The international break isn’t the best thing in the world, and we promise that we’re going to stop going on about it sooner rather than later. A lot of fans just aren’t that interested in what their nation is going to do unless it’s at a major international tournament, and even then they can be pretty fickle after one or two bad results. Nonetheless, despite being quite negative about the whole process ourselves, we’re choosing to look on the positive side of things – especially in the wake of a few really important performances from Arsenal stars.
When veteran Switzerland international Stephan Lichtsteiner joined Arsenal from Juventus as a free agent in the summer, most Gunners fans assumed that he would be back-up for first-choice right-back Hector Bellerin.
True to form, that is what has happened, as the new arrival has played just 55 minutes as a substitute in the Gunners season opener against Manchester City. The 34-year-old was expecting to compete with Bellerin for the right-back spot.
He told the Standard: “I could have changed to five other clubs in the summer, knowing that I would certainly play 47 out of 50 serious matches,”
According to Spanish sports publication Marca, Arsenal are in advanced talks to sign Switzerland international goalkeeper Yann Sommer from Borussia Monchengladbach this summer.
Too many goalkeepers
The Swiss star’s arrival would make the goalkeeping situation in north London very interesting. The Gunners already had two international goalkeepers at the club in Petr Cech and David Ospina before the summer arrival of Bernd Leno from Bayer Leverkusen.
If the Gunners did manage to sign Sommer, Ospina and Cech would both leave the club in the summer. One of the pair is already set to leave the club, with the other staying and likely being number two to new arrival Leno.
Prediction: Sweden win
Best Odds: 21/10
There are few things that satisfy 90% of football fans but seeing big teams fall in international tournaments in favour of unfancied nations certainly falls into that category. As we continue on through the Round of 16, which has already given us a phenomenal selection of games, it’ll be interesting to see how some of these countries navigate their way through the knockouts. One game, in particular, that intrigues us is the upcoming showdown between Sweden and Switzerland.
Prediction: Total goals over 2.5
Best odds: 8/5
On Monday evening, Serbia and Switzerland will confront each other in the second round of group E of the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Both teams achieved satisfactory results in the opening round as Serbia beat Costa Rica by 1-0, courtesy of a superb free-kick by Aleksandar Kolarov, and the Swiss held off Brazil to a 1-1 draw with Steven Zuber’s header cancelling out Philippe Coutinho’s long-range stunner.
Verdict: Brazil win
Best Odds: 2/9
On Friday afternoon, one of the World Cup favourites Brazil faces Costa Rica in their second Group E game, as the Selecao look to get back to winning ways in Russia. Their opponents cannot afford defeat or could face an exit from the competition.
Brazil dazzled in the early stages of their opener against Switzerland. However, the Selecao dropped the pace and the game ended 1-1 after a highly disciplined performance from the European side.
Granit Xhaka has signed a new long-term contract with Arsenal, the club have confirmed on their official website.
The future of the midfielder was somewhat uncertain after the departure of Arsene Wenger, but the man who has replaced the Frenchman has assured the Swiss international that he will remain an important player for the team.
Xhaka joined Arsenal from Borussia Monchengladbach in 2016, and so far he has made 94 appearances and scored seven goals for the Gunners from his role in central midfield. A relentless player, packing a powerful shot and boasting great passing range and vision, and his new deal is nothing but excellent news for Arsenal as they strive to overcome the difficulties that come with being in transition.
Prediction: Brazil win
Best Odds: 2/5
The 2018 FIFA World Cup has already thrown up a series of shocking moments and great goals, and we’re only just getting started. Over the next few days or so every single team in the tournament will play their first game in Russia, with one of the more notable encounters being Brazil vs Switzerland. The five-time world champions are expected to ease their way through this group and into the knockout stages, whereas the Swiss are being tipped to follow the South Americans through to the Round of 16.
On Sunday evening, Spain welcomed Switzerland for a friendly game as the 32 national teams prepare to embark upon the World Cup in Russia that starts next week.
With Arsenal set to finalize the deal to sign Stephan Lichsteiner, there is very little doubt that the likes of Unai Emery, Ivan Gazidis, Sven Mislintat and Raul Sanllehi will already know everything there is to know about the player. However, this particular game offered some useful insight into what the fans can expect from the 34-year-old fullback. It would certainly have been better if we had the chance to see Granit Xhaka alongside him, but the Arsenal midfielder is still battling against time to be fit for the upcoming tournament.
Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere was full of praise for Granit Xhaka, describing the summer signing as a ‘leader’ and the man capable of kick-starting attacks for the Gunners, while providing the defensive protection. Xhaka was brought in from Borussia Monchengladbach for around £30M, and Wilshere believes the money was well spent from how difficult he found playing against him in the past.
“I’ve played against him a few times at youth level for England and also for the first team with England so I know him quite well. I’ve always thought he was a good player, he’s very strong and has got a good left foot. He’s a leader, he can hold the midfield together and can get things going from back to front. He’s a good signing,” said Wilshere.