Unfortunately it’s that time of year again when international breaks seem to be coming thick and fast. Another round of Euro Qualifiers and international friendlies have been and gone so it’s time once again to review the performances of all the Chelsea players called up for International Duty.
Although he appears to have become number 1 for his country, it’s fair to say our Spanish shot stopper didn’t have the best of times on international duty. Against Norway, he made an awful mistake which ended up costing Spain the win. He came flying out of his goal to punch a cross however mistimed it horribly and ended up punching the striker in the head. Josh King then tucked away the penalty to level the game. Kepa also made a 30 minute cameo against Sweden after De Gea went off injured. Hopefully that was just a blip and he will be back to usual against Newcastle.
Despite an indifferent start to the season for Christensen, he and his national team continued their impressive run in qualification. Denmark still remain one of four teams who are still unbeaten in their group. The others are Spain, Belgium and Italy so they are in elite company. This is somewhat due to the impressive defensive partnership struck up between Christensen and Kjaer. Christensen himself made 4 tackles and interceptions against Switzerland and put up a 90% pass accuracy. So despite his often shaky start to the season, he is still playing well for the national team.
Kurt Zouma and N’Golo Kante
Two of our Frenchmen didn’t feature in either of Frances qualifiers against Iceland and Turkey. Zouma is far from a first choice centre back for the national team, while Kante was injured in the warm up before their first game. Zouma should be fit to play against Newcastle, and Kante could return against Ajax.
Our newly named vice-captain once again played exceptionally. Whether it be for club or country, he just rarely has a bad game. Against Greece, he ran the show. 80 passes out of 87. 2 chances created, 2 shots on target and one penalty scored. The stats speak for themselves. In fact his penalty took his career total to 16 out of 17. The hop clearly works. Then against Lichtenstein, he was given a rest as Mancini made 9 changes.
The international injury curse struck again as Mateo Kovacic picked up an injury in Croatia’s 1-1 draw with Wales. Until that point he had played well, creating a chance and making a tackle. It didn’t look to serious, and Lampard has confirmed he’s in contention for Newcastle. I’m not sure I could handle watching Ross Barkley for too long.
Like most of the England team, Barkley was underwhelming against the Czech Republic. In his 20 min substitute appearance he failed to do anything of note. However, like the whole of the England team, he turned it around against Bulgaria. He picked up 2 goals and an assist in the 6-0 thrashing in a game that made the headlines for all the wrong reasons. It was a great performance from the midfielder, but how often have we seen a Barkley masterclass against lower tier opposition. It happened against Grimsby and it’s happened again here. He still shouldn’t be anywhere near the first team but it might happen against Newcastle with current injuries. God help us if it does.
Mount’s great start to the season was rewarded with his first start for England against Czech. Unfortunately, none of the eleven put out for that game seemed to be up for it and the three lions suffered an embarrassing loss. Mount had a poor game. He did make 2 chances but made no dribbles and missed 3 tackles. Then against Bulgaria, in his 15 minutes he managed a shot on target and won three duels. Hopefully he’ll be back firing on all cylinders for Newcastle at the weekend.
USA played the first two games of the inaugural CONCACAF Nations League against Cuba and Canada. Whilst they recorded a record 7-0 win over Cuba in the first game, they suffered their countries first ever loss to Canada in the second. Pulisic scored a penalty against Cuba to top off an excellent performance but I’m sure will be disappointed to not have helped the team get a result against the Canadians. Just like many other fans, I’m hoping our favourable run of fixtures will give him a chance to really kick start his Chelsea career.
After his first goal of the season against Southampton, Michy looked to carry the form into Belgium’s games against San Marino and Kazakhstan. He didn’t feature in the 9-0 battering of San Marino but was given a start against the Kazakhs. He rewarded Martinez’s faith in him with a well taken goal. However upon looking a bit deeper, he didn’t actually have the best of games. He only managed 2 shots and only made 16 passes in the whole 90. Pretty ineffective if you ask me. Despite his impressive goal scoring form for his nation, I still think he’s best suited to come off the bench or be starting in the cup competition. Michy just isn’t good enough to displace Abraham.
What is it about Olivier Giroud that makes him so good when he’s wearing the blue of France? He scored both their goals over this international break, with a penalty against Iceland and another against Turkey. In the Iceland game he was his usual self, linking up play with wingers but still taking his chances when he gets them. However it’s fair to say he was less influential in the second game against Turkey. He only played 18 minutes and scored 1 goal, but only managed 1 pass. I still believe he can be a useful player for us, especially as we are competing in four competitions but I don’t expect him to be as important as he was last year.
Tammy Abraham & Fikayo Tomori
Despite arguably being our 2 best players this year, it still wasn’t enough for our two young Englishman to get any considerable minutes for the Three Lions. Although I don’t blame Southgate. Abraham has been good so far this year, and has outscored Kane thus far, but he probably isn’t worthy of replacing the captain just yet. Similarly with Tomori, he has been excellent for the Blues so far, and is worthy of his call up but I’m not sure his performances warrant a starting place just yet. I’m sure the pair will be stalwarts of national team one day but we will have to be a little bit patient to see that day.