Mikel Arteta is such a genius that he’s even solved an England World Cup injury ‘crisis’

Bukayo Saka and Mikel Arteta embrace Credit: Alamy
Bukayo Saka and Mikel Arteta embrace Credit: Alamy

England have worries over at least EIGHT players (they don’t) but Mikel Arteta has single-handedly solved one problem…


Worry warts
It’s not great for Ben Chilwell or England that he has an injury that could keep him out of the World Cup but Mediawatch notes that he has started five England games in two years so we’re not screaming ‘crisis’ at this point.

We’re not…but this is The Sun:

‘BEN CHILWELL has added to Gareth Southgate’s nervous three weeks before the World Cup with a heartbreaking injury.

‘The Chelsea left-back’s hamstring woe against Dinamo Zagreb means the England boss has fitness fears over at least EIGHT players.’

Not just EIGHT, but at least EIGHT.

Well, it’s news to Mediawatch who thought England simply had something of a right-back problem with Reece James likely ruled out and Kyle Walker a doubt, though Pep Guardiola said even he is ‘likely’ to be fit.

So that makes three (sorry, THREE). But it turns out there at least EIGHT issues.

So as well as Chilwell, Walker and James, The Sun tell us we have…

* Fit Manchester City defender John Stones.

‘The Etihad central defender is fit after missing six games with hamstring problems.

‘But although he returned at RIGHT-BACK in last Saturday’s 1-0 victory at Leicester he was rested against Seville on Wednesday and could be rusty for the World Cup.’

He did play at RIGHT-BACK (which we think is still technically football) and Manchester City have three fixtures in eight days next week. We think he will be fine.

* Fit Manchester United defender Harry Maguire.

‘England’s centre-back mainstay finally regained his Premier League place for Manchester United in Sunday’s 1-0 win over West Ham.

‘But although he produced his finest form of the season, there have to be question marks over how match-tuned he’ll be in Qatar.’

Manchester United have four games in 11 days. Harry Maguire might still be sh*t at the end of all that, but he will definitely be ‘match-tuned’.

* Almost-fit Manchester City midfielder Kalvin Phillips.

Now they might have a point here but Phillips has started only one England game in 2022. He absolutely should not be starting ahead of Jude Bellingham. We refuse to panic about the fitness of Kalvin Phillips.

* Liverpool midfielder Jordan Henderson.

‘Liverpool’s midfield workhorse hasn’t made his usual impression this season, and not only because a hamstring injury kept him out for five matches.

‘Southgate is known for his loyalty and Henderson for his commitment, but the 32-year-old could be a bit fragile for a whole tournament.’

You are just listing players who have been injured now.

Oh and Henderson has played three 90-minute games for England in two years; he’s not supposed to play a ‘whole tournament’.

* Fit Everton striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin.

‘Everton’s main man up front seems to be recapturing full fitness after his season only started in October due to a knee injury.

‘But of all the players on England’s “worry list” he’s maybe the only one who wouldn’t be a contender to start even if completely match sharp – thanks to the goalscoring pedigree of Three Lions’ skipper Harry Kane.’

He’s not been in an England squad since the summer of 2021. He’s barely a contender for the England squad, never mind the team.

This is the exhaustive list of English players who have scored four or more Premier League goals this season: Harry Kane, Ivan Toney, Phil Foden, James Maddison, Callum Wilson, Harvey Barnes, Marcus Rashford and Bukayo Saka.

What do they all have in common? That’s right…they’re all fit.

Indeed, of the 15 England players who featured in September’s credible 3-3 draw with Germany, only Reece James is expected to miss the World Cup.

‘Worry list’, my arse.


Crisis talks
In the Mirror, this worry list has officially been upgraded to a ‘crisis’. This is DEFCON 1.

‘Mikel Arteta gives Gareth Southgate “radical” Arsenal solution to World Cup injury crisis’

What constitutes a ‘crisis’?

‘Chilwell is the latest Englishman to suffer an injury in the days leading up to the World Cup. Reece James and Kyle Walker-Peters are almost certain to miss the tournament through injury, while Kyle Walker and Kalvin Phillips are still to make their comebacks.’

So, one excellent defender is likely ruled out, another with two caps is also injured and two others are ‘likely’ to be fit but they’re not quite ready yet. It sure sounds like a ‘crisis’.

‘Chilwell’s injury leaves Southgate wondering who he should play at left wing-back.’

It really hasn’t. Of the five games England have played with wing-backs in 2022, Luke Shaw has started three and Bukayo Saka two games.

‘Presuming the England boss adopts his favoured 3-4-2-1 formation, Manchester United defender Luke Shaw is the big favourite to occupy that role in Chilwell’s absence.’

Not just in Chilwell’s absence but more generally; he is England’s first-choice left wing-back.

‘But what if Shaw gets injured? Or what if Shaw, who has struggled with his fitness in the past, needs a rest? Thankfully for Southgate, Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has given him with an alternative in Bukayo Saka – who is a winger by trade.’

Quite apart from the nonsense that is ‘has given him with an alternative’, what the f*** are you talking about? Mikel Arteta has provided England with an alternative at left wing-back despite, and this seems important, not actually playing him at left wing-back?

Let’s return to that headline:

‘Mikel Arteta gives Gareth Southgate “radical” Arsenal solution to World Cup injury crisis’

So the Arsenal manager has given the England manager a ‘radical’ solution even though the England manager is the only one who has actually used it?

Seems absolutely kosher and absolutely not a way to milk clicks from Arsenal fans on a story about a Chelsea injury.

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