We all agree that the international break is the
most depressing moment in the life of an Arsenal fan, especially when his club
has just signed Mesut Özil. I mean: Mesut Fucking ÖZIL!
But something that can be very depressing is being a
French Arsenal fan who tries to spend this boring break by watching his
national team play boring football. And trust me, the French Team is nowadays a
subtle incarnation of the word “boring”. Fortunately, our three Gunners, for at
least one of the games, were part of the starting eleven of Didier Deschamps,
had done the job.
Let’s start with the most impressive performer,
Laurent “The Boss” Koscielny. The Frenchman did (again) a great job at the back.
Koscielny was the wall he usually is, close to his direct opponent and strong
on every challenge. He can also be a threat on the counter, using his speed
effectively. For a lot of French fans (I mean, not only Arsenal fans), Laurent
is now the best French defender who clearly can’t be removed from the team.
The main concern is his partner. So far in 2013,
Koscielny has played with four players alongside him: Mamadou Sakho, Raphael Varane,
Eliaquim Mangala and Eric Abidal. Playing with different partners in central
defence is already a hard task at his club (every Gooner can easily be agreed)
but it is nearly the impossible on international duty. Fortunately, his defensive
backline with Abidal playing as left the centre-back seems to be solid, even if
they suffered a lot against Belarus. But the very gifted Varane still seems to
be the most reliable to play alongside the Boss.
Another key player in Deschamps’s mind is Bacary
Sagna. In his current position on the right flank, Bacary has to also deal with
a lot of different players in front of him and different team organisations
too. His work as a right-back is really different in a 4-4-2 than a 4-2-3-1.
Fortunately, Deschamps has chosen the latter, much closer to an Arsenal style
of play. But, the main concern for Sagna is also his partner of the right: Jeremy
Menez, Mathieu Valbuena, Dimitri Payet, and several others, have been used to
play on the right wing. And each time, Sagna has needed to adapt. Consequences
of a defensive manner are none, but it can be a real concern when it’s time to
go forward. Still, Sagna did his job, especially in defence, and also in
offence, with several good crosses in the second half against Georgia.
Let’s talk about Olivier Giroud. Big Ollie played
the full two games for France in a striker role, which seems to show Didier
Deschamps is seeing him as the number one in this role. Against Georgia,
Deschamps used him in a kind of 4-4-2, alongside Karim Benzema, and the result
was, at least, awful. Giroud was left alone, receiving no ammo except for very
late in the game, after Benzema was brought off and replaced by Andre-Pierre Gignac.
Unfortunately, the Gunner failed to score with a beautiful header chance late
Against Belarus, France reverted back to their 4-2-3-1
formation, which was much more accustomed to Giroud, by playing him in his
typical Arsenal role. And despite the fact that Ollie did not score, he was
very efficient, good in pressing tasks, committed in every dangerous situation
and all the French goals by creating space for Franck Ribery, Mathieu Valbuena
and Samir Nasri.
France are now in an uncomfortable situation,
assuming Spain are now 99% sure to finish top of the group (two games, at home,
against Belarus and Georgia). France are in a must-win situation against
Finland, at Stade de France, to maximise their chance of being the second best team
in the group. Didier Deschamps’s side has for the moment the best goalscoring
rate in group I, with two goals more than the Spanish team. A point which could
be vital in the end.
But hey, what matters is that our three Gunners are
well and safe, ready to play against Sunderland on Saturday, along with Mesut
Özil. I mean Mesut.Fucking.Özil. Because he’s a Gunner too.