Martinelli stars in friendly, new striker scouting, Messi test – why Arsenal fans can be excited


The November international break is upon us with several games taking place all over the world over the next week.

Arsenal will be well represented once again with first-team stars such as captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Nicolas Pepe, Aaron Ramsdale and Emile Smith Rowe, as well as a few academy players, all selected to represent their respective nations at various levels.

With World Cup qualifiers taking centre stage for most, there’s a chance that a number of Gunners players could play a huge role in ensuring their nation confirms their place for next year’s tournament in Qatar.

On the other hand, there will be World Cup disappointment for others.

But for Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta, the dream scenario is that none of his players return with any niggles, especially after losing Granit Xhaka to injury before the last international break.

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Therefore it’s likely to be an agonising week for the Spaniard and those connected to Arsenal as many fingers and toes will be crossed hoping everyone comes back unscathed.

With that said, it won’t simply be a case of hiding behind a sofa, wincing any time a Gunners player goes down and waiting for positive news after a game.

Looking at the fixture list and the various squads named, there are enough reasons for Arsenal supporters to be excited about whilst waiting for the return of Premier League action.

Here are five of them…

Martinelli to star

Once again, an international break could be great for Gabriel Martinelli as it gives him another chance – with Aubameyang, Bukayo Saka, Smith Rowe and Pepe all away – to show Arteta that he deserves more opportunities in the Premier League.

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The Brazilian looked sharp when he came on against Watford, but he didn’t make the most of a rare start in last month’s Carabao Cup fourth-round win over Leeds United.

If this international break is anything like the previous two this season, then Martinelli may get a chance to show what he’s truly capable of in a behind-closed doors friendly.

Arsenal's Gabriel Martinelli is challenged by Diego Llorente of Leeds United during their Carabao Cup clash in October (Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images)
Arsenal’s Gabriel Martinelli is challenged by Diego Llorente of Leeds United during their Carabao Cup clash in October (Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images)

In September, Arsenal faced Brentford at their London Colney training base before doing the same against Queens Park Rangers last month with Arteta opting for a strong line-up on both occasions.

Martinelli was among those to shine in the 3-2 win over QPR, where two of the club’s most promising youngsters in Taylor Foran and Mauro Bandeira also featured.

Perhaps the forward will get another chance to star in a friendly over the next week.

Triple debut

Who doesn’t get excited about players receiving international recognition?

For Arsenal fans, they could see as many as three members of Arteta’s first-team squad make their senior debuts on the international scene.

One of which is Ramsdale. He was in the England squad for Euro 2020 after replacing Manchester United’s Dean Henderson, but given Jordan Pickford’s form in between the sticks, it meant he didn’t play a single minute.

Then last month he was overlooked as Sam Johnstone got the nod against Andorra before Pickford returned for the 1-1 draw against Hungary.

Getting better with each Arsenal game, there’s a chance Ramsdale could be rewarded with his first England cap against either Albania or San Marino, where he could start alongside Smith Rowe.

Aaron Ramsdale and Emile Smith Rowe were perhaps Arsenal's two standout performers in October
Aaron Ramsdale and Emile Smith Rowe were perhaps Arsenal’s two standout performers in October

The in-form attacking midfielder was called up by Gareth Southgate on Monday after Marcus Rashford and James Ward-Prowse withdrew from the squad and it would be a surprise if he doesn’t make his bow at some point in the next week.

Statistically, Smith Rowe is at the top of his game with three goals and an assist since the last international break and certainly deserves to get some minutes.

Last, but by no means least, Gabriel Magalhaes is in the Brazil squad for their World Cup qualification double-header and he could come up against Argentina’s Lionel Messi in a repeat of the summer’s Copa America final.

Although, Paris Saint-Germain sporting director Leonardo is not happy about the 34-year-old’s inclusion as he’s not fully fit.

“We do not agree to release a player for national team selection who, for us, is not in physical condition or who is in the rehabilitation phase,” he said, as per beIN Sports. “It does not make sense, and this type of situation is worthy of a ruling from FIFA.”

Leonardo may not be happy about Messi being called up, but for Gabriel, it could be the chance to test himself against one of the best players in the world.

Gabriel Magalhaes reacts during Arsenal's win over Watford (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
Gabriel Magalhaes reacts during Arsenal’s win over Watford (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

Nuno Tavares masterclass

Nuno Tavares was, arguably, Arsenal’s biggest winner from the October international break.

In an 11-0 win for Portugal U21’s against Liechtenstein, the 21-year-old showcased how useful he can be as an attacking force down the left-hand side by helping himself to a goal and weighing in with a couple of assists.

A masterclass from an attacking full-back some may say.

Nuno Tavares celebrates his goal for Portugal U21's in their 11-0 win over Liechtenstein U21's. (Image: YouTube)
Nuno Tavares celebrates his goal for Portugal U21’s in their 11-0 win over Liechtenstein U21’s. (Image: YouTube)

He then played the full 90 minutes of a 1-0 win over Iceland four days later to round off a rather successful two weeks with the Portgual U21’s.

Tavares has since taken that form into Premier League matters, performing well in the two games Kieran Tierney missed through injury and got the nod to start over the Scotland international against Watford at the weekend.

Named in the Portugal U21 squad once again, a double-header against Cyprus provides the defender with another chance to produce a masterclass.

Vlahovic scouting mission

It may be November and the transfer window may not be open for another eight weeks, but Arsenal are still being linked with several names.

Raheem Sterling, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, and Ollie Watkins are just some of the names tipped to seal a move to the Emirates Stadium in the January transfer window.

As previously reported by the Gunners will target a new back-up goalkeeper if, as expected, Bernd Leno leaves the club in the next window as well as a defender and midfielder.

Dusan Vlahovic has been linked with a move to Arsenal. (Image: Matteo Ciambelli/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)
Dusan Vlahovic has been linked with a move to Arsenal. (Image: Matteo Ciambelli/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)

However, talk of signing a new striker has increased over the past week.

As a result, it does bring Fiorentina’s Dusan Vlahovic into focus amid talk that the Gunners are ready to pay £68m for his services in the January transfer window following an impressive start to the season.

The 21-year-old is in the Serbia squad for their friendly against Qatar and World Cup qualifier against Portugal, thus providing Arsenal officials with a chance to complete a scouting mission.

It’s the final international break of the year

There is one problem with the absence of club football and it’s that, admittedly, international breaks are not something that are universally loved.

Luckily for those who aren’t fond of the international window, this is the final one of 2021 and there won’t be another pause in the season until next March.

Furthermore, plans are afoot to address the situation as former Gunners manager Arsene Wenger – now FIFA’s Chief of Global Football Development – has a rather controversial proposal that would result in less “meaningless” international breaks.

Whether the Frenchman is successful remains to be seen, but for the time being, fans have to sit through a second international break in the space of a month.

Source by Football London

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