Tag Archives: world cup 2018

World Cup of the Underdogs

This World Cup has been brilliant so far.

The “traditional” top sides are not actually that good, whilst those the level below are a lot better.

It is probably actually misleading to call the likes of Uruguay, Switzerland, Belgium and Croatia “underdogs”.

With the globalisation of football, the majority of their players play for some of the best teams across Europe.

Regulars who perform week in week out for Arsenal, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atlético Madrid, Manchester United, Manchester City, Juventus, Inter Milan, AC Milan, PSG, Liverpool, Monaco, Chelsea and Napoli are amongst the players in the squads of those 3 countries.

They have La Liga winners, Premier League winners, Ligue 1 winners, Serie A winners, Champions League and Europa League winners in their line ups.

Both domestic and European club football has become predictable and ruined due to money.

The same teams dominating and running away with domestic leagues: the same teams always in the later stages of the Champions League.

You will never get a club side from Croatia or Belgium competing in Europe. The best players from those nations just get bought by the same rich sides dominating domestic foot all. The World Cup is refreshing. It is about talent and tactics rather than money.

It is just a pity that FIFA are trying to ruin the international game with Qatar 2022.

With how domestic football is deteriorating, international football could have become king again. It could have built on this exciting tournament.

Instead we will have a World Cup in a sandpit soulless nation with horrendous human rights record. A winter World Cup just because the Sheikhs of Qatar were able to offer the biggest bribes.

Enjoy this World Cup, as like domestic football, the future is all about money.


Arsenal fans not much cheer at the World Cup

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:

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Henrikh Mkhitaryan
Aaron Ramsey
Sead Kolašinac
Konstantinos Mavropanos
Joel Campbell


Jack Wilshere
Alexandre Lacazette
Shkodran Mustafi
Calum Chambers
Rob Holding
Ainsley Maitland-Niles
Carl Jenkinson
Emiliano Martínez
Lucas Pérez

Retired / Injured:

Petr Cech
Laurent Koscielny
Santi Cazorla

Unlikely to go:

Hector Bellerin
Nacho Monreal

Assured of selection:

Granit Xhaka
Mesut Özil
David Ospina
Mohamed Elneny
Alex Iwobi
Danny Welbeck

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


Aubameyang Lacazette

No excuses to not have a fast start.


Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez, Jack Wilshere, Arsenal’s Defensive Crisis & More

So a week or so without blogging has done me well. I feel refreshed, I have learnt some new words, and I have actually got some proper work done. But I am back, and I thought a good way to start off would be a recap of stuff that I would have blogged on in the last few weeks…

Mesut Ozil & Alexis Sanchez

Speculation is increasing that both will leave on a free in the summer. I would have dumped them both last summer and got in some replacements. My opinion is the same for January. Take what we can, and get in some replacements (Thomas Lemar and Julian Draxler still getting talked about).

Harry Winks

Who? Was what I asked when he got called up for England.

It turns out he plays for Spurs, and has started 4 Premier League games in his career. Good job devaluing the shirt Gareth. Still baffles me as to how Theo Walcott fails to make the England squad whilst the links of Jesse Lingard and this Winks fella get in.

THAT Spurs Book

White Hart Lane: The Spurs Glory Years 1899-2017

  • 2 League titles
  • 8 FA Cups

Arsene Wenger: We Want You to Stay 1996-2017

  • 3 League titles
  • 7 FA Cups

Spurs really are a deluded bunch.

“Super Clubs”

A lot has been written in recent years about Super Clubs. The likes of Manchester United, Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich. A lot of what has been written is positive, blue prints on how they got to where they are, and how others should attain to get there.

Whilst the likes of the 4 previously mentioned sides, alongside the likes of Juventus. Inter and AC Milan are at the top of the footballing hierarchy, the life of a football club is cyclical, and just because you eat from the top table, does not mean you will not have your struggles.

Man U, for example, have not been the same since Sir Alex Ferguson left. The other British Super Club, Liverpool, are 26 years without a title.

Bayern Munich, after years of everyone saying this is how you run a club seem to be intent in ripping themselves apart through internal politics. Whilst the famed Barcelona La Masia academy seems to be no longer producing world superstars.

Real Madrid sit 7 points off top and have won just 2 league titles in 10 years.

The two Milan clubs have also struggled since Juventus returned from the match fixing scandal.

These are all great clubs. They have the history, the success, the European trophies. Yet they are like every other club, they have good periods and bad periods.

Arsenal are not at that top table. We have never been, and whilst we wish we were at the top, the fact is we are the level below.

Every clubs have their troubles, no matter if they are a super club, the one we should all dream to become, the one which we all try and copy. No one is immune from a poor period, a period of turmoil.

Sean Dyche for Arsenal

So Ian Wright said Sean Dyche could be the next Arsenal manager. Whilst I agree that Arsenal legends should not be abused for their view, they are not free from criticism. And this view point is just a little bit silly from Ian Wright.

I have seen some fans backing him. “Anyone but that c**T Wenger” I saw one Facebook post from an admin of a page with 25,000 people. This is just stupidity.

The majority of us believe that Arsene Wenger’s time is over, but it should not be anyone but Wenger. This is just stupid.

When Wenger does go, we need to get an elite manager. A proven winner. Do not let your agenda lead you down a path of anyone but Wenger.

Jack Wilshere

After two poor England performances, where the side lacked creativity, plenty are calling for Jack Wilshere to be rushed back into the first team.

We all know that Wilshere is England’s best central midfielder, and if fit, starts. But let’s not rush him.

I would not play him in any international friendly until the World Cup preparation starts at the end of the season. Concentrate on letting him get fit, and stay fit. The 2 weeks off every few weeks will do him the world of good. Then at the World Cup, he will (hopefully) be fit and ready to go.

What is the point in playing him in meaningless friendlies?

Defensive Crisis

So Shkodran Mustafi pulled up with what looked like a hamstring problem for Germany against Azerbaijan. It has also been reported as a thigh strain.

With Laurent Koscielny plagued once more by his troublesome achilles, it is being reported that Arsenal face a defensive crisis ahead of the game against Watford.

The usual moaners are complaining that we did not buy a centre back in the summer.

If the above two are out, it still leaves us with Rob Holding, Per Mertesacker and Nacho Monreal as the back 3. That is the same back 3 that won us the FA Cup Final. And we still have Calum Chambers in reserve.

I would not be surprised if Koscielny is fit to start on Saturday. His withdrawal from the French squad is more of a precaution.

But if he is out, we are certainly not in a defensive crisis.

The International Break

Mixed results for Arsenal players, as Mohamed Elneny, Alex Iwobi, Olivier Giroud, Nacho Monreal and Alexandre Lacazette helped their countries qualify.

Meanwhile Aaron Ramsey Wales and Sead Kolasinac’s Serbia just missed out on a play off.

I did smile when I read the moody dog shagger Alexis Sanchez will not be at the World Cup. Call me petty, but whilst he (and Mesut Ozil) want out of Arsenal, I want as little success for the pair as possible – unless it is in an Arsenal shirt.