Arsenal’s World Cup ‘22 Stars

Place ball

No-one can say that the World Cup in Qatar has been a low-profile event so far. From the many controversies surrounding it to some very surprising results indeed it has certainly managed to get the world to sit up and take notice.

The fact that it’s also the very first one of the tournaments that has been held in the run-up to Christmas has made it a seasonal bonanza for many, especially in the UK.

After all, having a whole month being able to watch world-class football in the warmth and comfort of your home or a local bar is surely preferable to sitting in a chilly stadium. Plus, for the lucky ones who have ventured out to Qatar, they can also be enjoying all the action in 30o heat.

And, with so many stars from around the world being called up for international duty, it really is a chance to see the best of the best pitted in fierce competition with each other.

Especially exciting is the chance that it’s giving fans to see the young stars of the future. For managers of domestic teams, it’s also providing the perfect showcase to help them spot who they might want to snap up in the January transfer window.

For Spain we have the young Gavi, a player who is helping to rebuild Barcelona from the ground up. And France’s midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni is certainly another to watch.

At the other end of the age range there are stars who must surely be making their final World Cup appearances including Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale.

Gunning for success

Star players come from star teams, so it’s little surprise that a full ten members of the Arsenal squad have been picked to represent their respective countries in Qatar.

A lot of this has to do with the incredible season that the team have had so far. With 12 wins from 14 matches and only one loss as they went into the winter break, it’s been a start almost unlike any other in the team’s history. Even more amazing is the five-point advantage they have over the high-spending Manchester City.

All player positions are well-represented by Arsenal players turning out for their respective countries.

Goalkeepers. Both Aaron Ramsdale for England and Matt Turner for the USA have made it over to Qatar. While Ramsdale inevitably plays second fiddle to Jordan Pickford, Turner has impressed for the US, only conceding a single goal – and a penalty at that – in the group stage.
Defenders. A trio of defenders are in their countries’ squads consisting of Takehiro Tomiyasu for Japan, William Saliba for France and Ben White for England. With all three countries at the top of their respective groups, this has had as much to do with their defensive abilities as their attacking style.
Forwards. Tasked with the vital job of scoring are Brazil’s two Gabriels, Martinelli and Jesus and England’s Bukayo Saka. Although none of these seem destined to pick up the treasured Golden Boot at the moment, they may well come into their own in the knock-out phase of the competition.

Corner kick

So who’s going to win?

Many observers have noted through the group stage of the competition that no single team seems to be outstanding. There have been great performances like England’s 6-2 thrashing of Iran and Spain’s even more impressive 7-0 score line against Costa Rica. But these have to be balanced out against England’s and Spain’s lacklustre draws against the USA and Germany respectively.

However, anyone wanting to try to predict the eventual winners could be guided by the odds on offer at one of the online bookies offering World Cup bets. Favourites by quite a margin are Brazil, followed by Argentina. Next up are France and Spain so it very much looks like the World Cup could be heading to either South America or continental Europe.

 Brazil flag

Fans’ fears

Obviously, it would be great if the England men’s team could follow the example of the Lionesses in this summer’s Euros and bring football home. But it does seem like a bit of a slim possibility as the bookies have them at around a 10/1 to win outright

There are also concerns, particularly among English fans, that it could all be a vain attempt to achieve the impossible as well as one that ends in disaster.

For example, every time a player turns out for a team, there’s always going to be the risk of injury. In the hyper-competitive world of international football when so much is at stake, this risk may also increase.

So, there’s a very real fear that critical team members could be coming back from Qatar on crutches, or worse.

Then there’s the question of player burnout. The footballing calendar is always a busy one, especially for teams also involved in domestic cup competitions and the European football as well as the Premier League. Having to play extra matches in Qatar’s searing heat is bound to leave players even more depleted.

Hopefully, these are both issues that Mikel Arteta won’t have to face as he resumes the race for the Premiership title after Christmas, but there’s always the possibility that he might.

So, Gunners fans everywhere will be keeping their fingers crossed that this isn’t the case. And England fans will be keeping everything crossed that we also come back with the trophy with the team’s luggage.

After all, in football, anything is possible.

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