Internationals should only be held in the off-season

Robin van Persie's ankle is stamped on by Giorgio Chiellini

Just 5 days ago, NostraWenger gave his assessment of Arsenal’s poor November record over the last few years and put the blame directly on the door of injuries.

Traditionally November has not been a good month for us but I explain that by the fact we had more injuries, it is the first period when they kick in.  It depends on the fixtures too – you can have two or three difficult games in November. You have decisive games in the Champions League and the players go on international duty. Now we have that break and all the players fly away so let’s hope they all fly back in good shape. After that we go to Sunderland and that is always a difficult place to go.

Though we don’t quite know the extent of the injury, it’s looking a lot like Arsenal lost a key player to what looks like a very serious injury. Robin van Persie seems to have suffered an ankle injury under a heavy challenge by Italian center back Giorgio Chiellini, in an international friendly.

As my regular reader knows, I’m no fan of Nationalism Football. In fact, parsing the Arsenal blogs this morning, it looks like none of us are fans. But I think most of us would be fine with internationals if they confined them to the off season. You could easily shorten the Premier League season by taking out all these international breaks, then give the players some time off in Spring, and get them back in training with their national team for Summer. Or even vice-versa, get them straight into international play in Spring, and then a break in Summer.

To say that having these breaks in the middle of the season is really frustrating, is an understatement.  And it’s not just the ubiquitous injuries: it’s the time away from their club; it’s the two week break as players fly all over the world and put in what is usually some kind of mediocre football; and then it’s the players flying home where some, like Vela, fly 11,000 miles round trip. Then the boss gets one day with his team and they are off to play a team that is well rested because they only have one international, like Sunderland.

But it’s crazy for the players and fans of International football as well. For players in the EPL the months of November through January are insanely scheduled, you’ve got two English cups, the Champions League, the Premier League, International football, the Christmas jam of fixtures, and for the African players, the Africa Cup of Nations which puts stress not only on those players but on their teammates as well.

And if you’re a fan of the International game, look at yesterday’s match between “England” and Brazil in Doha. More than half of the English team were either canny enough to say they had an injury or were actually injured, which left basically the English team playing as Spurs and Villa, with a little Man City, while Brazil fielded a mostly starting team. And then you top the whole thing off by holding the match in Doha; 3,500 miles from London and 7,300 miles from Rio! How is that valuable to anyone? I mean anyone outside of Dubai.

I know that the Internationals are all about making money for FIFA but there needs to be some sense injected into this madness. Clubs and their fans are the ones who support these international teams, we build the players up through our support of them at club level, going to 38+ matches a season. Those supporters shouldn’t have their season thrown into chaos every two months so that the casual International supporters can see James Milner and Wes Brown trundle around in Doha as Brazil give yet another exhibition of the gulf in class between the English team and the Brazilian squad.

It’s madness, these games should be held on their own time, in their own season and not breaking up the season for the rest of the world’s clubs. But like most of what FIFA does, it’s a madness that makes sense to them, and doubtless will never change.

Tekken, Cartwheels, and Women Scorned; vote for your favorite “interlull” video

Three football related videos are blazing their way through the internet at the moment; Jonny Evan’s Fatality on Drogba, some Cartwheeling keeper, and some video chronicling all the hard hits that happened on one high school women’s  football team.

Watch each below and vote for your favorite at the very bottom — the winner gets $100 and a handshake from Bob Saget.

Jonny Evans v. Drogba

Cartwheeling Keeper Capers

Pueblo West High School Girls Soccer team. Hits from the 2007 Season

[poll id="3"]

Is Everyone at Chelsea Injured Prior to the Arsenal Match on the 29th?

With Cashley Cole, Drogba, Lampard and now John Terry complaining of injury Chelsea could be missing as many as five of their starters against Arsenal on the 29th, but I wouldn’t count on it.

Cole was the first of this latest crop to pull up with an injury, a depression fracture of his tibia, which was first uncovered back on the 21st of October. Since then he’s missed 3 matches against Rovers and Wanderers but played in the Champions League match against Athletico and the 1-0 win over Man U last week, both times requiring an injection. Given that record, my bet is that he’ll be rested against Wolves, rested against Porto and will be back in full strength against Arsenal.

Lampard was next on the injury list, getting a cramp on the flight to Doha with the national team which later turned into a tear of the quad while doing sprints in practice. Like the Cole story, there have been several different versions of this story: first, he was going to be out until Christmas, and now it’s 3 weeks. Again, I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s rested against Wolves and 100% ready for the Arsenal match.

Drogba’s injury is similarly shrouded in mystery; is it a bruised rib, a broken rib, epilepsy, what exactly is Drogba suffering from? The club initially reported it was a bruised rib, but the Ivory Coast are calling it a broken rib, according to The Sun. Please note, “according to The Sun.” The Sun’s story is now being picked up by others like Goal.com and Arsenal News Review, you know, only the most reliable news sources. Given Drogba’s record of fakery, he’s probably not only fine but Jonny Evans probably kicked a rib back into place making him stronger.

And finally, there’s a brief mention in other articles that John Terry might not be able to play today against Brazil because he hurt his ankle. Fingers crossed… that it’s a career ending injury.

Of course places like Goal.com, Arsenal News Review, and The World’s Least Reliable News Source are trying to say that all four players could miss the Arsenal clash on the 29th. As a betting man, I would say “don’t put any money on any of them missing that game.” The only person I would absolutely rule out is the fifth injury: Jose Bosingwa is absolutely out, having had arthroscopic surgery the other day. His recovery time is expected to be 3 months.

For those that are interested in Arsenal’s injury news ahead of the match, the press had been quiet, but Wenger has given us some clues:

Bendtner: Groin surgery, no doubt an injury sustained… erm… with the Armless Baroness, three more weeks minimum.

Wilshere: Didn’t play in the England U-21 win over Portugal, expected to start against City in the Carling Cup.

Fabianski: Should be fit by the 29th, but Wenger is calling Almunia the first choice keeper for the time being.

Walcott: Starts training next week, will probably be short of fitness by the 29th, though he does like to score on them and could be a super sub.

Denilson: Starts training very soon. Could play in the Chelsea match.

Vela: Mystery knee injury, Wenger keeps saying “any day now” when he remembers that Vela exists.

Clichy: back fracture, will not be fit by the 29th.

Traore: No longer injured.

So, there you have it, a bit of actual news and analysis for those of you who complain about my sense of humor.