With international teams preparing for important World Cup qualifiers this weekend, club football takes a break and that gives Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger the chance to reflect on an eventful week. It is official now that Croatia striker Eduardo has been banned for two UEFA games. The following statement appeared on UEFA’s website on Tuesday: “The Uefa Control and Disciplinary Body today examined the case of the Arsenal FC player Eduardo for deceiving the referee during the Uefa Champions League play-off second leg match on August 26 against Celtic, and has suspended the player for two Uefa club competition matches. This decision may be appealed against by the club or player within three working days of the dispatch of the reasoned decision.” The club has confirmed that it will appeal in due course.
Meanwhile, Arsenal’s international stars will be away for their respective countries for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers and international friendlies and Arsene Wenger hopes his key players return from such high profile games unscathed. Already suffering this season’s first loss despite playing well, the Gunners cannot afford to slip up given the start Manchester City and Tottenham have had in their respective quests to dislodge the traditional ‘Big Four’.
There are four Arsenal players selected for the France squad to face Romania and Serbia in important qualifiers. William Gallas, Bacary Sagna, Abou Diaby and Gael Clichy have been called up by Raymond Domenech to face Romania at home and Serbia in Belgrade.
Cesc Fabregas’ fitness will be closely monitored as he is set to play a key role in Spain’s quest for an early qualification for South Africa 2010 as Vicente Del Bosque’s side host Belgium and Estonia. Fabregas missed Arsenal’s last two games with a hamstring injury and it would be great if the little Spaniard returns fit from the international week. The Emirates faithful hope that the club captain does not aggravate the injury, which would spell mean disaster with Arsenal not adding to their solitary summer signing of Thomas Vermaelen.
The Belgian himself will be representing his country for the first time since joining the Gunners – he is set to face Spain and Armenia. The fixture against Spain will give the impressive Vermaelen the chance to test his wits against his club captain. Tomas Rosicky is another Gunner whose fitness is being observed both at club and international level as his Czech Republic side look to stay in contention for a place in next year’s World Cup when they take on arch rivals Slovakia in Bratislava and face minnows San Marino four days later.
Eduardo is set to be be involved with Croatia when they look to match England in their group by first seeing off Belarus on September 5 and four days later visit Wembley to take on England in a ‘grudge match’ already overshadowed by events off the field relating to Eduardo’s dive and Luka Modric’s broken leg.
Off the field, both Nicklas Bendtner and Denilson have signed long term contracts for their club and that is good news given the array of talents these young professionals possess.
Bendtner is a key figure in the Denmark side and should again feature in his country’s quest for a place in South Africa this week. The young striker has impressed with his start to the season for the Gunners. Denilson has also impressed this season and his finish last campaign was exceptional making the Brazilian one of the important members in the Arsenal squad right now. Extending his contract further is another sign of Arsenal Football Club valuing a young professional’s progress.
On Nicklas Bendtner, Arsene Wenger was quoted as saying: “Nicklas has impressed me highly with his application and determination over the last season, you can see that he wants to compete at the highest level and win things with his team-mates. He scored a number of important goals for us last season and he will look to replicate that again this year. However, it’s not just about the goals, his all round contribution has improved and will continue to do so. I’m very pleased that he will be part of the team for years to come.”
On Denilson, the wily Frenchman told the media: “Denilson’s contribution to the Club last season was outstanding. His work rate really was exceptional and it is valuable to have players that we know will perform to the very last minute in such a demanding league. I’m pleased that he has committed his long-term future to the Club. ”
Arsenal Club Focus
Pre-season preparations take a few hits – July 29
Gunners as prepared as they can be for Everton – August 12
Gunners gear up for vital ‘Battle of Britain’ clash – August 18
Fortuitous Gunners revel in Glasgow win – August 21
Electric Arsenal improve on success with a formidable win – August 25
Gunners undone by terrible errors – September 1
no international break for injured Gunners – September 4