Thursday, December 30, 2010

30 December 2009 - Footballers Of The World Unite (Part 2)

On 30 December 2009, Arsenal won at Portsmouth, 1-4, in a match where neither side's starting XI included an Englishman. It was the first time that had happened in the English top flight.

While not necessarily uncommon for Arsenal at the time, it was an unusual development for Pompey, who were forced by injury to start Bosnian keeper Asmir Begović in place of their regular keeper, England's David James. The most-represented nation on the pitch that day was France, with a total of 7 (5 for Arsenal and 2 for Portsmouth). An additional two players--Portsmouth's Hassan Yebda and Nadir Belhadj--were born in France, though both play internationally for Algeria. The remaining players were from Bosnia, Iceland, the Republic of Ireland, Israel, South Africa, Scotland, Ghana, Spain, Belgium, Wales, Cameroon, Russia, and Croatia.

The Gunners went up 3-0 with goals from Eduardo (28'), Samir Nasri (42'), Aaron Ramsey (69'), before Belhadj puled one back for Portsmouth in the 74th minute. After Alex Song restored the visitors' margin in the 81st minute, an Englishman finally stepped onto the pitch, with midfielder Craig Eastmond (pictured) replacing Nasri in the 85th minute. Not to be outdone, Pompey added an Englishman of their own, with midfielder Michael Brown replacing Scotsman Richard Hughes.

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