With the World Cup now done and dusted, most Arsenal fans are definitely pleased by the outcome of some of our players; especially with our Germans, Mesut Özil, Per Mertesacker and Lukas Podolski finishing up as world champions.
Costa Rican Joel Campbell surprised many with his ability in such a huge competition, while Laurent Koscielny was, surprisingly, not even a regular starter for France, but did well when called upon. His compatriot, Olivier Giroud, had a decent campaign as well, considering his hectic 2013-2014 season with Arsenal.
Santi Cazorla had a small part to play in his Spain’s miserable campaign, while Jack Wilshere still hasn’t shown his full potential with England. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was unlucky with injuries and failed to start a game, despite being with the Three Lions camp for the duration in Brazil. Thomas Vermaelen was used in the left back position for a Belgium team that reached the quarter-finals, and did well in that role.
The Arsenal players who shone brightest at the World Cup were the new signing, Chile’s Alexis Sanchez, and Joel Campbell of Costa Rica.
Alexis roamed around causing all sorts of problems against every team Chile faced, playing attractive football with players like Mauricio Isla, Arturo Vidal and Eduardo Vargas. The Chilean coach Jorge Sampaoli used Alexis wisely, thus allowing him to drift in front of the defence of the opposition, looking for space to score or create goals.
Alexis wasn’t just used on the right wing, but also in the “free role”, most notably against Brazil. I think it’s clear that we’re all massively excited to see how Arsene Wenger will use Alexis Sanchez, because he is a player who can play anywhere in attack.
Joel Campbell, though, is a player who surprised the globe with his courage and determination. After being loaned to FC Lorient, Real Betis and Olympiakos, Campbell has shown a lot of improvement in his decision making, strength and finishing. At the World Cup, Campbell was a dangerous centre forward for Costa Rica and, much to the shock of other nations, his team did not lose a game. They were eventually dumped out of the competition by the Netherlands on penalties.
The Germans really deserved to win it all in the end, having proved the most consistent and best team in the competition.
Özil started every match and did well, especially in the final. His touch is just first class and makes any team look better going forward. The way people slaughter him is ridiculous, as he picks pockets of space to create chances for his team, depending on runners coming from behind to support him. Özil is not a player who regularly sprints up and down the field, but uses his trickery and fantastic vision to quietly build opportunities and emerge as the unsung hero.
Overall the World Cup was a successful one for all Arsenal players in one way or another, including both Wilshere and Oxlade-Chamberlain. Our English stars had a memorable experience nonetheless, and will hopefully showcase their potential in time to be regular starters for England in Euro 2016.