02 December 2022

Those Gunners be nicking a living at this World Cup...

...and that is an unqualified
Good Thing, at least in my book. In any normal, sane World Cup that happens in the summer instead of disrupting everything and that leads to the deaths of more than 6,000 "workers" in the host nation, we'd want the lads to all get their time on the pitch, making meaningful contributions and pushing their respective national teams towards glory. To a degree, I want that this year, but, given the timing of this Cup and our ambitions in the Prem, I don't think I'm wrong when I look at the minutes our boys have played compared to the minutes of our rivals' players. Our squad is still on the thin side. Fewer minutes equals fresher legs.

 After Thursday's matches, then, here's how the minutes add up for outfield players:

  • Man City: 2,562
  • Man U: 1,790
  • Topspur: 1,714
  • Chelsea: 1,699
  • Liverpool: 771
  • AFC: 633

While a very good case should be made for adding in Brighton and Newcastle, I found this on Twitter and am far too, um, busy to look those up. That said, we and Liverpool look likely to emerge from this travesty—um, I mean glorious testament to the spirit of the game—with relatively fresh players. For us, most of these minutes are from Saka (149), Partey (180), and Xhaka (180), who are three of our most-instrumental players. These numbers will change, what with Ghana, Switzerland, South Korea, Brazil, and Portugal all playing today, but the broad trend will remain the same.

Still, there's something to be said about the confidence and inspiration of representing one's national team, and that can carry over to the club. We've seen a vital version of that after Saka was called up on to take a penalty for England at Euro 2020 only to have Donnarumma save. Since then, Saka has been imperious, insisting on taking pens—and doing so with aplomb—ever since.

Along similar lines, then, I see a nice, shiny, silver lining along the edges of our players' exclusion from their respective squads. Not only will they come back to the Arsenal fresh and, for the most part, rested; they'll come back feisty and fighty (okay, so not really a word, but I craved some alliteration and you know what I mean). Jesus, Big Gabi, Saliba, Martinelli, Ramsdale, and Tomiyasu will come back to the club bound and determined to fight and fresh as daisies as well because we all know how, um feisty daisies are? 

What's more, those are some heavy, heavy minutes for Man City, Man U, Tottenham, and Chelsea. Even going into this World Cup, there were concerns around Kane's fitness, de Bruyne's motivation, Ronaldo's presence, and, well, all of Chelsea. Emerging from this not-at-all controversy of a World Cup, it looks like we'll have a leg up on our competitors due to those fresh legs. While I'm sure that I'm not alone in hoping that England, Brazil, Switzerland, France, Japan, and the US all find a way to win the World Cup this year, bringing untold glory to each of our lads from each of those national teams, let's just admit that this is a bit of a pipe-dream. Six teams winning the World Cup in one season? Madness. Four? It's possible. Two? Stranger things have happened.

More realisitc is to think that our lads will come back ready to hit the ground running while most of our opponents's players will come back with rubber legs and weary spirits. I can live with that.

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