Ranking the Arsenal Players by Their Likely World Cup Impact
Although the domestic season is over, many Arsenal players still have a lot of work ahead. Twelve current Gunners will fly to Brazil to compete in this summer's World Cup.
In this piece, we rank them by their likely impact on the tournament. Some players are key figures in smaller teams, whereas others are bit-part players in nations with the potential to go all the way. Arsenal even have one man who could prove to be one of the World Cup's bona fide stars.
12. Johan Djourou
Although he has spent the 2013/14 season out on loan at Hamburg, Johan Djourou is still technically an Arsenal player. He has been named in Switzerland's World Cup squad, but he is not expected to be a starter for them during the tournament. In the queue for a spot at centre-half, Djourou finds himself behind the likes of Fabian Schaer of Basel.
That said, Djourou's versatility means that an injury or two could see him granted a chance to shine.
11. Bacary Sagna
Although Bacary Sagna is widely recognised as one of the best right-backs in the Premier League, he struggles to command a regular place in France's international side. Instead, coach Didier Deschamps tends to prefer Newcastle's marauding full-back Mathieu Debuchy.
Unless Debuchy suffers an unexpected injury, Sagna is unlikely to be granted many opportunities to impress.
10. Thomas Vermaelen
Thomas Vermaelen has not just lost his place in the Arsenal XI—he's also lost his spot with Belgium. In recent matches, Vincent Kompany and Daniel van Buyten have edged ahead in the race to start at centre-back. With Jan Vertonghen well-established at left-back, Vermaelen could find himself playing a minimal role during Brazil 2014.
9. Santi Cazorla
Spain's wealth of talent tends to ensure they make a significant impact at any international tournament. However, that same wealth of talent means wondrously-gifted players such as Santi Cazorla are restricted to a matter of minutes on the field.
If Cazorla makes Spain's final selection, the best he can hope for is the occasional cameo from the substitutes bench.
8. Joel Campbell
Arsenal's young loan star is a regular starter for his country. A goal against England in the group stages could see his rising star explode.
7. Olivier Giroud
Olivier Giroud plays second-fiddle to Karim Benzema for France. However, Benzema's international form is famously erratic. If the Real Madrid man fails to perform, Didier Deschamps won't hesitate to introduce Arsenal's powerful forward as an alternative.
6. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has already made a significant impact in Brazil: his goal in the Maracana helped England to a 1-1 draw against the tournament hosts in the summer of 2013.
How he'd love to replicate that sort of feat in the World Cup. After a season interrupted by injuries, he ought to be fresh enough to wreak havoc on opposition defences.
The big question is whether or not he'll do so as a starter or from the bench. If he is to begin games with England, he will have to see off competition from the likes of Adam Lallana. It's more likely he'll be used as an impact substitute in the latter stages of matches.
5. Lukas Podolski
Lukas Podolski is a key member of the German squad, even if he isn't a regular starter.
His effervescent personality makes him a vital part of Jogi Low's setup. He's handy on the pitch, too. Speaking to Kicker (h/t Sports Mole) during last season, Low confirmed:
Podolski is still a very important player, because he strengthens the team with his abilities.
With his dynamic style and his important goals, he has repeatedly showed his unpredictability can be a decisive factor in matches.
Therefore, despite the competition from other players, Lukas is indispensable in his position at the moment.
Podolski will not play in every game, but he could make some vital contributions from the bench.
4. Laurent Koscielny
Laurent Koscielny is France's No. 1 centre-back. During the World Cup, he is likely to be partnered by one of Mamadou Sakho or Raphael Varane.
With France in a relatively easy group along with Switzerland, Honduras and Ecuador, Koscielny could have quite a prolonged World Cup experience.
3. Jack Wilshere
Jack Wilshere is the great young hope of the England midfield.
Having missed the European Championships in 2012 with injury, Wilshere will be delighted to be on the plane to Brazil. For several years now, it has been speculated that the England team will be constructed around his talents. Now we'll discover if Wilshere is as integral to Roy Hodgson's plans as we've been told.
England always make headlines at the World Cup. Jack Wilshere's profile and prominence in the team mean he is liable to make more than most.
2. Per Mertesacker
It's remarkable that, despite his pedigree, Per Mertesacker is not an automatic first-choice for Germany. Jogi Low is able to call on three excellent centre-backs in Mertesacker, Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng. Unfortunately, three in to two doesn't go. One man will be forced to miss out.
Current indications are that Mertesacker will edge out Boateng to win a starting place. If he does so, he will become part of a Germany team who are one of the rightful favourites for the tournament.
1. Mesut Ozil
Germany's team is built around the extraordinary gifts of Mesut Ozil.
The Arsenal playmaker is expected to be one of the major stars of the tournament, and he will see the World Cup as a chance to re-establish a reputation that has taken something of a buffeting during the Premier League season.
Surrounded by familiar faces, Ozil ought to flourish.