The international break usually means a dearth of club news, so we’re left with fantastic stories like Vito Mannone considers himself a “better keep in every way,” following his loan spell at Hull in the Championship last year.  Mannone certainly has acquitted himself in the last two matches following Wojciech Szczesny’s absence through injury but let’s slow down a bit, Vito, eh?

“I think I have improved in every part of the goalkeeper position,” Mannone told Arsenal Player.

“In my mind as well, I came back stronger and stronger [from my loan spell]. Especially after the mistake at Olympiacos – it’s never easy to come back, but when I’ve got my back against the wall, I don’t mind. I just roll up my sleeves and try to work because I know I can do well.

I’m not dismissing the Italian’s new-found confidence or belief but despite two good displays, he still is a clear  backup to Szczesny for me.  Mannone still looked a bit bothered on high balls in the box at times against Liverpool but his shot-stopping has been good.  Either way, here’s to hoping Mannone’s improvement continues & he plays well until Szczesny’s return.

Arsenal released their full playing squad lists for the UEFA Champions’ League & Premier League yesterday as well.  There’s 54 names on the full list, which for the Champions’ League includes a 25-man ‘A’ squad where interestingly, 17-year old Serge Gnabry has made the cut.  The youngster did well in pre-season & has done well also in the reserves early on, but likely will make his first team bow in the Carling Cup.  However, if Arsenal do well enough in their CL group perhaps Arsène Wenger will give the young German a run out in the final group match if we’ve qualified for the knockout stages by then already.

Andrei Arshavin made the list despite rumors of the mercurial Russian leaving the club before the Russian transfer deadline on Thursday.  I don’t have the CL roster rules in front of me but if Arshavin were to leave the club, I believe the club would be able to fill that roster spot with someone else without having to wait until the spring registration window (provided we make it through the competition that far, of course.)

And for the last bit of Arsenal news, let’s all take another gander at Abou Diaby’s Man of the Match performance against Liverpool over the weekend:

Not Patrick Vieira, but Diaby was Vieira-esque on Sunday

Moving on to some national news & it’s for the US.  USA!  USA!  USA!  Right.  US Soccer released the USMNT’s 24-man roster for their upcoming qualifiers against the Reggae Boyz of Jamaica on Friday & next Tuesday evenings:

U.S. ROSTER BY POSITION
GOALKEEPERS (4): Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Everton), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
DEFENDERS (9): Carlos Bocanegra (Racing Santander), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover), Maurice Edu (Stoke City), Clarence Goodson (Brondby), Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim), Michael Orozco Fiscal (San Luis), Michael Parkhurst (Nordsjaelland), Jonathan Spector (Birmingham City)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Joe Corona (Club Tijuana), Jermaine Jones (Schalke 04), Brek Shea (FC Dallas), Jose Torres (Pachuca), Danny Williams (Hoffenheim), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
FORWARDS (4): Jozy Altidore (AZ Alkmaar), Terrence Boyd (Rapid Vienna), Clint Dempsey (Tottenham Hotspur), Herculez Gomez (Santos)

No real surprises in that group really given the injuries to Michael Bradley & Landon Donovan, & it looks like Jürgen Klinsmann is definitely set on moving Maurice Edu to the center of defense.  Klinsmann must no doubt want a defender who has a bit of ball-playing ability at the back as he looks to implement a more possession-based system than American teams are generally used to.  We’ve definitely never really had central defenders that were that good on the ball except maybe Marcelo Balboa & even ‘Celo was never going to be mistaken for Franz Beckenbauer or anything.

Molde FK winger, Joshua Gatt had been originally named in the roster & would’ve possibly made his USMNT debut, but he was withdrawn due to an injury in his last match with his Norwegian side.

I would also guess that captain Carlos Bocanegra moves out to left back & Klinsmann would go with a central defense pairing of Geoff Cameron & Maurice Edu.  Or maybe he pushes Edu up into midfield & starts Goodson next to Cameron?  From the players named & being a bit short in the midfield with Bradley & Donovan’s absences, I would imagine Klinsmann would go with a lineup of:

Howard

Cherundolo — Edu — Cameron — Bocanegra

– Jones — Beckerman

Williams —- Dempsey ——- Shea

Altidore

Friday’s match in Kingston, Jamaica will be televised on beIN Sport, which apparently is some new exclusive soccer network that I bet I don’t get.  Yep.  I don’t get it.  Sounds like I’m finding a feed on Friday.  Tuesday’s “return” match in Columbus will be broadcast on ESPN2 at 8 PM ET/4 PM AT.

Oh, by the way, I would be remiss if didn’t mention the USA’s recent win over Mexico IN Azteca last month.  It was the first time in history the US defeated Mexico in the seething cauldron that is Azteca.  The Mexicans can cry all they want about the match only being a friendly, but they know damn right having the kind of record where they had never lost against us, ‘The Gringos’, in their home stadium, drives them up a freaking wall.  Uno a cero, bitches.  Add that one to the historical wins list with “Dos a cero,” when a match DID matter the most.  You mad, Mexico?  Boo-hoo!

Uno a cero, perdadores!

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