Arsenal

Arsenal’s four best and worst World Cup scenarios as Jesus breaks drought and Tielemans transfer

Mikel Arteta will be without several key players over the few weeks or so because of the World Cup, but what would be Arsenal's best and worst-case scenario during the tournament?

This year’s November international break is one like nothing before.

Instead of Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta being without a number of first-team players for at least a fortnight due to qualifiers or friendlies, he is losing 10 – for potentially six weeks in some cases – to the World Cup which is taking place in the winter months because of the intense heat in host nation Qatar around summertime.

There is an argument that the pause in the season has come at the worst possible time for the Gunners considering they only opened up a five-point lead at the top of the Premier League table last weekend amid concerns all momentum could be lost when action resumes on Boxing Day.

In a perfect world, Arsenal would carry on, but Arteta accepts the situation his side are in: “When a team is in that moment you want to carry on playing of course, but that’s not possible,” he said after the win at Molineux when asked if it’s a bad thing that the Premier League has paused for the World Cup.

“We have to use that time as best as possible. For those not participating in the World Cup they will have some time off which they fully deserve and the rest can just fulfil a dream that every kid has to have the chance to represent their team in a national cup. It doesn’t get better than that.”

It’s already been announced that the Gunners will be heading abroad next month for some warm-weather training in preparation for the West Ham United fixture as they’ll play friendlies against Lyon and AC Milan in the Dubai Super Cup.

Furthermore, in a massive boost for the Arsenal manager, Emile Smith Rowe is expected to be part of travelling squad as he nears a return to full fitness and if everything goes smoothly he could be available for selection at the start of January.

But can anything happen over the next six weeks or so to worry Arteta ahead of the Dubai training camp next month or the Premier League’s return on Boxing Day? Well, football.london takes you through what would be the best and worst-case scenarios for Arsenal during the World Cup.

Best case

For the club’s representatives at the World Cup, on paper, it’s safe to say that Bukayo Saka, Ben White, Aaron Ramsdale, William Saliba, Gabriel Jesus and Gabriel Martinelli are expected to go deep into the competition which opens the door for a seventh – or eighth – player to lift the trophy whilst contracted to Arsenal.

It would also be a welcome sight if Jesus breaks his goal drought in Qatar. The striker hasn’t scored since netting in the North London Derby win over Tottenham at the beginning of October and despite his all-round game being near perfect in the 10 subsequent fixtures, you get the feeling he needs to start finding the back of the net again.

As for Matt Turner, Granit Xhaka, Thomas Partey and Takehiro Tomiyasu, if their respective nations don’t get past the group stage it would benefit the Gunners as they could all join up with the squad in Dubai for the warm-weather training camp after a well-earned rest.

So the best-case World Cup scenario for Arsenal is Jesus rediscovers his goalscoring form and if one, or two, go all the way to the final, lift the trophy then report back to London Colney in a buoyant mood which in turn inspires them even more for a Premier League title pursuit during the second half of the season.

Worst-case

The obvious one. Injuries. The one fear most – if not all – managers will have for any major tournament is getting their players back in the state they left in. Arteta is no different and his biggest concern is likely to be around the fitness of Tomiyasu whilst also hoping Partey doesn’t suffer a setback.

In addition, with his first-choice front three – Saka, Jesus and Martinelli – all in Qatar and expected to have long tournaments whether they feature much or not, the Spaniard is well aware that his front line isn’t the same proposition when one is unavailable so he’ll be hopeful of avoiding that situation.

Injuries and fitness issues aside, the other worst-case scenario for Arsenal during the World Cup is transfer related. Specifically Youri Tielemans. As previously reported by football.london, the north London outfit are prepared to wait for the Belgium international to run down the final few months of his contract with Leicester City and sign him on a free transfer next summer.

This is approach risky for many reasons. The main one is that a good showing from the midfielder at the World Cup may alert teams across Europe, such as Barcelona, ahead of the winter window. And in this scenario, Arsenal would find themselves potentially regretting a decision to not seal a deal when they had no competition for his signature.

If Tielemans doesn’t sign a new Leicester contract before January he will then be able to speak with teams outside of England with regard to a pre-contract agreement which would then come into effect from July 1, 2023 – unless he is sold for a cut-price fee during the winter.

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