The Premier League may have been dormant over the weekend, but many of its players were in action for their respective countries. We discuss some of the notable talking points from the international break so far.
English players in form
A 4-0 victory over Lithuania will serve as a timely confidence boost for some of England’s top players going into the final eight weeks of the season. Players such as Gary Cahill and Danny Welbeck have been struggling for form in recent weeks, but will now return to their clubs feeling refreshed by the change of scenery.
Welbeck has endured a trying first season at Arsenal, finding himself either shunted out wide or on the bench more than he would like. In this game, though, he played with real menace; his pace and movement giving the Lithuanian defence far more than it could handle. Hopefully, this will spark a good run of form to finish out the season.
Others, such as Spurs’ Harry Kane, continued to ride the crest of the wave – scoring just two minutes into his international debut. Kane has been the standout striker in the Premier League since his first start of the season – in week 11. This cameo showed there is no reason to suggest his form will dip between now and the end of the season.
Lithuania are hardly the toughest of opponents, but there have been plenty of times in recent memory when England have failed to put inferior opponents to the sword. This group of players will warrant particular attention in Gameweek 31.
Man Utd players make big impact
Manchester United’s players entered the international break in fine form after victories over Spurs and Liverpool, and many of them continued in this vein for their countries. Wayne Rooney, Michael Carrick and Phil Jones all featured during England’s 4-0 victory over Lithuania, with Rooney opening the scoring.
Elsewhere, Marouane Fellaini was at his devastating best for Belgium. The bruising midfielder scored twice against Cyprus, including a spectacular curled effort from outside the area. Even Radamel Falcao got in on the act – with two goals and an assist for his native Columbia against Bahrain. Could the star striker be in line for a bigger role as we near the end of the season?
Only United’s Spanish contingent can have any cause to feel aggreived. David De Gea was left on the bench in favour of Iker Casillas, while Juan Mata and Ander Herrera failed to make the squad despite their excellent recent form.
Injury bug bites Swansea and Arsenal
There is nothing Premier League managers hate more than their players returning home injured after an international break. At this point, it appears as though Gary Monk and Arsene Wenger are the bosses most affected.
Monk saw Jefferson Montero get injured in Uruguay’s game against Mexico, while Wenger will be worrying about the fitness of Danny Welbeck and Aaron Ramsey, both of whom picked up knocks.
With a crucial game against Liverpool on Saturday, Arsenal fans will be hoping these injuries are little more than knocks, but it does highlight the risk these breaks pose for club managers, particularly at this point in the season.