Home Breaking News Gabriel Martinelli boost, Bukayo Saka setback – Arsenal best and worst case...

Gabriel Martinelli boost, Bukayo Saka setback – Arsenal best and worst case international break


Thursday sees the March international break kick into gear for players called up to represent their respective nations. But will it be a happy experience for Arsenal?

It’s safe to say the mood around the club has changed drastically since the September window when the Gunners were propping up the Premier League table after losing their opening three games against Brentford, Chelsea and Manchester City. Fast forward six months and Arsenal find themselves in control of the top-four race with 10 games to go with the upturn in form coinciding with key players being available for selection and manager Mikel Arteta being able to name a settled side for more than one game.

But can anything happen over the next fortnight to give the Spaniard something to be concerned about ahead of the Premier League clash against Crystal Palace a week on Monday? Well, football.london takes you through what would be the best and worse case scenario for Arsenal during the March international break.

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Best case

In many ways, Takehiro Tomiyasu and Aaron Ramsdale not going away with Japan and England respectively is good news for Arsenal as the pair can spend the international break rehabilitating in the hope of being available for the Premier League run-in.

Furthermore, this break provides Arteta with another chance to take a closer look at some of the club’s most promising youngsters who could end up saving the club millions of pounds. Zak Swanson and Zach Awe have been included in senior matchday squads over the past month and are in line to get another chance to catch the Arsenal manager’s eye.

With that said, for the 13 first-team players away on international duty, the hope is that they all don’t suffer a dip in confidence or form ahead of returning to London Colney next week. In particular, Thomas Partey whose chances of playing at another World Cup hinges on Ghana overcoming Nigeria in a hugely anticipated two-legged playoff.

After representing his nation at last summer’s Tokyo Olympics, Gabriel Martinelli is close to fulfilling another dream after being called into the senior Brazil squad for the very first time for their World Cup qualification double-header against Chile and Bolivia.

“Today was the realization of another dream in my life!” he wrote on Instagram. “I can only thank you for this moment, for having the opportunity to wear the shirt of the most victorious team in the history of world football. A lot of work and dedication so I could experience this. I thank everyone’s trust in my work and my family and friends for always being by my side!”

Amid competition from the likes of Neymar and Vinicius Junior, Martinelli has his work cut out to get a start in his favoured left-wing role. But his confidence could go through the roof should he win his first cap this month and that can only bode well for Arsenal in their top-four quest.

Worst case

This is the most obvious one. Injuries. The one fear most – if not all – managers will have for any international break is getting their players back in the state they left in. Arteta is no different and his biggest concern is likely to be around Bukayo Saka who has come in for some tough treatment of late.

Last time out against Aston Villa where the 20-year-old scored the only goal of the game, he had to speak to the referee at half-time about some of the challenges he had to endure, thus prompting some rather bizarre comments from Steven Gerrard which served to highlight his own hypocrisy.

But it’s clear that there is some concern from Arteta regarding the well-being of Saka: “He was really fatigued as well,” the Arsenal manager revealed. “After Liverpool he had an issue in his hip and he’s played a lot of minutes and you could tell. We didn’t want to risk him because he has to go with England now so we decided to take him off. [He] should be fine [for England].”

As Arsenal’s squad is already on the thin side after allowing as many as six first-team players leave in the January transfer window, they can ill-afford any injuries and a setback to Saka would be a nightmare scenario for Arteta going into the final 10 games of the season.

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