The World Cup in Russia is right around the corner and, like many fans in world football, Arsenal will be keeping a close eye on proceedings ahead of the new Premier League season.
The Gunners will use the opportunity to keep tabs on potential new signings for Unai Emery, who succeeded Arsene Wenger as boss at the Emirates Stadium, but it could also be decisive in the development of Arsenal players at the tournament.
Two players who will be looking to shine for their nations are midfielder Granit Xhaka and winger Alex Iwobi, representing Switzerland and Nigeria respectively, and the pair could use the tournament as a springboard to propel to better form with the Gunners.
Xhaka has come under plenty of criticism during his two-years in the Premier League, while Iwobi has struggled to maintain consistency after bursting onto the scene as a youngster and now faces a stern task to earn first-team football under Emery next season.
However, despite their struggles at club level, both are established members of their international side and will provide a huge impact to their nation’s fortunes – and fine performances can provide the platform to become crucial members of the Arsenal squad.
Iwobi is the player who needs to shine more than most, following the January acquisitions of Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and has a stern task ahead of him. Nigeria have been paired with Argentina, Croatia and Iceland in the group stages, leaving the Super Eagles with long odds to progress to the knockout stages when betting with Paddy Power.
Xhaka, meanwhile, already boasts a regular position in the Arsenal starting line-up but will need to improve his performances to maintain that spot with Mohamed Elneny, another Gunners player at the World Cup, providing competition alongside any new signings that Emery brings in.
Switzerland clash with Brazil, Serbia and Costa Rica in the group stages and Xhaka will need to be a force in midfield to help his side in their quest to advance into the latter stages of the competition, where he’ll earn further experience.
It’s also worth nothing that Xhaka, 25, and Iwobi, still just 22, have plenty of years ahead of them and the World Cup in Russia will provide valuable experience for the pair, who will be hoping to also feature for their nations in Qatar in 2022.
The World Cup’s four-year cycle always provides a good opportunity to analyse where players stand and the pair have the opportunity to become key-parts of Arsenal’s ranks in the coming seasons, so fans should definitely be cheering them on this summer.