Mixed Gunners Luck in Russia, but a Future Arsenal Captain is Stealing the Show

43 days till PL kick off for Arsenal, that is if the Arsenal v Man City date will not be moved. So just over six weeks and we are back in business. It feels like a small eternity but luckily we have been able to see some of our best Gunners in action in Russia over the last two weeks.

In general it is not a pretty story so far for our World Cup boys. Elneny played well but in a limited-ability team. Iwobi was left out in the second and third game, which I  thought was a tactical mistake, especially in the final game in which the Super Eagles sat back too much and missed a quality creator in the final  third. Perhaps the  biggest disappointment was Joel Campbell who was poor in Costa Rica’s final game; he looked nothing like the raw talent we saw in Brazil four years ago.

Mesut Ozil was left out for Germany’s all important second game but he was reinstated for the even more important final group game. He made himself available and looked to create chances for the Germans but the movement in front of him was limited and the World Cup holders looked dazed and confused when receiving the ball and passing it round. Low tempo, low inspiration, limited movement and technical limitations when presented with a chance, meant that the Germans had to say Auf Wiedersehn to Russia and fly home with their tails between their legs. Mesut looked knackered and sad at the end and it will take a while before he will be over this.

Ospina is through after looking a safe pair of hands in Colombia’s goal. He will have a chance to steel the show this weekend when the ‘lucky-losers’ Three Lions will be Colombia’s next opponent. Monreal, our Nacho, is also through to the next round but I have yet to see him in action. Welbeck? Through to the next round but very little involvement – a man on the periphery.

The real positives come from the Swiss camp. Lichtsteiner has looked fresh and solid in defence and was strong in supporting the attack too, with some very fine balls into the box for example. Looking fwd to seeing him in the mighty red and white of Arsenal.

Granit Xhaka

Xhaka has looked solid and central to all the Swiss team is about. An almost perfect balance between supporting the attack, controlling the midfield and feeding the attacking players constantly with simple and more tricky balls, Granit was the beating heart of the Swiss. His demeanour, positioning on the pitch and communication skills are those of a captain; and I predict it will not be long before he is made ours.

Granit Xhaka

This Swiss team has resilience, steel and creativity and power up-front. I don’t think they will have a chance to win it but it would not be a surprise to me if they reach the last four. Injuries and suspensions will be an issue for the Swiss of course, but I fancy them against the Swedes and the English/Columbians in the quarter finals, if indeed they go through. If it does come to a Switzerland v England confrontation you will have to ask yourself, if you are English that is, who you will support: Granit’s Switzerland or the Spuds-infested Ingurland??! 😀

The good news is that a lot of our Gunners are now finished at the WC and have 43 days left to get ready for the new season. With so many of our stars not at the WC at all, there is a good chance we will have a competitive and fit team ready when the Northern Oilers visit us on 11 August. In the meantime, let’s keep supporting our few remaining Gunners in this just about watchable World Cup 2018.

By TotalArsenal.

37 thoughts on “Mixed Gunners Luck in Russia, but a Future Arsenal Captain is Stealing the Show

  • What the lot of us have assumed by Stephan Lichtsteiner’s signing– is that he’ll provide veteran cover for Hector at RB. What the lot of us may have overlooked is he is the one member of our club who has served as a team captain for more than just an interim basis (Kos excluded, circumstantially).

    Thought it interesting.


  • Interesting post T A

    I quite like Lichsteiner, except every time he gets tackled he whines. A bit like Ospina who is injured every time he is touched. Hope he doesn’t bring that to the Emirates.
    T A I know you are a big fan of Xhaka, but I think Admir made a very good point the other day. When he is pressed he is a liability. I read somewhere today that he made something like 97 out of 105 passes and some of them were beautiful to watch. But if you can, take a look at the Swiss match the other night against Costa Rica. After around about 4 or 5 minutes, Zhaka got the ball in Midfield and turned very.slowly and lost the ball. Costa Rica very nearly scored as a result of it. I have seen him do similar for Arsenal at least half a dozen times and we have been punished on a number of occasions because of it. Unless he can do something about this, I think he will be a liability to the team.

  • A considered assessment of the state of things for Arsenal in Russia, TA.

    I agree with you, re: Iwobi for Nigeria. It would seem he was a victim of a change in the known formation of the Super Eagles; plus, a bit of pressure to play the only player of Northern descent in the team (most on here may not understand that one, but yeah, I said it!). Ahmed Musa did start the 2nd game and proved himself worthy by scoring both goals for Nigeria vs Iceland, but there is just a creative awareness Iwobi provides when allowed to go as far forward as Musa was in a 3-5-2 that was missing in our play vs Argentina. Anyway, like I stated at the start of the WC, only the sense of patriotism we all have made me predict….mostly only in hope, rather than a conviction that we were good enough.

    Lichsteiner and Xhaka are linchpins for the Swiss and you just sense that they will grow into the tournament. Retsub1 referred to his poor attitude when he is tackled and I recall an article about a Ref who labelled him the worst player he’s had to Ref against, for his non stop whining. Well, I have always said we needed a couple of players with a nasty streak in them. Whining may not always mean nasty, but it will do, for a start. Our players don’t get into the faces of the refs enough; but trust the English Refs to “teach” him a lesson with some early showers, just to let him know who’s boss. 😀🤨

    I have. Feeling Ospina is going to lead the Colombians to victory against England (much as I am rooting for the latter to go as far as possible). They do look capable and have a style that is the antithesis of what England like to play against and can cope with. But, who knows?

    Felt sorry for Ozil. He did everything he could to put others in position but you could see the Germans were uncharacteristically anxious in front of goal and blew chance after chance, before the Koreans scored 2goals in stoppage time. The stats say he created 7 key chances, (a tournament record for one game). That’s massive, even for a German side. Looking forward to the next round of games.

  • “Looking forward to the next round of games.”
    You and me both brother. 😉

    “…and you just sense that they will grow into the tournament.”
    Have to hope that Switzerland get past Sweden– or Lichtsteiner won’t have that chance Eris.
    He and CB Fabian Schar are both out for the Sweden match. Serving 1-match suspensions being carded a second time versus Costa Rica.


  • Retsub, you think ‘he can be a liability to the team’. Do you think you suffer a bit from confirmation bias at times? He completed about 95% of his passes successfully, which is truly phenomenal. You mentioned this too so why focus on a little mistake that happened at the start of the game when the WHOLE team was still cold? The big picture elephant is right in the corner of your living room! 🙂

    Xhaka was pressed a lot in the Brazil game and he dealt with it just fine. He is second to none in the Arsenal team in finding a fellow player when put under pressure.

  • Eris, yes it was a sorry sight the way Ozil was so dejected at the end of the game. All of a sudden it looks like the Germans have only mediocre players up-front and Hummels will not be sleeping well for a while after missing a few very good chances. I reckon Emery will put his arm around Ozil’s shoulder and tell him how important he is to our team, and then he can focus on a new chapter at the home of football.

  • T A I don’t want to argue, I am happy to agree to disagree I just don’t see it the same way. As you do I think he does it to often

  • My excitment is that our game against City couldn’t have come at a better time for us. Of our 1st eleven of last season only Nacho, Ozil and Xhaka wouldn’t have had a full pre-season. On the City side Sane would be the only regular (any other?) with a full pre-season. Pep would field a near 2nd string or unfit 1st teamers.

    If am in Emery’s shoes my pre-season would have that 3pts so much in mind. Well begun they say is half won.

  • T A
    Might have to stay in the Uk this year. (Health reasons) Would love to go to the Highlands again though. No disrespect to Arsene Wenger, but I am really looking forward to this year. I really like the way Emery presents himself and is saying all the right things in my opinion though.

    How about you?

  • The Highlands are very accessible, Retsub, as long as you can drive.

    We are going for a week to Ardnamurchan which is about 3 hours drive from Edinburgh or Glasgow. And in October we are going to Andalucía for a week (Granada, Cordoba etc).

    Looking fwd to the season too, but expectations will not be too high as I want to give Unai some time to settle in with the team. Just the change alone will be good for us. 🙂

  • Sure. Why not?
    Find it as amusing musing the flip-side– of a first-time captain– captaining– his captain.


  • Ah, jw1, I didn’t reckon with those suspensions, you know. Thanks for bringing it up. Still, it will be a good match for the Swiss vs Sweden. It may end a draw in regulation time, though.

  • On the pitch– wearing an armband– or not?
    How players (teammates and opponents) view Lichtsteiner– is important.
    Part of why he’s being brought into the club:

    (A Juve writer:)
    “There’s playing with intensity, and then there’s what Lichtsteiner does. He disagrees with refs — sometimes getting so close to their face he can see if they shaved that morning while also letting them know in a variety of languages how he feels about the call they just made.

    And thus, that is the beauty of our Lichtsteiner — even if some of it is just brute strength with a side of being a pain in the ass and nothing more than that. He’s the kind of guy you love to have on your team, but that you absolutely despise if he’s lining up across from you. He’s not a pest. He surpassed that years ago. He’s just a total pain in the ass to play against.”

    If there were one quality that I’d like to see infused into Hector Bellerin’s game demeanor?
    This is it.


    As a sidebar– I’ve also noted in the past that Unai Emery has almost exclusively selected captains that speak Spanish.


  • Look at that Mbappe go! Can’t but think about what could have been, had Wenger just paid the fee when he was offered to him, as a 17 year old. He’s giving the Argies’ defenders a nightmare.

  • Hahahaha! Retsub1. He got you right back, there. But, what a screamer, that was. No chance, Lloris.

  • Will try again see if I can do the opposite effect. Seriously I have always thought Pogba was overrated, but today dare I say Vieiraesque? He looks very good.

  • We are in for a treat today, it would seem. Impressive goal, Pavard.

  • Ends Uruguay 2-1 Portugal. Two goals from Cavani and one from Pepe. So, both Messi and CR7 go home same day. Torreira was influential and seemed to cut out danger easily; he has a nose for it too and advances like a mini steam train. At one point, he chased CR7 all across from the left wing to the other edge of the box, as he sought space to cock his foot for the big shot on goal. Torreira foiled him a number of times… If his transfer gets done, he will be good for us, methinks.

  • Be hard-pressed for a better pair of games today.
    Thanks to an overly-long dental appt– only caught the opening quarter of the first– last quarter of the second. Only now DVR and cold-beer time!

    What impressed me– as it seemed to with both Eris and yourself TA?
    Torriera looks expert at cutting off passing lanes.
    In front of a level-headed back-4 — he becomes like mortar to their brick.

    Anxious, anxious. Hoping for several signatures on Sunday.


  • I really like Torreira, my type of player. Surely he can’t perform like that every week though? He’s like Action Man on steroids.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s