Arsenal and the Confederations Cup: A Guide to a Useless Tournament

I have nothing to add. - Robert Cianflone

Want to pay attention to Arsenal players, but don't feel like expending any energy whatsoever to do so? You're in luck!

Unlike most of my compatriots here at The Short Fuse, I actually like watching international soccer. I'm not a huge fan of Theo Walcott playing against San Marino, but in general I enjoy the World Cup and stuff like that. While the Confederations Cup is of dubious importance, I do like the fact that probably the second-biggest win (in terms of opponent quality) in American history came at the last one. So it's got a place in my heart. And it begins today.

I don't know how many of you care in the abstract. But there are Arsenal connections, with multiple current players and rumored transfer targets involved. So for those of you who want to keep an eye on players you don't want injured, or those who would like to do a bit of scouting, here are the relevant teams to check out.

Spain

Well, obviously. They're still probably the best team in the world, and there are Arsenal bits galore. Two current players in Santi Cazorla and Nacho Monreal have been named to the squad for the tournament, though it's unclear how much playing time either one will get. Jordi Alba is likely ahead of Nacho in the depth chart, and depending on whether Sergio Ramos is used more on the left or in the middle, he may be as well. But Monreal is likely to get at least some minutes. The same could be said for Cazorla, only with different names. We all know the quality that Spain have in midfield, and with the forwards that Spain have in squad the left wing might not be a possibility either. But Santi is better at what he does than Nacho, so I'd say Vicente del Bosque will do what he can to get Cazorla in some games.

Transfer targets? Well, it's like half of the team. Pepe Reina has been rumored for ages, and while I'm not sold that he's a real target (ever), he's the third-string 'keeper on this team, so...maybe he'll play? In midfield we have the possibly-unrealistic Cesc Fabregas, but honestly most of us are going to want to watch him either way, because CESC WE LOVE YOU. The most solid target in Spain's squad is David Villa, though there hasn't been a lot of noise around him lately so that probably means we've already signed him.

Brazil

From here, we get a little more tenuous. Since Andre Santos isn't in the Brazil squad (lol), the only connection here is rumored transfer target Julio Cesar. I'm pretty sure we haven't talked about this possible deal here before, because I'm unconvinced that it's real. I could be wrong there, though - we do need a backup! - so check out Brazil anyway, and if he plays you can tell yourself you aren't wasting time watching a competition where most of the good players aren't actually trying that hard. Half of Chelsea's team is also in the Brazil squad, so get your voodoo dolls ready.

Italy

Nobody who is actually connected to Arsenal plays for Italy. But if you really want to stretch, Stephan El Shaarawy is in the team, and there have been rumblings of Arsenal interest in him. Surely there's a lot of interest in him, but I'm not sure that anyone - particularly us - will pay enough to get him. But if you want to see what all of the fuss is about, here you are. Also, I'm going to start a rumor here that we're in for Andrea Pirlo, because he is magic and I would love it. It's not real, but I don't care.

The rest

If you've been huffing paint, you can watch Uruguay and pretend like there's a chance in hell we can sign Edinson Cavani. Japan's Keisuke Honda has, in the past, also been touted as a target, but there hasn't been a lot there recently.

The first game starts at 3:00 pm ET on Saturday, with the final to be played in about two week's time. We'll keep an eye on players' performances along the way. A full calendar of matches is available here, so if you actually want to watch some of this, you can see who's playing whom when.

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