This week’s round of World Cup qualifiers will see a number of international teams contesting spots in South Africa. Being the top European club that we are, Arsenal of course have a huge percentage of their squad participating in these games – many of which will return back to London with smiles on their faces and a few that won’t.
Taking into account the games to be played, here then are my predictions as to those Arsenal players we’ll be able to watch in South Africa at next year’s World Cup and those that will miss out.
Nicklas Bendtner – Yes!
Right into the juicy stuff then. I fancy Denmark to get home in a tough group that features Sweden and Portugal, they only need to beat the Swedes tomorrow at home and they’ll be through. While my tip is a draw between the two Scando teams the Danes should smash Malta in the final group game, thus sealing a fairly straightforward progression. And just for the record, Ol’ Pink Boots could be a good outside tip for the golden boot in South Africa. You heard it here first…
Johan Djourou & Philippe Senderos – Yes!
Both of our Swiss defenders are unlikely to feature for their country – Djourou because of injury and Senderos because the Swiss manager doesn’t seem to like him a whole lot – but it won’t stop them making the World Cup. They only need to get a win over Luxembourg this weekend and they’re through, leaving Djourou with plenty of time to get his knee fixed and Senderos to convince the manager that he’s not a bad bloke. Good luck to both of them.
Tomas Rosicky – No!
The Czech captain’s place at the World Cup is not looking good with his country sitting in fourth in the group and relying on Slovakia beating Slovenia this weekend to stay in it. It could happen and the Czechs might sneak a playoff spot by winning their last two games but even if they do, I can’t see them winning through to South Africa. Sorry Tomas.
Lukasz Fabianski – No!
Poland are even further off the pace in the Czech Republic’s group, so it’s pretty much curtains for the Tadpole’s 2010 World Cup dreams.
Andrey Arshavin – Yes!
Arshavin’s Russia will essentially seal their place in the World Cup if they beat Germany tomorrow night, with the final game against mighty Azerbaijan all but a formality. As captain of Russia Arshavin will be out to put in a good performance tomorrow and I actually fancy the Russians to beat Germany, particularly with Dutch genius Guus Hiddink at the helm. Seriously, when has that guy failed? And even if he does, Russia are well-drilled enough to win through a play-off, so I fancy Arshavin bringing his big personality to South Africa next year.
Aaron Ramsey – No!
As good as he has been playing for Wales, Ramsey’s World Cup dreams are nonexistent with his team trailing Germany and Russia by 12491032525 points.
Cesc Fabregas – Yes!
Cesc and his fabulous Spain team are already there and potential favourites for the big one. Not with me though, I fancy Brazil.
Thomas Vermaelen – No!
As good a bloke and player Vermaelen clearly is, his presence will not be enough to see Belgium to the World Cup. They’re fourth in a group that features Spain, Bosnia and Turkey with two games to play, cannot mathematically qualify. Apparently we should watch out for Belgium in 2014 though, when Vermaelen and his youthful buddies will be quite a team.
Theo Walcott – Yes!
He might not be in the squad for England’s games against Ukraine and Belarus but Fabio Capello would be mad to leave the speedster out of his World Cup squad. Pen him in.
Eduardo – Yes!
The sad thing for Eduardo and his Croatia team is that as good as they are, their fate will largely be determined by England. If England roll over against Ukraine then it puts the Andriy Shevchenko and Co in the driving seat but should the Three Lions do the right thing and steal a point or three then Eduardo is as good as through. A tough one but as much as I despise the English national team I think they’ll do the noble thing and help Croatia through.
William Gallas, Gael Clichy, Bacary Sagna, Samir Nasri & Abou Diaby – Yes!
With France trailing Serbia in their World Cup group the above quintuple are almost certainly going to have to qualify via the play-offs. But even with the incompetent Raymond Domenech at the helm a strikeforce of Karim Benzema and Thierry Henry as well as the Arsenal brigade should be more than enough to see the French qualify for South Africa. It could be a very sad Arsenal dressing room if they cock up and let Austria steal their spot though…
Robin van Persie – Yes!
His recent injury might have stopped him from visiting Australia over the week (booo!) but Holland’s poxy group means they basically qualified before they kicked a ball. Van Persie will be willing and ready to hit the woodwork 12 times in South Africa next June.
Denilson – Yes!
Brazil might have already qualified and Denilson might have have precisely as many international caps as Manuel Almunia, but for some funny reason I can see the midfielder making it into the Brazilian team for South Africa. It might take Gilberto Silva being hit by a tram or Felipe Melo coming down with starfish flu but Denilson is a decent little player and if he does enough to impress this season then Dunga could well include him in their squad.
Carlos Vela – Yes!
After a woeful start to the qualifying campaign under Sven Goran Eriksson, Mexico have recovered to look the goods to make it to South Africa. Carlos Vela continues to play a big part and with only El Salvador and Trinidad & Tobago to play, the man with the silkiest chip in world football will certainly be there in June.
Alex Song – Yes!
Song’s Cameroon currently lead their group after four games, one point ahead of Gabon and another ahead of Emmanuel Adebayor’s Togo. The two ex-teammates clash tomorrow and should Song run out the victor then Cameroon will be at the World Cup yet again. I fancy them to do it, although a poor result would see a nervous wait before a tough away game against Morocco, so Song shouldn’t be counting his chickens just yet.
Emmanuel Eboue – Yes!
With the Ivory Coast already qualified, Eboue’s butt-wiggling, over-the-top diving, moustache-wearing personality will be on display for all to see in South Africa next year. If ever an African team has looked good to win the prize then it is this Ivory Coast team which contain the Toures Kolo and Yaya, Didier Drogba, Salomon Kalou and our man Eboue, and on home-ish soil they certainly look a decent outside shot.
So commiserations to Vermaelen, Fabianski, Rosicky and Ramsey, who will not be making it to the World Cup this time around. But to the other 17 I say in advance, well done! You surely deserve it!
Let’s see how right/wrong I am…
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