Aside from Walcott’s groin strain, various Gunners representing their countries today emerged largely unscathed, so we can now set our sights properly on the match against Reading. Among other news, Mertesacker played a full 90′ for Germany’s 3-0 win over Kazakhstan while Podolski stayed on the bench, Vermaelen played all 90′ in Belgium’s 2-0 win over Macedonia, Szczęsny watched as Poland lost 3-1 to Ukraine, Giroud scored and played all 90′ in France’s 3-1 win over Georgia while Koscielny sat, the Ox played all 90′ and notched his second goal at the international level, Rosický subbed in late in the second half as Czech Republic lost to Denmark 3-0, Cazorla played a full 90′ for Spain while Monreal sat, and Aaron Ramsey scored for Wales (but Bale did not—continuing his recent drought) and earned a straight red for his last-man tackle in injury-time, leaving him unavailable for Wales’s next match.
And…inhale. All in all, not too shabby. We’ll miss Walcott, for sure, but all of our other boys come home (okay, they’re doing the opposite of that, in many cases) intact. A few might even bring with them a bit more pep in their steps after scoring for their countries.
And that ends that. A few of Gunners might feel a compulsive need to wash their hands and take a scalding-hot shower after sitting on the team bus with the likes of Cole, Terry, or Busquets. Such are the hazards of international travel. Now that that round one of this ruckus is behind us, we can hold our breath, cross our fingers, and rub a rabbit’s foot with the remaining uncrossed fingers as we wait to see how the next batch of matches turns out.
While we may not love the international break, it’s a necessary prelude to the World Cup, an annoying distraction to the Prem season. I wish there was some other way to sort these competitions out, but I’m just not smart enough. We’ll have to hope that (a) various country’s teams either seal up qualification early or (b) drop out just as fast, leaving our boys relatively free from having to strain themselves as they try to help their countries qualify, or (c) hope that various phantom injuries knock a few of ’em out of contention.
And that’s that—no need to draw this one out any further. ‘Til next time...