Thoughts on the Gunners Performing at the World Cup
As the clock slowly ticks, the biggest sporting event in the world is about to take center stage and Arsenal, like many other teams have its own contingent waving the club’s banner in the soccer fiesta. Some Gunners have been on show in the recent friendly encounters and there are bound to be more friendlies between now and the opening fixture of the World Cup.
France has been fortunate enough to get a relatively easy group with the European nation paired against Switzerland, Honduras and Ecuador. From an Arsenal perspective, Olivier Giroud, Laurent Koscielny and Bacary Sagna are the players that have been selected and I’m tipping the French to go all the way to the semis.
In Koscielny and Sagna, Deschamps has a dependable half of his four man defense and with Patrice Evra on the left flank as well as Mamadou Sakho pairing up with the Kos, it’s going to be an interesting affair to see how the fare with the pace of Manchester United’s Antonio Valencia. In attack, it would be an intense battle between Olivier Giroud and Karim Benzema, as both players are vying for the center forward slot, even though Giroud has performed admirably in the friendly fixtures, one may wonder if he’s just getting some game time before warming the bench in the tournament for Karim.
To England, Jack Wilshere and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain represent the home-grown talent that would fly the Gunners flag but I don’t see the Ox starting games for his nation. Wilshere on the other hand would carry some burden of expectation and I’d like to see how he handles the expectancy.
England are in a tough group against 2006 World Cup winners, Italy, Confed Cup and 2010 World Cup semifinalists, Uruguay, and Costa Rica with a certain Joel Campbell in their ranks. Many Gooners haven’t gotten to watch Campbell play consistently but his goal against Manchester United in last season’s Knockout Phase certainly brought some smiles to Gooner faces.
Arsenal’s German Machine trio of Mesut Ozil, Per Mertesacker and Lukas Podolski were recently held to a 2-2 draw against Cameroon but the European outfit will face off against Ghana, a Cristiano Ronaldo inspired Portugal and U.S.A without the iconic Landon Donovan. Ozil is a sure fire favorite to start in every game but Mertesacker might be concerned that the ghosts of Euro 2012 (that didn’t allow him to play any game) could come back to haunt him. With Marco Reus and Julian Draxler in good form, I expect Podolski to watch from the dugout out.
This might be a campaign Thomas Vermaelen may not remember fondly, but he was still called up by Marc Wilmots and he played 90 minutes in recent friendly against Sweden, even though he started as a left back. Belgium takes on Algeria, Russia and Korea Republic and I’m expecting them to get all three points.
Finally, Santi Cazorla made it to the Spain squad but on national level, he’s a bit player for Vicente del Bosque. I see don’t see Cazorla starting against Chile and Holland but he might get a shot against Australia.
I’ll keep a keen eye on the Gooners on international and I hope they play regularly on the world stage, because it doesn’t better than the World Cup.
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