Arshavin is in Dublin tonight, playing against Ireland.
Jack Wilshere will be playing for England Under 21s against Romania.
Thomas Rosicky captains the Czech Republic in Prague. They play Scotland, who beat them in a friendly at Hampden in March. Can Craig Levein’s men score a goal against the still-formidable Petr Cech?
I reckon Fabio Capello has to establish Phil Jagielka, a young boy of 28, in England’s back four. Will tell you why in a minute.
ANR readers tell me almost every day that, “Your boy Arshavin is fat and lazy and doesn’t track back. He’s a disgrace.” I’m assuming that those readers will not be watching Robbie Keane, Shay Given and John O’Shea take on Arshavin, Zhirkov and Akinfeev tonight.
Former Celtic winger Aiden McGeady is now playing well for Moscow Spartak and has surprised national coach Dick Advocaat by settling quickly in a new league.
England Under-21s have two play-off games against Romania.
Tonight the sides meet in front of a sold-out crowd of 25,000 at Carrow Road.
Stuart Pearce has said that Wilshere might not join up with the England seniors tomorrow. It depends on whether Capello wants Jack for the Montenegro game on Tuesday.
Blackburn centreback Phil Jones says, “Jack’s an unbelievable talent. He loves to run with the ball. He can’t get past me though! He’s a great player but there are other great players in this squad.”
Bolton Striker Kevin Davies, 33, could become one of the oldest England debutants on Tuesday night, and since Wilshere and Davies know each other very well, that could be a factor. Anybody who can help Capello beat Montenegro is likely to be in the bench at Wembley.
Rio Ferdinand and John Terry have only played together nine times in Fabio Capello’s 31 games as England manager.
Rio played in six qualifiers for 2010, made the plane, and got injured by Heskey in England’s first training session. With his injury record, Rio can’t be the future for England or, indeed, Manchester United. JT is back on form but well past his prime. He tried to lead a mutiny in South Africa before England staff talked him out of it.
My best guess is that Capello wants to establish Jagielka in his team and then replace Terry. The manager was a tournament virgin who made big mistakes in the World Cup and I hope he learned some lessons.
I’d love to be in Berlin tonight.
It should be a great atmosphere with 33,000 Turkish fans cheering on their team against Joachim Low’s young German outfit, who include Real Madrid’s Mesut Ozil, a gifted midfielder of Turkish descent.
Whenever I think about those Turkish immigrants, I always remember Fear Eats The Soul, a film about an inter-racial love affair that I saw at the Edinburgh Festival. Probably the first Fassbinder film ever shown in the UK. I realised very quickly that Fassbinder was a genius and that this movie was a 24-carat masterpiece. Cinematic gold from first frame to last. One of those films that stays with you forever.
A case can be made for Belgium doing what Denmark did in 1992.
REPUBLIC (probable) 4-4-2 Given; O’Shea, Dunne, St Ledger, Kilbane; Lawrence, Whelan, Green, McGeady; Doyle, Keane
Subs Westwood, Cunningham, Kelly, McShane, Gibson, Keogh, Fahey, Long.
RUSSIA (probable) 4-3-3 Akinfeev; Anyukov, V. Berezutsky, Ignashevich, Zhirkov; Semshov, Zyryanov, Shirokov; Bystrov, Pogrebnyak, Arshavin
Subs Gabulov, Bilyaletdinov, Mamaev, A. Berezutsky, Parshivlyuk, Denisov, Bukharov, Dzagoev, Kerzhakov. (Pavlyuchenko is injured)