Granit Xhaka and Kieran Tierney are taking the ‘break’ out of ‘international break’, playing another 90 minutes each on Thursday.
Xhaka has started every league game since Boxing Day, as well as all of the Europa League fixtures and one of the two FA Cup matches. Tierney has started and played 90 minutes in Arsenal’s last eight games in a row since returning to full fitness.
If you thought things would be any different on international duty, you were wrong. Both started and completed 90 minutes of their opening games of the break on Thursday.
Xhaka was heavily involved in Switzerland’s 3-1 win over Bulgaria, completing 113 of his 119 attempted passes on the day. It’s no surprise to see that his team had 70% possession as he captained them to the top of their World Cup qualifying group.
Despite the win, Xhaka was disappointed with the way his team let their opponents back into the game with an early second-half goal.
“It shouldn’t happen to us to bring our opponents back into the game like that,” Xhaka said. “[But] that was the start we wanted. Now we’re hoping for three points against Lithuania – and then we’re aiming for 1st place.”
Meanwhile, Tierney was playing as a centre-back on the left of a back three in Scotland’s 2-2 draw with Austria.
Tierney was nowhere near as busy as Xhaka on the ball, but he had plenty more to do defensively. He made five clearances, two interceptions, two tackles and won 10 of his 12 individual duels, as well as winning five free-kicks.
The Daily Record gave Tierney their highest player rating on the day, as he put in a solid display at the back.
Given one of them is the captain of Switzerland and the other is one of the stars of the Scottish team, it’s no real surprise the duo aren’t getting a break. It’s just a bit worrying, given how busy Arsenal will be for as long as they remain in the Europa League.