Picture: 123RF/TOMASZ TRYBUS
Picture: 123RF/TOMASZ TRYBUS

London — Normally managers of English Premier League sides have a chance to relax a little during international breaks, but these are not normal times.

Clubs will be releasing players to travel the globe to play for their national teams in World Cup and African Nations Cup qualifiers hoping they return free of Covid-19.

Covid-19 worries for managers ahead of break

International breaks are always a worrying time for club managers but with Covid-19 still surging in various parts of Europe, the next 10 days or so will be especially anxious ones.

West Ham manager David Moyes has Tomas Soucek and Vladimir Coufal joining up with the Czech Republic squad, while Lukasz Fabianski will be off playing for Poland. Both of those countries are still experiencing high infection rates and Moyes admits it is a worry.

“It is a bit of a concern for us. A couple of times going to the Czech Republic it has not been so good, they had problems the last two times from what I can remember,” Moyes said. “We have had reassurances from all the doctors from all the nations that everything will be correct and all the bubbles will be correct and I think Uefa have a responsibility as well that everything is carried out correctly and that there is no way that anything could be compromised.”

Ominous signs for Bruce

Steve Bruce can look world-weary even when his sides are doing well, but the Newcastle United manager’s mood after Saturday’s crushing 3-0 defeat at Brighton and Hove Albion left him looking utterly despondent.

It was not just the scoreline, but the manner in which his side appeared to accept their fate on the south coast. They hardly looked like a team fighting for their top-flight lives. Bruce is the bookmakers’ favourite to be the next Premier League manager to lose his job and whether he remains in charge after the international break is questionable.

While Newcastle remain two points above the bottom three, gravity appears to be pulling them down and the club’s owners might decide the “bounce” a squad can get when a new face takes over might be their best hope of survival.

Mystifying Arsenal

For 38 minutes at the London Stadium on Sunday Arsenal were about as bad as a team full of internationals could be. They lacked fight, craft and organisation and were 3-0 down to a bubbling West Ham United.

Then Alexandre Lacazette’s deflected effort changed everything. In the second half they attacked in waves, pinned West Ham into their own half and produced the type of quality football that belies their ninth place in the table.

No wonder manager Mikel Arteta looked a little baffled after a 3-3 draw. “We didn’t look at the race ... but the other [part] is top level and probably the best we play all season,” he said. “We could have scored six or seven goals and won the game, but we cannot have two faces.”

Villa overly reliant on Grealish

Sometimes a player’s value to a team can even increase when he is missing with an injury and that is the case with Aston Villa captain and playmaker Jack Grealish.

Tottenham might have breathed a collective sigh of relief when it was announced he was not able to make his return on Sunday, especially after their torrid week.

Villa have won only once in the six matches he has missed and against Tottenham they lacked guile in the final third as they slumped to a 2-0 defeat. Manager Dean Smith said his players “cannot just wait for Jack to be back” though he said he will return after the international break.

Reuters

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