Arsenal will have eight players competing in the group stage of the 2018 FIFA World Cup. For the first time since 1994, no Arsenal player will be playing for France, as Alexandre Lacazette was left on the standby list. Here are the players that will be playing, in order of groups.
Mohamed Elneny, Egypt
Mohamed Elneny will be fit for the World Cup, after missing the end of Arsenal’s season with an ankle injury. Egypt will be sweating out the availability of Mohamed Salah, but all information points to him being fit. In a weak group, Egypt could qualify for the knockout stage: Saudi Arabia are only in their second World Cup, and Russia have been inconsistent. Uruguay, with Arsenal target Lucas Torreira, are group favourites. Elneny will start in midfield alongside Tarek Hamed, with Abdallah El-Said given a creative role.
Egypt v Uruguay, Friday June 15 1 PM BST/8 AM EDT/5 AM PDT
Russia v Egypt, Tuesday June 19 7 PM BST/2 PM EDT/11 AM PDT
Saudi Arabia v Egypt, Monday June 25 3 PM BST/10 AM EDT/7 AM PDT
Nacho Monreal, Spain
Nacho Monreal will back up Jordi Alba for Julen Loptegui’s side, who are one of the tournament’s favourites after crashing out in the group stage in 2014. If Spain qualify for the knockout round, Monreal could start the last game against Morroco.
Portugal v Spain, Friday June 15 7 PM BST/2 PM EDT/11 AM PDT
Iran v Spain, Wednesday June 20 7 PM BST/2PM EDT/11 AM PDT
Spain v Morocco, Monday June 25 7 PM BST/2 PM EDT/11 AM PDT
Olivier Giroud , France
Alex Iwobi, Nigeria
Nigeria have the best shirts in the competition, hands down. Now that’s out of the way, they have a tough group but one they could qualify from: games against Croatia and Iceland will be key ahead of a final group game against Leo Messi and Argentina (who Nigeria beat 4-2 in a friendly last year). Alex Iwobi will either play in a wide playmaking position, but his best form has come in the middle for Nigeria, as he showed in the recent friendly against England where he set up, and then scored, Nigeria’s only goal.
Croatia v Nigeria, Saturday June 16 8 PM BST/3 PM EDT/12 PM PDT
Nigeria v Iceland, Friday June 22 4 PM BST/11 AM EDT/8 AM PDT
Nigeria v Argentina, Tuesday June 26 7 PM BST/2 PM EDT/11 AM PDT
Joel Campbell, Costa Rica
Your annual reminder that this dude is still inexplicably an Arsenal player. One day, the story of how Dick Law spent two weeks in Costa Rica trying to sign him will make a great book. It’ll be more interesting than anything Campbell does here.
Granit Xhaka and Stephan Lichtsteiner, Switzerland
Xhaka will, as always, anchor Switzerland’s midfield. He has a more creative brief when playing for Switzerland, as evidenced by wearing the #10 shirt, and orchestrates the Swiss midfield from a deep position.
Lichtsteiner is Switzerland’s captain, and the first match against Brazil will be his 100th cap. At 35, Lichsteiner still has the legs to be an attacking full back, with he and Ricardo Rodriguez providing width as Switzerland’s wide players, including Xherdan Shaqiri, come inside from their nominal wide positions. Switzerland, who only lost once during qualifying and won all 9 other games, should finish second in Group E, behind Brazil.
Costa Rica v Serbia, Sunday June 17 1 PM BST/8 AM EDT/5 AM PDT
Brazil v Switzerland, Sunday June 17 7 PM BST/2 PM EDT/11 AM PDT
Brazil v Costa Rica, Friday June 22 1 PM BST/8 AM EDT/5 AM PDT
Serbia v Switzerland, Friday June 22 7 PM BST/2 PM EDT/11 AM PDT
Switzerland v Costa Rica, Wednesday June 27 7 PM BST/2 PM EDT/11 AM PDT
Mesut Özil was perhaps more peripheral in 2014 than he would’ve liked, playing on the left of Jogi Löw’s 433 system. He’s likely to play his preferred number 10 role this time around, with Toni Kroos and Sami Khedira behind him in central midfield. With a central role and players like Thomas Müller and Marco Reus playing wide, look for Özil to flourish for one of the tournament’s strong favourites.
Germany v Mexico, Sunday June 17 7 PM BST/2 PM EDT/11 AM PDT
Germany v Sweden, Saturday June 23 7 PM BST/2 PM EDT/11 AM PDT
South Korea v Germany, Wednesday June 27 3 PM BST/10 AM EDT/7 AM PDT
Danny Welbeck will be off the bench, but there’s evidence to suggest he’s Gareth Southgate’s preferred striker to supplement or rest Harry Kane. Marcus Rashford has played off the striker and Jamie Vardy hasn’t been as effective as Welbeck, who scores a goal every other game at international level.
Tunisia v England, Monday June 18 7 PM BST/2 PM EDT/11 AM PDT
England v Panama, Sunday June 24 1 PM BST/8 AM EDT/5 AM PDT
England v Belgium, Thursday June 28 7 PM BST/2 PM EDT/11 AM PDT
David Ospina will be Colombia’s number one, despite the fact that he’s a) not very good b) not a regular starter for The Arsenal c) has made a litany of mistakes for Colombia in recent call-ups. The two other goalkeepers have a combined 6 caps. His sister, incidentally, is now James Rodriguez’s ex-wife. Still, despite Ospina, Colombia should qualify from the group, but likely behind Wojciech Szczesny’s Poland.
Colombia v Japan, Tuesday June 19 1 PM BST/8 AM EDT/5 AM PDT
Poland v Colombia, Sunday June 24 7 PM BST/2 PM EDT/11 AM PDT
Senegal v Colombia, Thursday June 28 3 PM BST/10 AM EDT/7 AM PDT