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Arsenal’s November international recap: Torreira shines, Xhaka qualifies for Euro 2020 with Switzerland

Arsenal’s midfield duo orchestrate strong performances and the youngsters impress

Switzerland v Georgia - UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifier Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images

For the final time in 2019, an international break came calling for a two-week hiatus of club football. This time around, 13 Arsenal players were called up for international duty. Among the 13 players, seven of them featured in tournament qualification fixtures for their national team.

Here’s how the international Gunners performed over the break.

Granit Xhaka - Switzerland

Switzerland finished at the top of Group D with 17 points and officially clinched a spot in the 2020 UEFA European Championship. Granit Xhaka was the catalyst for the Swiss against Georgia and Gibraltar. Over the two games, Xhaka controlled play in both the attack and defense; he completed a combined five tackles and created a total of seven goal-scoring chances.

The Swiss international capped off his performances with a late goal against Gibraltar in the crucial 6-1 win.

Lucas Torreira - Uruguay

To no one’s surprise, Lucas Torreira shone once again for the Uruguayan national team. Torriera played a mere 23 minutes against Hungary, but it was his performance against Argentina that has received high praise.

Torriera played as a defensive midfielder in Uruguay’s 4-1-4-1 formation against Argentina and essentially displayed his ability playing as a lone pivot. Torriera completed 35 out of 36 passes and recorded a game-high seven interceptions.

The workhorse midfielder was also influential in the attack as he found Luis Suarez in Argentina’s low block, which resulted in a simple though ball to Cavani for the opening goal of the contest.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang - Gabon

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang featured in the opening fixtures in the 2021 African Cup of Nations qualifiers. He started for Gabon in games against DR Congo and Angola. He was active in the attack over the two games with a combined eight total shots, but ultimately did not factor in the scoresheet. With a win and a draw, Gabon stand at second in their qualification group.

Nicolas Pepe - Ivory Coast

Nicolas Pepe also played in the first two fixtures of the 2021 African Cup of Nations qualifications. Pepe did not have much success in the attack against Niger and Ethiopia, but he did win a penalty kick for Ivory Coast after a cutting run into the box.

Sead Kolasinac - Bosnia and Herzegovina

Sead Kolasinac was called up for the final two fixtures of the Euro 2020 qualifications, but only played in the 3-0 loss to Italy. For the most part, Kolasinac struggled to control his left flank as Federico Bernardeschi, Nicolo Barella and Alessandro Florenzi had no trouble navigating their way to the final third.

Bukayo Saka - England U19

Among the 13 players called up for international duty, Bukayo Saka had arguably the most promising performances. Saka played in two of three games for the England U19 national team in 2020 Euro U19 qualification fixtures. He recorded an assist against Luxembourg, and showed good technique with his positioning on the goal against Macedonia.

Emile Smith-Rowe - England U20

Emile Smith-Rowe continued the string of superb performances from Arsenal’s youngsters with a strong showing against Portugal U20. The 20-year-old was the team’s creative anchor in the attack with a goal and an assist in the 4-0 win.

Reiss Nelson and Joe Willock - England U21

Both Reiss Nelson and Joe Willock featured in the 2021 Euro qualification fixture against Albania U21. Willock started the game in the midfield and created a trio of goal-scoring chances. Nelson came off the bench and did the most with his minutes as he scored a late goal to clinch the 3-0 win to push England U21 to 1st place in their qualifying group.

Gabriel Martinelli - Brazil U23

Thanks to a stellar seven goals in nine games start with Arsenal this season, Gabriel Martinelli received his first ever call-up to feature for the Brazil U23 team. He factored in both fixtures against the United States U23 and Argentina U23 teams for the United International Football Festival friendly tournament. The Brazilian did well in the attack with a superb 83% of passes completed to the final third but did not finish either game.

Matteo Guendouzi (France), Bernd Leno (Germany) and Emiliano Martinez (Argentina) were also among those called up for international duty, but none of them featured in a game for their country. France and Germany went on to officially stamp their ticket for Euro 2020 while Argentina came away with two impressive friendly performances against rivals Brazil and Uruguay.

Most importantly for Arsenal, no injuries were reported over the international break. All the focus now, finally, shifts to this weekend’s pivotal league fixture against Southampton.