14 First-Teamers On International Duty

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If it’s one thing that Arsene Wenger and Arsenal supporters always fear during international breaks it is the potential for injury to Gunners away on duty for their countries in qualifiers or friendly matches.

Arsenal has been unlucky during such periods the past few years, when seemingly each instance would see at least one of its players return to North London with some type of injury or problem received while playing for his country.

With the start of the 2009-10 Premiership season just days away, it would be unfortunate to see another Gunner go down to injury this week, a mini-break for international action. Fourteen Arsenal first-teamers have headed out to wear their country’s colors on the pitch, in World Cup qualifiers and friendly matches this week.

Two Arsenal first-teamers could line up against each other in the Holland-England friendly on Wednesday. Theo Walcott is the only English Gunner in Fabio Capello’s squad to face the Netherlands, who will have Robin van Persie to call on for the match.

Defenders Johan Djourou and Philippe Senderos have been called up for duty with Switzerland’s national team, who will host Italy in a friendly on Wednesday.

Another defensive pair — William Gallas and Bacary Sagna — have been included in France’s team for its qualifier against Faroe Islands, with Le Bleus looking to close the gap on group leaders Serbia with a victory away from home.

Traveling to play Belarus on Wednesday, Arsenal’s Eduardo and his Croatia teammates will also be looking to gain three points in a move up the group table — though they trail England by 10 points and may be aiming for a second-place finish to earn a playoff berth for next summer’s World Cup.

Mexico also have work to do to qualify from the CONCACAF region, with some calling Wednesday’s home tie with the United States a must win for “El Tri.” Carlos Vela will continue his busy summer with the national team, having been named to Mexico’s squad for the qualifier after sparking the side to a 5-1 win over the U.S. in the Gold Cup final last month.

Other Gunners in action this midweek include Andrey Arshavin, included in Russia’s squad to face Argentina in a friendly match on Wednesday night. Cesc Fabregas is among the players for a Spain side in Macedonia for a friendly clash on Wednesday night.

Other friendlies in Europe will see the Czech Republic play Belgium, who will have new Gunner Thomas Vermaelen on hand; Chile visit Denmark, with Nicklas Bendtner in the Danish squad; and Montenegro host Wales, who will give young midfielder Aaron Ramsey more international experience.

And while Kolo Toure has left the club this summer, Emmanuel Eboue will be Arsenal’s representative on the Ivory Coast team travelling to Tunisia for a friendly between the two African sides.

With Samir Nasri and Tomas Rosicky already out with injuries, will this week once again prove unlucky for Arsenal, with another player joining the two midfielders for an extended period on the sidelines?

We’ll know soon enough, but I just hope that manager Wenger will not be using his Friday press conference to provide details on yet another Gunner injured while on international duty.

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