13th November 2015: International involvement and remembering Lauren

Good evening. It’s Friday the 13th today of course and we all know what that means don’t we? Absolutely nothing.

Last night saw the first Arsenal involvement in the internationals as Alexis Sanchez and David Ospina both played the full 90 minutes when their respective nations, Chile and Columbia, played out a 1-1 draw. I didn’t see the match, Sanchez didn’t score, but I’m assuming he ran non-stop all game and then did a few hundred laps of the pitch afterwards just for fun.

There were also two more Gunners in action yesterday evening as Calum Chambers played the full 90 and Chuba Akpom the first 70, for England Under 21’s as they drew 0-0 with their Bosnian counterparts. I’m told it was a fascinating watch.

So on to tonight and Olivier Giroud scored the opener for France as they beat World Cup winners Germany 2-0. He was then taken off after 69 minutes but Laurent Koscielny played the whole game, so thanks Didier Deschamps, really appreciate it.

Elsewhere, Santi Cazorla came on a substitute for Thiago Alcantara just before the 30 minute mark and scored Spain’s second with a clinically taken effort as they beat England 2-0, for whom Kieran Gibbs was an unused sub. There were a few other Arsenal players in action tonight too, so for a comprehensive round-up take a look at the the official site here.

The international break can be a great time to take a look back and Arsene Wenger has been doing just that in discussing one of the lesser-celebrated members of our Invincibles team, Lauren.

My personal anecdotes about the Cameroonian include reading the name Lauren Bisan Etame Mayer on CEEFAX when we confirmed his capture and having no idea who he was but being excited nontheless as I always am by an Arsenal signing I know nothing about. Sure, they could turn out to be Stefan Malz but equally there’s always the chance they’ll be another Patrick Vieira.

After watching him a few times though, I labelled him ‘a right-footed Edgar Davids’ and I think he scored in that win over Liverpool at Highbury when Vieira was sent off for the second, consecutive Premier League game of the season and had to be talked out of leaving England. But more importantly, and I kid you not, I tipped him to replace the aging Lee Dixon as our next right-back before Arsene eventually played him there for the first time. In fairness, I also said I could see Emmanuel Eboue as a brilliant left winger, so …

Anyway, here’s what Arsene said:

He was, for me, one of the best full backs in the world. Not only because of his quality but he was a character, a real character. He was scared of nobody and when you needed the nerves you could count on Lauren. When he arrived here I had many discussions with him as I needed to convince him that he can become a right back and an outstanding right back. For a while, because he was a strong character, he didn’t accept it. Suddenly he understood that and I think that in Lauren and Ashley Cole, we had the best two full backs in the world.

My favourite memory of Lauren, aside from him bullying Ruud van Horse-face, was his FA Cup goal at Stamford Bridge as he ran down the right, cut infield onto his weaker left foot and found the bottom corner at the near post. What a goal.

I think in Hector Bellerin, we finally have a player capable of similar attacking feats from right-back now, which I think we’ve missed sorely through the Bacary Sagna years. Yes the Bac was a great defender, but he was a little clumsy on the ball for me and didn’t add much going forward the way Lauren did and Bellerin does now.

It’s an important point too, having fullbacks who are great on the ball, because in our style of play, with our wide midfielders/attackers often drifting infield, our fullbacks see a lot of the ball and so them being comfortable in possession is a massive plus, if not a must, in my opinion.

See you on Saturday.

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