What a World Cup it’s been so far; and we’re only halfway through! With the group stage drawing to a close on Thursday, we can now take a step back and survey the wreckage, with a number of Gunners now out of the competition, and flying home for a summer of reflection/relaxation.
England’s tumultuous two weeks in South America was, statistically speaking, the worst in the history of the Three Lions participation in the competition, crashing out after two losses to Italy and Uruguay. Jack Wilshere managed a decent runout against Costa Rica in the dead-rubber third outing for Roy Hodgson’s boys, while poor Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was a bitter spectator throughout due to his ongoing knee troubles (still, he should be fine to join up for Arsenal pre-season).
Santi Cazorla is also heading home with Spain, but the vast majority of Gunners are still battling for glory in Brazil, with the second round just around the corner.
Check out the Round of 16 ties involving Arsenal players below:
Costa Rica v Greece – Joel Campbell
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The 22-year-old has been one of the stars of the tournament so far; and he’s never played a minute for the Gunners! Campbell will arrive at the Emirates next season in a blaze of glory, with his stunning strike against Italy and bullish performances against both Italy and England surely giving Arsene Wenger food for thought.
He could well guide Costa Rica through to the quarter finals for the first time in their history, with the brave Greeks looking wholly unconvincing in the group stage.
France v Nigeria – Laurent Koscielny, Olivier Giroud
The French have been excellent so far in South America, excluding the dour 0-0 draw with Ecuador in the dead-rubber last game, with both Koscielny and Giroud involved throughout.
Scoring a cracking header against Switzerland, Giroud is a very useful weapon for manager Didier Deschamps, and Koscienly has gradually worked his way into the plans of the French boss, playing the last 114 minutes of the group stage.
Nigeria will be a tough side physically to break down, but given the strength of Les Bleus (with the added sprinkling of world class Gunners), France should edge through to the quarters.
Germany v Algeria – Per Mertesacker, Mesut Ozil, Lucas Podolski
Boasting the biggest contingent of Arsenal superstars, Germany made short work of Group H, finishing top, and setting up a relatively straightforward-looking fixture against North African minnows Algeria.
While they have yet to score for Joachim Löw’s side, Ozil, Mertesacker and Podolski have all appeared in the first XI in the last few weeks, and will be hoping to start in the Estádio Beira-Rio on Monday.
Belgium v USA – Thomas Vermaelen
Captain Vermaelen has endured a mixed group stage campaign, with the defender suffering from injury, yet with Belgium winning Group H and setting up a mouthwatering clash with the USA in the last 16.
Whether he will be fit in time for the match on Tuesday remains to be seen, but we wish him the very best of luck!
World Cup predictions with JUST EAT – Win £500 in free takeaway
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The Forecaster is a fun way to predict football results – go with your gut, and predict games based on each team’s national dish. Make the right predictions, and you could win £500 in free takeaway.
Joel Campbell will be attempting to see Costa Rican ‘Gallo Pinto’ through to the next round against Greek Moussaka; while the French Crepe looks to have the advantage over the Nigerian stew, purely because of its ability to be either sweet or savoury.
Three German Gunners will head up the German Currywurst against Algerian Cous Cous, while Belgian Mussels and Fries vs the USA Hamburger is surely the tie of the round!
Signing in is a breeze – you can use Twitter or Facebook, and you don’t have to annoy your mates by spamming their wall when you want to play. Then you can predict today’s results and the knockout stages. JUST EAT vouchers are up for grabs every day, not forgetting the grand prize of a year’s supply of takeaway – perfect for enjoying the footy on a full stomach!