Premier Flaneur: International Play

By Sam Noel | The Duquesne Duke

There’s an old cliché in soccer that just about describes this past week: “For club and country!” You may have noticed there was no Premier League action this weekend but many of the stars of the league were in action for their countries as international friendly matches and European Cup qualifying matches took place.

International play is certainly helpful for a player. Experience playing for your country is crucial for a player’s development, but at the same time it can be damaging for a club team. As is so often, a player engaging in international play can injure himself in a match and be sidelined for a number of weeks for their club team. This was evident this past week as Manchester City/Argentinian star striker Sergio Aguero was injured. Aguero is going to be on the sideline for the next six to eight weeks due to a hamstring injury suffered in Argentina’s match with Ecuador.

League leaders Manchester City has to be upset with how this happened as he was injured on duty with Argentina and not with his club team. Many teams have argued against international play as it puts their players that they have invested heavy amounts of money in at risk. And now, Aguero, who is second in the league in scoring, is set to miss Manchester City’s upcoming matches against local rivals Manchester United, Liverpool and potentially Italian giants Juventus in the UEFA Champions League.

You can see the effect that injuries on international break can damage a club, by closely paying attention to their ensuing performances. In the past couple of years, Arsenal has been the victim of this curse, as many of their star players were injured playing for their country. Two years ago, it was Jack Wilshere who suffered a broken foot on duty with England that forced him out of action for more than six weeks. Arsenal is a team with a well-known history of injury issues and this was not the first for Wilshere either. He is currently on the sidelines now due to a fractured fibula suffered on September 15.

It was manager Arsene Wenger’s hope that there would be no injuries during the break.

“My plan is to pray now that everyone comes back from international games without any injury because we have a small group,” Wenger said according to the official Arsenal website.

And his prayers were answered, as fortunately enough for Arsenal, none of their players were severely injured this week.

So, it was tale of two contrasting fortunes for the top two teams in England during international break. Manchester City will have to go on without their star player for a few weeks, and Arsenal will be hoping their healthy form continues.