The Arsenal Eight at World Cup 2018
Arsenal have eight players at World Cup 2018. While there are those who stand a genuine chance of being there at the very end, for others, the chances of progressing beyond the group stages are already looking doubtful. Here, we take a look at who is representing the Gunners and how their fortunes have fared at this early stage.
Mesut Özil – Germany
Özil played a more peripheral role than many would have expected back in 2014, but all that will change this year. There will be no time for sitting in the dressing room playing baccarat with the rest of the also-rans, Özil will be central to Germany’s hopes and plans for becoming only the third team ever to successfully defend a World Cup victory and the first in well over 50 years. Germany are narrowly the second favourites behind Brazil at present, but all that could change rapidly. The team gets its campaign underway on Sunday against Mexico.
Stephan Lichtsteiner and Grant Xhaka – Switzerland
Never underestimate the Swiss team. They have a tough opening match against Brazil on Sunday, but from thereon in, it should be plain sailing through the rest of the group stage, with Costa Rica and Serbia to get past. The team are a tantalising 7/1 shot to make the quarter finals – to do so they would have to beat the winners from Group F in the round of 16 – that will most likely be Germany, and could be a match in which Arsenal loyalties are tested!
Nacho Monreal – Spain
Monreal had nothing to do in Spain’s dramatic 3-3 draw with Portugal on Friday. The danger is that there will be no room to take the pedal from the metal in the remaining group matches, after it was widely assumed he might get an opportunity for some time in the middle in the final group match with Morocco. Most bookies still see Spain as the best shout after Germany and Brazil, though, so there could be opportunities for Monreal to show his worth.
Danny Welbeck – England
Welbeck might have to wait for his chance to shine, but the rumours are that he will be the striker of choice when Kane is rested. As for England’s hopes, Group G is one of the last to get underway, and England have been 16/1 outsiders to win the event for weeks on end now. While World Cup glory might be a step too far, the team have done will in the draw, and should be all but guaranteed a relatively smooth run as far as the quarter final stages.
David Ospina – Colombia
The fact that Ospina is not a first choice at Arsenal and has not covered himself in glory when playing for Colombia makes it surprising news that he is almost certainly the first choice goalkeeper for his nation’s World Cup campaign. The other two keepers have only six international caps between them. Colombia are also at the friendly end of the draw, and they and Poland should be able to brush Senegal and Japan aside. What happens next is where it gets interesting, as there is every likelihood that Colombia will meet England in the round of 16.
Alex Iwobi – Nigeria
Iwobi will have it all to do to get Nigeria out of the group stages, but he demonstrated his value to the team in his performance to score Nigeria’s only goal in the recent friendly against England. His nation have had no luck at all, and Group D is one of the toughest there is.
Mohammad Elneny – Egypt
With Saleh on the bench, Egypt were always going to struggle. A 0-0 draw against Uruguay would have been a good result, but that late Giminez goal meant Egypt are now unlikely to qualify for the knockout stages.
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