that none of our players were involved in international matches, especially irrelevant friendlies at such a crucial time in the league season.

    A separate observation is that all three of our senior goalkeepers have been called into international squads. I wonder if this is a unique occurence?

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