The 2018 FIFA World Cup is in full swing, and we’ve already seen plenty of surprising results. Argentina were held to a draw by Iceland, reigning champions Germany were defeated by Mexico, and last night, Switzerland managed to grab a point from their opener against favourites Brazil. Despite that, however, new Arsenal signing Stephan Lichtsteiner’s performance wasn’t received particularly well by pundits and fans alike.
Many thought that he was slow to read the ball, didn’t deal with pressure all that well and looked out of place. Gunners legend Ian Wright has defended the 34-year-old in the wake of the criticism, stating that he was facing an uphill battle when going head to head with Brazil’s fantastic attacking options.
Whichever way you look at this, it’s not exactly going to matter all that much in the grand scheme of Arsenal’s upcoming season and Unai Emery’s mentality in general. The Gunners’ system is going to work entirely differently to how Switzerland set themselves up, and beyond that, you only really need to look at the numbers. Sure, Lichtsteiner didn’t put in the best shift of his international career, but he was still a part of a team that managed to pick up a point against Brazil.
Everything that happens, or at the very least most of what happens in Russia, will have no real impact on the domestic season. You could argue, in fact, that it’ll be a win-win situation either way. If Switzerland exceeds expectations then Lichtsteiner will have a great deal of confidence heading into his Arsenal debut, and if things go wrong over the course of the next two games, then he’ll have a chip on his shoulder and will have something to prove to fans of English football.
The most important thing for Arsenal, and Unai Emery is that everyone comes back fully fit. There are few things worse than losing a player for an extended period of time when they’re on international duty, and while many Arsenal fans would like to see one of their own lift the World Cup trophy next month, they’d probably be equally as satisfied if they were on the next plane home ready to get stuck into training in North London.
So if you’re one of the guys or girls criticising Lichtsteiner, just remember how good this guy is. He’s a veteran, he’s extremely talented, and he’s a great addition to the squad.
What did you think of Lichtsteiner’s performance against Brazil?