In the blink of an eye, the third international break of the season and the final of 2018 has been and gone and as players return to their domestic clubs, the focus is beginning to switch back to league football and in West Ham’s case, the Premier League.
But before we switch our attention back to domestic football and to a busy run of fixtures around the festive period for the Hammers, we are going to be analysing how the Hammers’ internationals got on with their respective nations over the course of the November international break. Join us.
To remind you and in case you missed our West Ham November international break preview seven days ago, just six international Hammers, youth and senior, currently at the club, were called up to represent their countries this time around.
They were Austria and Irons talisman Marko Arnautovic, Poland goalkeeper and Manuel’s Pellegrini’s star summer signing Lukasz Fabianski, his fellow summer arrival Fabian Balbuena of Paraguay, France U21 centre-back Issa Diop and the England U20 duo of Nathan Trott and Grady Diangana, the latter of whom had been called up for any kind of international duty for the first time.
Marko Arnautovic (Austria)
We start with the striker who sits on six goals for club and country in 2018/2019 so far, Arnautovic, one of the first names on the roster when Austria manager Franco Foda picked his squad for UEFA Nations League, League B Group 3, clashes with Bosnia & Herzegovina and Northern Ireland.
Battling through the pain barrier of an ongoing knee problem, the No7 started when the Bosnians visited Vienna but was left frustrated by a goalless draw, which saw the away side crowned group champions and prompted to League A, relegating the Irish and securing second place for them. Four days later, the Austrians closed with a second Nations League win, defeating Northern 1-2 late on at Windsor Park, the Hammer grabbing his first international assist of the term as a second-half substitute.
Lukasz Fabianski (Poland)
While it was an action-packed break for his teammate Arnautovic, it would be a rather quiet ten or so days for the Polish shot-stopper Fabianski, acting as an understudy for his former Arsenal comrade Wojciech Szczesny.
He was an unused sub as Jerzy Brzeczek’s men were edged out by the Czech Republic in a friendly last Thursday, before fulfilling the same role yesterday evening with the nation ending a miserable maiden Nations League campaign by collecting their second point with a 1-1 draw at group winners Portugal. Poland finished bottom of League A Group 3 with two points, suffering relegation to League B for the next Nations League.
Fabian Balbuena (Paraguay)
As we move away from the international Hammers featuring in the final group matchday in the Nations League, we find defender Balbuena, who was to make his first international appearance since swapping the Brazilian Top-Flight for the Premier league in June.
In doing so, he became the 49th different West Ham star to feature for their country in Paraguay’s only match of the international break, Tuesday’s friendly draw away to South Africa. ‘The General’ started in the 1-1 draw and played for the entirety, with the hosts stealing a stoppage-time equaliser for a sour end to Juan Carlos Osorio’s first outing in charge.
Issa Diop (France U21)
It would be a proud international break for another player currently in East London recently returning to the fold of their national team, Balbuena’s centre-back partner Diop, receiving his first France U21 call-up since March, his first as a Hammer.
This was for a double-header of friendlies in his home nation, the visits of Croatia U21s to Beauvais last Thursday and Spain U21s to Caen on Monday evening. Whilst he was an unused substitute in the second clash, Diop started and impressed in the first, with the French matching their opponents on two occasions in respective 2-2 and 1-1 stalemates.
Nathan Trott And Grady Diangana (England U20)
Last but not least are the England U20s pair of Trott and Diangana, the former a regular in Keith Downing’s side and the latter, also eligible to represent the Democratic Republic of Congo, receiving his first call-up of any kind, let alone England.
Like many other international Hammers, they had just friendly matters to attend to and only a single encounter, Monday’s home matchup with Germany U21s at the JobServe Community Stadium, the home of Colchester United. With Trott sitting on the bench as unused sub, Diangana started and played over 70 minutes for his debut, shining in a 2-0 victory for the Young Lions.
So, now that you’ve been given the full statistical lowdown on how West Ham’s internationals got on in the November international break, today will be the last day of stars returning to Rush Green to begin preparations for a return to Premier League action. And Pellegrini will be desperately hoping the players that went away will come back with great confidence, having to host the reigning champions Manchester City on Saturday afternoon.
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