Sunday, 1 July 2018

Arsenal Update As The World Cup Gets Real

When the World Cup started Arsenal were represented by nine of their players at the tournament and now with half of the 32 teams on their way home that figure has been cut to five players. The four players on their way home all managed to see some action with varying degrees of success, but at least they will be available to play for Arsenal sooner than the players still caught up in the tournament.

The big surprise among the players on their way home is Mesut Ozil as the reigning champions exited at the group stages for the third World Cup in a row. Germany picked Ozil from the start against South Korea and he created enough chances to win the game for them, but their 2-0 defeat saw them finish last in their group. As usual the Ozil haters were out in force blaming him for the failure of his country and just about anything else you care to think of. For me I think their demise was probably down to a little bit of over confidence and the lack of a striker to put away all the chances they (and Ozil in particular) made.

Joel Campbell will join Ozil on a beach somewhere no doubt and he managed to get his first start of the World Cup as Costa Rica managed their first point in a 2-2 draw with Switzerland. He actually had a very good game from what I saw and he had s huge part to play in both of their goals. He probably won’t be an Arsenal player next season, but his performance against Switzerland should at least mean sone interest is shown in him by other clubs.

Both Mohamed Elneny and Alex Iwobi are on their respective ways home too as their countries bowed out at the group stages. Egypt lost all three of their games with Elneny playing all of those games, but it’s probably a tournament they would prefer to forget. Nigeria lost two of their three games, but it took a very late winner from Argentina to see them off on their merry way. Iwobi didn’t see an awful lot of game time after starting their first game and failing to impress.

We still have the Swiss pair of Granit Xhaka and Stephan Lichsteiner involved as their country face Sweden in the last 16 on Tuesday, but they will have to do so without Lichsteiner as he got his second yellow in that game against Costa Rica and has to serve a one game suspension. He set up their first goal in that game and Xhaka played quite well too. Lichsteiner will be hoping the team can progress to the quarter finals so he can come in again and share in some of the glory.

David Ospina gets the thrill of playing against an England team which will see Danny Welbeck on the bench once more although he did manage a few minutes off the bench in their last group game. The defeat against Belgium sees England in the supposed easier half of the draw, but they will have to get past a Colombian team who have won their last two games without conceding a goal and only lost their opening game because they had to play for 87 minutes with 10 men. I’m not saying Colombia are favourites, but England could underestimate them at their peril.

As Arsenal fans we all know Ospina’s weaknesses and England would do well to try to exploit them. They have been very good at set pieces so far and I expect the ball to be put right in on top of Ospina at every chance. I also expect to see him go down injured on at least three occasions and who knows he might actually be injured on one of those occasions.

The final Arsenal player is Nacho Monreal who looks highly unlikely to get a game at all unless someone else is injured or suspended. As I write this Spain have just gone out on penalties in their round of 16 game with Russia and yet again Nacho is on the bench watching.

It does look like we will have a few players in  the quarter finals, but maybe only because England are playing  Colombia and we are guaranteed at least one player in the last eight.

That’s it for today.

See you tomorrow.

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