The international break can throw the best laid plans and contingency strategies into disarray, for even the most experienced Premier League managers. With all league action suspended until the 4th of April, the Analyst examines the sides and players hit the hardest.
Call Ups: Welbeck, Walcott, Gibbs (England), Giroud, Koscielny (France), Sanchez (Chile), Paulista (Brazil), Ospina (Colombia), Ozil (Germany), Ramsey (Wales), Rosicky (Czech Republic), Cazorla (Spain)
The Premier League’s undisputed form team – winning six games on the bounce – Arsenal have climbed just one point short of Manchester City in second place. Taking on Liverpool, Chelsea and relegation battlers Burnley across the following three Gameweeks, Arsene Wenger could do without the disruption of international football breaking up his team’s stready rhythm. Sanchez, Ozil and Ramsey all enjoy key player status for both club and country and their international involvement could prove catastrophic, should one succumb to injury abroad.
England trio Walcott, Gibbs and Welbeck meanwhile are all expected to feature in some capacity over their two international fixtures, while Olivier Giroud – the form player in the league – and Laurent Koscielny are unlikely starters, given their position in the France pecking order. Current PlayON favourite Santi Cazorla could see some game time, but is unlikely to occupy a starting berth for La Roja.
Call Ups: Henderson, Sterling (England), Allen (Wales), Skrtel (Slovakia), Sakho (France), Coutinho (Brazil), Mignolet (Belgium), Markovic (Serbia)
Raheem Sterling carries a toe injury but remains firmly with the England camp, while Daniel Sturridge and Adam Lallana were pulled from contention – raising further suspicions over tensions between respective managers, Rodgers and Hodgson.
Aside from the England participants, Phil Coutinho could face fatigue going into Liverpool’s crucial Gameweek 31 clash with Arsenal, if the rumours of him inheriting the Brazil no. 10 slot are to be believed. Mamadou Sakho is a surefire starter for France under Didier Deschamps, while his club defensive partner Martin Skrtel can play with total commitment and impunity following his three game Premier League suspension.
Call Ups: Rooney, Smalling, Jones, Carrick (England), Evans, McNair (Northern Ireland), Di Maria, Rojo (Argentina), De Gea (Spain), Falcao (Colombia), Fellaini (Belgium), Blind (Netherlands), Valencia (Ecuador)
“Make sure you come back fit this time” – warned Louis van Gaal as Daley Blind departed for international duty. With United now entering their strongest and most crucial phase of the season so far, it’s easy to understand van Gaal’s concerns; Blind has become a key performer in this United side and losing any of their starting line-up to injury and exhaustion could deal a huge blow to their Champions League qualification aspirations.
The England men are the most numerous international departures, with captain Rooney, defensive pair Jones and Smalling, and experienced head Michael Carrick, all joining up with the England camp. United’s outstanding player of the season, David De Gea, competes with captain Iker Casillas for a place between the Spanish sticks. Di Maria and Rojo meanwhile, are expected to both start for Argentina under Tata Martino.