Yesterday I penned some thoughts about who could most benefit from the second pre season we’re about to get. You can have a read of that here if you like. Then, as I was out on my run this morning, I was listening to one of the many Arsenal podcasts I tune in to when out running, and a thought popped in to my head:
“Who’s going to have the best World Cup?”
I’m a World Cup follower, rather than a specific fan, as you may know if you regularly read the nonsense that I spill on to this blog. I’m English, I inevitably want to see England do well, whilst also having some German heritage, so I have a pseudo back up team to get behind when the inevitable happens. But I’m more of a ‘follower’ for my national team, rather than a fan, and I can safely say that if there was a clash between Arsenal’s Dubai Super Cup friendly with AC Milan and the Semi Final of the World Cup, I’d be tuning in to The Arsenal ahead of anything else.
That being said, we have Arsenal players at the World Cup and so there will be reason to tune in. So, anyway, my morning run…
yeah, I was out there in the pouring rain and listening to a podcast and they mentioned a few players at the World Cup and it got me to wondering which of the players out there do I think would have the biggest impact. Then, which player(s) will go the furthest (because that will also impact us in terms of their return time to the club), then which players will be a surprise package from The Arsenal. So that’s what I thought i’d pick out today. Be keen to get your thoughts.
Who is having the biggest impact?
This is a subjective question based on how you interpret it, because you could say “on the whole competition?” or you could say “for their country?” and for my interpretation I’m saying the one player that the world will look at and say “he’s a great player for Arsenal, who maybe haven’t watched us much before. In that regard, I think it will be William Saliba. Now, I know that there is a caveat in there based on whether he plays, but if he doesn’t play then Deschamps is a nutter, in my opinion. Saliba has made so much look so easy in an Arsenal shirt this season, playing in easily the toughest and most competitive league in the World. I’m biased I know, but to me Saliba is better than Upamencano and with Varane and Kimpembe out injured, surely Saliba should be getting the chance? If he is, I think this will be the player that will make the biggest impact and surprise the most people.
I could have gone with Saka, Martinelli or Jesus, but I think the world knows about Saka now after the Euros, plus I’m not sure – bizarrely – whether Southgate will be starting him. I think the same can be said for Martinelli and Jesus and that’s why I think Saliba has the biggest chance of surprising the most people.
Of course it could be Xhaka, but he’s been an established international for so long and the world should already know about his quality having seen it in World Cup’s before. Hence, I’m sticking with Big Bill.
Who is going to go the furthest?
For Thomas Partey and Takehiro Tomiyasu, my gut tells me they probably come home quickest. I just have a feeling that Ghana don’t make it out of the group stages and that means his last game could be 2nd December. If that is the case, Arteta will probably want him to swing by Dubai, get a week off in the sun, before returning to training after a week and maybe being part of the squad for that second Dubai Cup game. Given Partey’s injury record, if he comes back in one piece and then gets that rest time, maybe he gets a little more time off to recharge, but if we can have him ready for that West Ham game – given we have no real replacement for him, that might be one of the best outcomes from an Arsenal perspective. You could probably say the same about Tomi and his injury record and with Japan in a group with Spain and Germany, that may well come to pass, so for me if we get those two players back sooner rather than later, the better.
I think for England it’ll be quarter finals at best. Looking at the draw I think they’ll get as far as France and then naturally go out, which would mean Saka returning to us after 10th December. I suspect Arteta will want him to take some time off if he’s played, maybe a week, so he can come back and have a week in training before being ready for West Ham. I doubt Ben White or Ramsdale will get hardly any game time so I think they’ll be back then too, but I doubt they’ll have been given many minutes (again, bizarrely). I think Xhaka and Switzerland could also get themselves to the quarter final too, but that’s probably all they’ll have in the tank, so the timings there will probably be the same.
If William Saliba does make the French first team, then I think France are probably – like Brazil – going to be expecting at least a semi final place in the competition. That means the three players we need to think about from a fitness perspective are Saliba, Martinelli and Jesus. The good news could be that Martinelli and Jesus don’t actually play that much and with Saliba it still isn’t clear whether Deschamps will give him any minutes, so we could end up with a situation where players come back having gone deep in the competition, but haven’t been run in to the ground. So they’ll have been training, keeping their fitness up, be match-ready, but will probably just have to deal with the potential pain of losing / come-down having won the World Cup.
So all in all I don’t actually think it could be that bad for us in terms of player fatigue **touches something wooden as he types**. There will need to be some rest time for those players at the competition as soon as their tournament is over, but that’s only going to be the same amount of rest time as the current set of players not going to the World Cup are getting right now.
But what do you think? Who’s having the best impact and who is going to go the furthest and therefore cause us the biggest potential worry?