What will Arsenal look like when Mesut Özil and Santi Cazorla get on the field together? We may have to wait a little longer to find out, and not because the Spaniard’s ankle injury lingers. He’s expected to play on Saturday when the Gunners host Norwich City.
Instead it’s Özil that may miss this weekend’s match, the German playmaker having picked up a knee injury in Tuesday’ game against Sweden. Germany won the game 5-3, with Özil contributing his eighth goal of the qualifying campaign, but he also left the game in the 82nd minute, a challenge leading to his late-match substitution.
The extend of the damage is still unknown, with Özil said to have had his knee evaluated by Arsenal’s staff on Wednesday. The team hopes the injury’s little more than bruising, though given the extent of Özil’s limp at the end of Tuesday’s match, that may be enough to prevent him from appearing against the Canaries.
Cazorla, who missed Spain’s game with an ankle injury incurred on the previous international break, should be able to assume some of Özil’s playmaking load, though having been out of action since Arsenal’s 1-0 win over Spurs, the attacking midfielder may need to shake off some rust. It’s now been 45 days since Cazorla appeared in a Premier League game.
But with a match this coming Tuesday against Borussia Dortmund, Arsenal may yet have their first choice attacking midfield in place for their big Champions League test. Not only is Cazorla returning and Özil likely to be ready, but Theo Walcott, out since having abdominal surgery last month, is nearing a full return. Though it’s unlikely the stars will align to allow the trio to start being Giroud against Dortmund, a full strength Arsenal starting XI is not that far away.
The group stage of qualification is complete, as 20 teams have clinched a berth at EURO 2016, which kicks off next summer in France.
The top-two finishers in each group automatically qualified, as did the best third-place side out of all the groups (Turkey). France qualified automatically as the host nation.
[ MORE: EURO 2016 roundup ]
That leaves eight third-place teams to battle for the final four spots through a play-off. The draw for the matchups will take place on October 18, and those matches will be held from November 12-17 as a home-and-home play-off.
- Czech Republic
- Turkey (automatically qualified as best third-place side)
- Bosnia and Herzegovina (qualified for play-off)
- Ukraine (qualified for play-off)
- Republic of Ireland (qualified for play-off)
- Slovenia (qualified for play-off)
- Northern Ireland
- Hungary (qualified for play-off)
- Sweden (qualified for play-off)
- Norway (qualified for play-off)
- Denmark (qualified for play-off)
The group stage of qualifying for the 2016 European Championship has come to a close, and one of the top teams in the world will not be playing in France next summer.
Netherlands 2-3 Czech Republic
The Netherlands finished second at the 2010 World Cup and third at the 2014 World Cup, but have failed to qualify for EURO 2016. Playing in front of a home crowd in a must-win match against the Czech Republic, the Dutch got off to a dreadful start, falling behind 2-0 as manager Danny Blind was forced to make a substitution within the opening 40 minutes. The Czech Republic was sent to ten men before the break, but an own-goal from Robin Van Persie made it 3-0 as the Dutch couldn’t recover. A disastrous result for the Netherlands, as big changes will surely come from the top down.
[ RELATED: David de Gea fighting for starting goalkeeper position with Spain ]
Italy 2-1 Norway
Italy finishes atop Group H without a loss after defeating Norway 2-1 today. Norway took the lead through Norwich City’s Alexander Tettey, but late goals from Alessandro Florenzi and Southampton’s Graziano Pelle gave the Italians all three points.
Malta 0-1 Croatia
With Norway’s loss, Croatia jumped into second place in Group H and secured qualification to EURO 2016 with a 1-0 win away at Malta. Inter Milan’s Ivan Perisic scored the game’s only goal, as Croatia advances despite having one point deducted due to inappropriate actions from their fans.
Elsewhere in EURO qualifying
Turkey 1-0 Iceland
Latvia 0-1 Kazakhstan
Belgium 3-1 Israel
Wales 2-0 Andorra
Cyprus 2-3 Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bulgaria 2-0 Azerbaijan