Rub your lucky rabbit paws, light your candles, and break out your rosaries -- international play is upon us, and no less than 14 Arsenal players are involved in matches today and Tuesday. The majority, of course, are involved in the final UEFA group qualifiers -- the good news (from a selfish, don't-let-our-players-get-injured Arsenal fan's perspective) is that a number of the national teams involved are either about to punch their tickets for Brazil or are about to be eliminated entirely. However, teams like France and England may be looking at home-and-away playoff matches in November in order to qualify, depending on today's and Tuesday's results. A full lineup is on Arsenal.com, but here's a quick run-down:
Jack Wilshere and Kieran Gibbs are involved with England's matches against Montenegro today and Poland on Tuesday. Of course, England's squad is a bit depleted because of two injuries we'll all well aware of -- namely, to Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain -- plus Ashley Cole's out, which opened the door to Gibbs' call-up.
Carl Jenkinson, while we're on the subject of England, has been called up for the U-21 team's matches for the first time, to take on San Marino and Lithuania.
Wojciech Szczesny and Lukas Fabianski have been called up for Poland's matches against Ukraine and England. This is likely their last call-up related to WC 2014.
Mesut Özil and Per Mertesacker have been called up for Germany's matches against Ireland today and Sweden on Tuesday. Being arguably the best national team in the world and all, Ze Germans only need two draws or a win to win its group and avoid the playoff grind.
Olivier Giroud and Laurent Koscielny were called up for France's friendly today with Australia and its final group game Tuesday against Finland. As we reported earlier in the week, Koscielny will be held out of today's match with a calf strain; it's most likely France will face November playoffs, seeing that Spain's in their group.
Speaking of Spain, Nacho Monreal's being called up for Team Pass-Happy's matches against Belarus and Georgia. One win sends them through.
Belgium's also in pole position in its group -- a draw or win in either today's match against Croatia or Tuesday's game against Wales allows them to win their group, and Thomas Vermaelen's been called up to help them get there.
You can infer from this that Wales isn't going anywhere, but Aaron Ramsey's been called up nonetheless, sure to see action against Macedonia today and/or Belgium on Tuesday.
Nicklas Bendtner, after his, errrr, hiatus from the Danish national team, has been called up for the team's matches against Italy on Friday and Malta on Tuesday. They're sitting a point below Bulgaria for second place in their group; one guess who's already won their group.
And finally, the Frimpong will be released, as Dench has been called up for Ghana's Tuesday match against Egypt -- the first leg in a home-and-away playoff to be concluded in November for one of CAF's five World Cup berths.