After a compelling set of quarter-final matches, Arsenal have just one player remaining at the World Cup. Here’s how things went down…
🏴 Bukayo Saka
Despite being kicked all night by a physical French side who weren’t quite sure how to handle him, Bukayo was, by some distance, England’s most effective attacking outlet. There was a 15-minute spell in the second half where the game ran through him and it came as no surprise when he finally won a penalty, awarded after he was cleaned out by Aurelian Tchouameni. Ex-Arsenal striker Harry Kane put that one in the top corner to level the scores and, at that point, England should have sealed the deal inside 90 minutes. Olivier Giroud’s header on 78 minutes came against the run of play and the subsequent substitution of Saka didn’t much help their cause. England did have the chance to take the game to extra-time with a second penalty, awarded by VAR for a blatant push on Mason Mount, but this time Kane did the most Spursy thing possible by hammering the spot-kick into the same moon crater as Chris Waddle’s effort in Italia ‘90. Had England won, they’d have fancied their chances against Morocco, instead, it’s another disappointment and lots of soul-searching.
Total minutes played (exc. stoppage time): 293
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) December 10, 2022
🏴 Aaron Ramsdale
While we’re sure he’s pleased to have experienced a World Cup up close, he’ll no doubt have mixed feelings about not getting any game time. Given he’s four years younger than Pickford, he’ll fancy his chances of usurping the Everton keeper further down the line but that may depend on Gareth Southgate’s future.
Total minutes played (exc. stoppage time): 0
🇫🇷 William Saliba
Unless France suffer injuries to their first-choice centre-back pairing it seems fairly likely that Wilo’s bench duty will continue when his country faces Morocco in Wednesday night’s semi-final. No doubt he’s desperate to play but the way things are shaping up that’ll only happen if they lose and end up in the third-place play-off. On the other hand, experiencing a World Cup final at 21 is not a bad consolation, even as a bit part player.
Total minutes played (exc. stoppage time): 27
🇧🇷 Gabriel Martinelli
Defeat to Croatia can’t be compared to 1950s Maracanazo but the shockwaves are still reverberating around Brazil. Victory (and a semi-final showdown with Argentina) was in their grasp courtesy of Neymar’s fine goal in the first half of extra time but they were punished on the break by Bruno Petkovic’s deflected finish in the dying minutes and the alarm bells started ringing. Croatia never looked back after keeper Dominik Livakovic saved the first penalty from Rodrygo as they eased to a 4-2 shootout win. Martinelli experienced everything from the bench, no doubt frustrated that he wasn’t given a chance to influence proceedings but relieved not to end up the villain. It’s a toss-up whether that accolade goes to Marquinhos who fired his penalty against the post or Neymar, who didn’t take on at all.
Total minutes played (exc. stoppage time): 111
É difícil para eu colocar isso em palavras. Estou arrasado por nossa jornada na Copa do Mundo ter terminado dessa maneira.
A todos os fãs que nos apoiaram, gostaria de agradecer. Ouvir todos vocês nos estádios e ver os vídeos de vocês em casa é algo que eu nunca esquecerei. pic.twitter.com/W4FCY7ge4m
— Gabriel Martinelli (@gabimartinelli) December 10, 2022
For an update on which World Cup participants have returned to Arsenal first team training, click here.