Good day lovely Arsenal family. The world cup is almost upon us and participating teams are rounding off with final preparations for the most significant football event in the world.
It’s a unique, one-of-a-kind tournament this year; first, due to the venue and secondly, the timing. I don’t want to talk about the issues surrounding the venue as this is not the reason for this article, I, however, want to talk about the possible effects the timing might have on players and their respective club’s campaigns.
Here is the truth, no one really knows what the outcome would be as far as club football is concerned, all we can do at this moment in time is try to forecast the possible scenarios – ultimately though, time will reveal this to all.
For teams who do not have a lot of their players at the Mundial AND are in good form, (Newcastle says hi) I think this break might be an advantage, they only have to worry about their match fitness and maintaining their good form/focus, while teams in not-so-good forms can use the break to work things out. Teams like Wolves, Forest, Leicester, and United may be happy for different reasons,
In the case of Arsenal though, I think it is a mix, we are in good form, but we also have our most important players at the world cup, now we have to worry about injuries, fatigue, and loss of momentum.
Players like Ramsdale, Saliba, White, Martinelli, Jesus, and Saka play for teams that would likely go far in the competition, and the farther their teams go, the more extended their breaks would be when they get back, meaning they can’t join the rest of the team immediately after their world cup exertions – these are players that are absolutely immense and pivotal to our current form and season goals. The next is Xhaka and Partey of which, to be honest, I personally don’t see their respective teams making it out of their groups so three games max for our midfield duo. Okay, enough of the negatives :).
Looking on the bright side, this break could be an opportunity for players like Nelson and Fabio Vieira to have a mini pre-season and build to build their confidence.
I know we have the likes of Cedric, Elneny, Nketiah, and Holding, but these players have been under Arteta more than the aforementioned, so they understand the system more. I want to focus on Vieira and Nelson for this article, with our first game after the world cup in mind.
For Nelson; Arteta seemed to show some faith in him when he was appointed manager, but for some reason, he was sent out on loan last season. But now he is back and he has shown glimpses of what he can offer against Forest and Brighton. This break gives Arteta time to work on him more and hopefully, he makes it hard for Martinelli to get his place back when he returns.
Fabio on the other hand was injured in pre-season and so could not partake fully. I think he has had mixed performances so far, good in some games but not so good in others. Here is what Arteta said about the Player of the tournament at last year’s U21 Euros.
“Every new player needs time to adapt and to play. Obviously, when he played against Brighton away from home and he was surrounded by players he’s been more familiar with, it was a little bit easier.
“We have asked him to play in different positions as well because of the needs we have in the squad. I’m not worried at all.”
Arteta added: “He’s missed a big part because he came and he was injured for two and a half months. So he’s missed a whole pre-season, and I think that period now in the World Cup [break] is going to make him very good.”
There you have it, this sounds to me like Arteta has a mission to work with him personally, so I think he might be the biggest beneficiary of the break.
This is a massive opportunity for both players to go further in their education of our system because truth be told, the system is a complicated one to learn as we have all seen the number of players we had to get rid of in order to play it. Fortunately, we have games against Milan and Lyon to build their fitness. It is important for Arsenal’s sake that they are both brought up to speed in their development.
With all that said, my bonus will be to forecast our starting line-up against West Ham on Boxing day, based on what has been said above:
Cedric Holding Gabriel. Zinchenko
Odegaard. Partey. Xhaka
Vieira. Nketiah. Nelson
What do you think?