Mikel Arteta says Arsenal should be proud of having four players in the England squad after Ben White, Emile Smith Rowe, Bukayo Saka and Aaron Ramsdale were called up for upcoming friendlies with Switzerland and Ivory Coast.
The quartet – average age 22 – have been in stellar form for the Gunners this season and eight months out from the World Cup have a first chance of the year to stake their claim for a place on the plane to Qatar.
“I’m really happy,” said Arteta in his weekly press conference, “especially for the boys because they deserve to be there.
“They work so hard and I know how much it means for them to represent their country, and as a club I think we have to be very proud that our players are in the frontline and being noticed. It’s been a long time since that happened so I think it’s a good sign.”
Asked what he puts their call-ups down to, the boss added: “Their efforts, how much they want it, obviously their quality, their ability, and then obviously what they’re doing performance-wise to get the attention of the England manager.”
While Arsenal had six players selected by Roy Hodgson for Euro 2016 qualifiers (Calum Chambers, Kieran Gibbs, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Theo Walcott, Danny Welbeck and Jack Wilshere), it’s been eight years since four Gunners were on the pitch at the same time for England. It feels like there’s a real possibility of that happening at Wembley in the coming weeks.
Before they turn their attention to international duty, the players first have to get themselves back on track domestically as Arsenal take on Aston Villa.
Wednesday’s defeat to Liverpool was frustrating and particularly for Ramsdale who came in for criticism for failing to keep out Diego Jota’s opener which was rifled in at the keeper’s near post. Arteta admits his summer signing was disappointed.
“Oddly he was gutted after the match,” revealed the boss. “It’s normal because he’s such a competitive boy, but he needs to realise that this is going to happen in your career.
“At this stage, and if you play for the national team, probably you are going to have a moment when you do something, and then instead of some part of the country, it will be the whole country (on your back).
“If you want to be at the top for 10, 15 or 20 years you have to be prepared for that. It’s about how you react in those moments.”
He noted the player’s reaction has been “top” before adding: “He’s very critical of himself so sometimes he needs to have some help to put things into perspective, and for him to realise as well how much he has contributed to the team.”