Morning all.

This World Cup hasn’t been particularly good so far in my opinion. Admittedly, I’ve not watched every match but I suppose at this stage of the competition, what matters most is getting past the group stage. As the better teams progress, perhaps the standard of football will improve as they face each other.

Brazil are already through to the next round and England look like they’re going to join them unless they suffer a hefty loss against Wales tonight which is highly unlikely in my opinion. The Netherlands or Ecuador will be their next opposition. Rather annoyingly, if both Ghana and Switzerland win their respective fixtures on Friday night, there’ll be no homecoming for Partey or Xhaka just yet. If both countries finish second in the respective group though, Ghana will be playing Brazil and Switzerland will go up against Portugal on Monday/Tuesday. Other Arsenal interest is with Japan. A shock defeat at the hands of Costa Rica means they need to beat Spain on Thursday  to guarantee a place in the next round, a loss and Takehiro Tomiyasu’s World Cup will be over regardless of what happens in the Germany v Costa Rica game. France are through too and I think I’m right in saying that so far, William Saliba has not played. Aaron Ramsdale and Ben White are yet to play too and neither Gabriel’s Jesus and Martinelli are starters for Brazil. Bukayo Saka on the other hand, has started both England fixtures. Gareth Southgate is being heavily criticised by the media for not playing Phil Foden enough so I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see the City player start tonight.

Back in England, the FA Cup draw took place last night and Arsenal have handed a trip to League One side Oxford United.

History between the two clubs looks like this.

The last time we kicked off our FA Cup campaign with a fixture against Oxford, we won the competition. A Robert Pires goal was enough to beat Southampton at the Millennium Stadium in the May of 2003. Luzhny was in the team that day…..

Five all Premier League ties came out of the pot last night:

Manchester City v Chelsea
Brentford v West Ham
Liverpool v Wolves
Crystal Palace v Southampton
Manchester United v Everton

The fixtures will take place over the weekend of the 6th and 9th January 2023. Should we beat Oxford, a fourth round match will be played before the end of the same month so potentially, we’ll have five fixtures in January. Five in February too. March is when things heat up a bit as the Europa League fixtures restart and if we’re still in the FA Cup, there’ll be a midweek match in the first week of the month.

Back at Arsenal, training has resumed for a number of players not in Qatar. Sambi Lokonga, Rob Holding, Reiss Nelson, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Cedric Soares, Gabriel Magalhaes and Marquinhos from the first team and youngsters Matt Smith, Myles Lewis-Skelly and Lino Sousa (I think) we’re captured on camera by the Arsenal photographer. Young goalkeepers Hubert Graczyk and James Hillson were also involved (Jeorge Bird) whilst Kieran Tierney, Martin Odegaard, Fabio Vieira, Mo Elneny and Karl Hein are likely to return in time for the trip to Dubai for some warm weather training later this week along with a few friendly fixtures.

Lastly, Kolo Toure is the latest footballer to enter the world of management as he’s been appointed Wigan manager. Good luck to him..

Enjoy the England game guys…..