From a clubs point of view, a World Cup year usually plays havoc with the pre-season.
Adding an extra 10 weeks to the calendar after the Premier League season has finished, it means players selected for their country are nowhere to be seen for the majority of pre-season.
To put it into perspective, last season Arsenal began pre-season training in the 4th of July. If the club keep to the same schedule (ie first weekend of July), players will start to return on the 3rd of July. The World Cup is not until the 15th July.
The break between the end of the Premier League season and pre-season starting is 6 weeks. The clubs fitness staff (regardless of who the manager is) usually recommend this as the minimum break before players return.
The group stages finish on the 28th June. That means for a 6 week break, we will not see any player return until around August 14th. That is 3 days after the first game of the season. If any player makes the final, you are probably looking at September before they return.
Under usual circumstances, this would frustrate an Arsenal fan. With Champions League qualifiers and having to play the first couple of games using those players who did not go to the World Cup. Next season, however, Arsenal have no excuses.
To start with, we are now in the Europa League. It does not start until the 20th September. And we will probably play a reserve XI in the group stages once more regardless.
But what will swing things into Arsenal’s favour even more is the simple lack of Arsenal players going to Russia.
At the 2014 World Cup, Arsenal had 10 players out in Brazil. This year that number could be as low as 6.
We have all seen the news about Jack Wilshere and Shkodran Mustafi. Neither have made their sides squad.
A mixture of injuries, countries failing to qualify and unselection could result in the majority of Arsenal players being at London Colney on the first day back at training:
Failed to qualify:
Retired / Injured:
Unlikely to go:
Assured of selection:
The bad news for the players unselected or who failed to qualify is good news for Arsenal.
Of those assured of selection, only Granit Xhaka and Mesut Ozil are first team regulars. The only position we are exposed is the middle of the park with both Elneny and Xhaka going to Russia.
Without any new signings (or outgoings) our first game of the season could see us line up:
Bellerin Mustafi Chambers Monreal
Wilshere Maitland-Niles Ramsey
No excuses to not have a fast start.