On Tuesday afternoon the first round of World Cup matches drew to a close, so let’s take a look at how the Arsenal players are getting on at the tournament so far.
The 2018 edition of the competition has already had its fair share of shocks and upsets, making World Cup predictions almost impossible. Unfortunately, the one aspect of the competition so far that was predictable was that the Arsenal contingent at the tournament would struggle to hit their stride.
After a long and disappointing 2017/18 season, it would’ve been surprising to see them all hit the ground running straight away. Nonetheless, with one round of fixtures down, here’s how each of them are getting on so far:
Mohamed Elneny (Egypt)
Elneny faced up against Uruguay on the second day of the tournament, without Mohamed Salah for company in the starting line up. The Pharaohs didn’t have many chances, but held on at 0-0 until the 89th minute. Then Gimenez finally made the Uruguayan pressure pay with a late winner.
Elneny put in a good performance individually, completing 88% of his passes, creating one chance and taking a couple of shots, as well as contributing a few tackles and interceptions at the other end.
Nacho Monreal (Spain)
Monreal didn’t feature in Spain’s opening game against Portugal, a 3-3 draw where Cristiano Ronaldo stole the headlines.
Alex Iwobi (Nigeria)
Iwobi played 62 minutes of Nigeria’s match against Croatia, but he couldn’t prevent their opponents going 2-0 up, and in all honesty it was a very poor performance all round from the Super Eagles. Hopefully his early withdrawal will leave him fresh for their next match.
Joel Campbell (Costa Rica)
Campbell didn’t start for Costa Rica against Serbia, as he continues to recover from injury. However, after his country went 1-0 down, he came on in the 66th minute to try and save the game. He looked sharp, but couldn’t do anything to change the game, and just like Iwobi and Elneny, he finished on the losing side.
Mesut Özil (Germany)
Unfortunately for Özil, he continued the trend, as Germany fell to a 1-0 defeat against Mexico. The 29-year-old perhaps could’ve done more to prevent the winning goal, as Hirving Lozano turned him a bit too easily. It’s harsh to blame the German though, as he shouldn’t have been the only player back defending in the first place.
Despite defeat, and the usual accusation that Özil was ‘invisible’, he actually spent more time on the ball than any other midfielder or attacker, except Toni Kroos. He created four chances, and certainly wasn’t the main reason for the loss.
Stephan Lichtsteiner and Granit Xhaka (Switzerland)
Finally, a couple of Arsenal players picked up a point, with Switzerland managing a 1-1 draw against Brazil. It certainly wasn’t an easy game, as the Gunners’ new right-back was up against Neymar. He did well enough to keep the Brazilians out for the most part though, before his substitution with three minutes to go.
Xhaka grew into the game the more it went on, after a difficult start. He ended up completing the 90 minutes, and helping his country get a big result.
Danny Welbeck (England)
Like Monreal, Welbeck didn’t feature from the bench in his country’s match against Tunisia. Fortunately for him, they managed to do the job without him, achieving a 2-1 win.
David Ospina (Colombia)
Ospina had a very difficult start to the tournament, as Colombia gave away a penalty and went down to 10 men after just 3 minutes. He couldn’t keep the spot-kick out, and it was an uphill battle for the remainder of the game.
Colombia’s Quintero scored a clever equaliser from a free-kick, before Japan took the lead again, with Osako heading in a corner. Ospina could’ve been more commanding from the set-piece. The match finished 2-1.