Mertesacker and Podolski join Arsenal's 4-4 kamikaze club
But there is cause for celebration as Olivier Giroud proves he can score with late France goal
THERE was good and bad news for Arsenal's international contingent last night, as Olivier Giroud scored a late equaliser for France against the world champions Spain, but Lukas Podolski and Per Mertesacker became the latest two Gunners to find out what it feels like to throw away a four-goal lead.
In one of the most remarkable comebacks in recent international history Germany lost not only a seemingly insurmountable lead in their World Cup qualifier against Sweden, but also their aura of efficiency and resilience.
Unfortunately for Arsenal, Per Mertesacker was at the heart of the German capitulation. The big centre back was on target in the first half to make it 3-0 to Joachim Low's team after 39 minutes, and when Mesut Ozil added a fourth soon after half-time the game seemed over.
But Sweden pulled one back through Zlatan Ibrahimovic just after the hour mark and the comeback was on. And half-an-hour later, two minutes into injury time, Rasmus Elm scored a barely believable equaliser as Mertesacker and the rest of Germany's kamikaze defence looked on.
Goal.com described the draw as a "nadir" for the German team. "The tone of amazement that characterised the squad's post-match comments told a tale of its own. This was no miracle - it was a lack of mentality, something entirely of their own doing. With the match seemingly wrapped up, they switched off."
At least it means that Mertesacker and Podolski, a late substitute, will be able to empathise when the likes of Wojciech Szczesny, Bacary Sagna and Laurent Koscielny reminisce about the dark day in February 2011 when the Gunners drew 4-4 with Newcastle. In some ways Germany's capitulation was even worse than Arsenal's as it took place at home and with 11 men on the pitch.
There was better news for misfiring striker Giroud, who scored a last-minute equaliser against Spain to earn Les Bleus a crucial point, and which could even end up consigning Spain to the World Cup play-offs if France go on to win the group. Santi Cazorla played almost a full game for Spain after an early injury to David Silva of Manchester City. It leaves Citizens boss Roberto Mancini sweating over Silva's fitness for the game against West Brom on Saturday and the Champions League clash with Ajax next week, according to The Guardian.
There was better news for the City manager as Mario Balotelli scored a decisive third goal for Italy against Denmark. While Robin van Persie of Manchester United was also on target as Netherlands beat Romania 4-1.