This week I was knot ear, being locked away in a modern prison cell with no public internet access and a firewall that steadfastly refused to allow access to Arsenal Arsenal. For three days, 18 of us from 11 different countries stayed cloistered in a huddle trying to solve a few puzzles which probably mattered to no one. Except that it earned each of us our keep!
Topic enough for a rant no doubt, but it got me thinking. It was not bad, was it! Diverse cultures, languages and accents, ways of thinking, mannerisms, preferences in food, drink and attire. It must be a bit of the same in Arsenal. It is beautiful on the field as well, when it clicks.
Arsene was in the news this week talking about this diversity.
“Most of the time, yes [I can tell where they are from],” Wenger told Arsenal Player. “There’s specificity.
“In Spain they are good passers with good technique, in Germany they have good mobility and efficient technique and in England they have a good fighting spirit.
“The emphasis is on defending well in Italy – they are well known for defending well and doing a lot of tactical work at the youth level in training.
“I don’t know why goalkeepers are so good in Poland but usually these Eastern European countries do a lot of gymnastics at a young age to develop flexibility and awareness of your body. Maybe when they go into goalkeeping they benefit from it.”
All of this is fine, except that our beloved team is almost like a collection of crocked crockery, not much use in cooking a great game, but a beautiful sight on the display cabinet. Till only recently, it was a decent alternate team, and is not that bad even now.
Surprising then, but also a matter of great honour I am sure, that we have 15 players called up for their national sides for the international games over the fortnight long international break.
6 for England. Calum Chambers, Kieran Gibbs, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Theo Walcott, Danny Welbeck and Jack Wilshere have been called up to Roy Hodgson’s England squad for their Euro 2016 qualifier against Slovenia and their friendly in Scotland.
Joel Campbell completed 86 minutes in a friendly away to Costa Rica, setting up Bryan Ruiz for Costa Rica’s second goal in a 3-3 draw.
Yaya Sanogo captained France Under-21s in a 1-1 draw away to Italy Under-20s, and a game against England Under-21s awaits.
Wojciech Szczesny has retained his place in the Poland squad for their Euro 2016 qualifier in Georgia and their friendly against Switzerland.
Lukas Podolski played all the 90 minutes Germany’s 4-0 disaster against Gibraltar, and will likely feature in their friendly in Spain.
Aaron Ramsey has been named in the Wales squad that travels to Belgium for the next stage in their Euro 2016 qualifying campaign.
Alexis Sanchez is playing for Chile in their friendlies against Venezuela and Uruguay.
Santi Cazorla has been named in the Spain squad for their Euro 2016 qualifier against Belarus and their friendly against Germany.
And finally, Tomas Rosicky has been called up to the Czech Republic squad for their friendly against Iceland.
OK, we all understand it is a great honour to play for your country. And sometimes international games can be entertaining nail biting affairs as recently witnessed in the World Cup.
But, why so many friendlies? It is probably fair that, with an injury situation as scary as ours, the only nails we Gooners are probably going to bite is in the hope that the break passes off in an uneventful manner.
Whither the spirit of national pride and the celebration of national heroes? Under the circumstances, perhaps a NO THANKS, then?