Wild American Gooner

When Sports Are More Than Just Sports

Why Are So Few Arsenal Stars Shining in Brazil?

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Well I was very wrong about that game. I knew France was the better side, but I didn’t expect them to be quite that clinical. I think it might have been closer had veteran Swiss defender Steve von Bergen not left with an injury in the opening minutes, but that isn’t excuse enough for the Switzerland’s atrocious defensive display. France has now put themselves in an excellent position and has to be tipped to make a trip to the quarterfinals, where they would likely run into Germany. If both France and Germany continue their impressive goalscoring form, that might be the game of the tournament.

It was good to see Olivier Giroud produce a great display in his slightly unexpected start. With him atop the field, and Benzema on the left, France looked dangerous every time they had the ball in Switzerland’s half. This might be a useful lineup going forward too, as I felt they looked more dynamic today than when Antoine Griezmann was on Benzema’s left. Paul Pogba will likely come back in for Moussa Sissoko, but this particular side obviously was quite impressive. Don’t sleep on the French as a potential title threat.

Giroud will be pleased that he contributed in more ways than one in his hour on the pitch. In addition to heading in a corner, he was effective receiving the ball deep and he even showed off his pace on the counter, putting Mathieu Valbuena in on goal for France’s third. I think whoever arrives this summer at striker for Arsenal will have a tough job holding off Giroud for the starting spot. He gets a lot of undeserved flak for all he adds to a side. And while Arsenal certainly needs another star frontman to compete for more silverware, Giroud will be a valuable contributor going forward as well. I’m not totally opposed to pairing Giroud with the new signing, whoever that might be.

On the Swiss side, seeing Johan Djourou cheaply give away a penalty brought back memories of his rapid demise at Arsenal. It would be easy to forget that for a long period in 2011, Djourou was first choice for Arsene Wenger in the back. He was useful at times too, helping Wojciech Sczcesny keep some clean sheets in some of the young keeper’s earlier starts with the first-team. But somewhere, it all went wrong. And now, he is an afterthought for most Gooners, sent away to Germany to keep him away from the squad. It was interesting that Arsenal has been tweeting good luck messages to Djourou all World Cup, even though he no longer plays for the club. Maybe they are reminding us that it could be a lot worse.

One thing that has been worrying me is that it feels like there have been a lot more former Arsenal players on the field in Brazil than current ones. It’s been nice seeing some of our old favorites, but isn’t it slightly concerning that so few Arsenal players are first choice for their countries? Wouldn’t we all like to think Laurent Koscielny is a better defender than Mamadou Sakho for example? It’s odd that the player representing the club the best so far is Joel Campbell, someone who’s never played a minute for the club, even in pre-season. Maybe not having players on display will help the fitness-levels for the season, but Arsenal have remarkably few stars in Brazil right now. Really only Per Mertesacker is an automatic starter for his country, with Mesut Özil not even guaranteed a place. I hope that’s not cause for concern.

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