Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Arsenal and Mikel Arteta handed a new reason to worry over Man City thanks to Qatar World Cup

Arsenal and Mikel Arteta handed a new reason to worry over Man City thanks to Qatar World Cup

Lionel Scaloni’s evaluation of Julian Alvarez following Argentina’s World Cup semi-final victory against Croatia was music to the ears of Pep Guardiola, but perhaps not Mikel Arteta. Likewise, it is a music with which Manchester City boss Guardiola is well familiar.

In fact, Guardiola paid just £14 million to River Plate on his 22nd birthday in January so that Alvarez could conduct the exact same piece at the Etihad. He has scored four goals in Qatar.

“Julian Alvarez was excellent not only because he scored a brace but he was very helpful with the midfielders,” was the main theme from Scaloni after the comprehensive 3-0 semi-final win over Croatia on Tuesday booked Argentina a place in Sunday’s final.

“With his age it’s normal because he wants to give it everything. He played excellent football. We are very happy with him. Scoring goals is great for a striker like him.”

Two goals and an uncompromising run that resulted to Argentina’s first penalty would ordinarily make a candidate for man of the match. However, FIFA appears determined to offer these match-by-match accolades to the most recognizable players rather than the finest ones.

And Lionel Messi’s mesmerizing assist for the third goal was once again all they needed to assure the star player was properly groomed for an interview with the rights holders. Similarly, after spending an additional six months on loan at River Plate as part of the contract, Alvarez finally arrived as the long-awaited central striker in the summer only to discover that Erling Haaland had already been given the No. 9 shirt and was making all the commotion.

However, if he is always hidden in the shadows, it is because that is where he likes to be in order to launch unanticipated attacks against defenses. El Aranita was given the nickname “the little spider” by his family when he was four years old and used to play in the streets with older boys. His involvement in all three goals against the Croatians was evidence of his ability to lurk.

Due to a mistake in the Croatian midfield and a brilliant assist from Enzo Fernandez, Alvarez was in the ideal position to tackle Dominik Livakovic as he poked the ball past him. Then, he was able to produce the genuine score when, aided by two fortunate deflections, he evaded two tackles to earn the opportunity to score.

Then, when Messi was weaving his magic around Josko Gvardiol on the sideline, do not underestimate Alvarez’s ability to find the precise location in the packed penalty area for the simple ball that stopped all the deception. Alvarez’s ability to interpret the game makes him, if anything, more of a Guardiola player than Haaland.

None of which bodes well for City’s Premier League rivals when the race for the championship restarts after the holiday break. Arsenal had pinned their hopes on their own South American striker, but Brazil’s Gabriel Jesus returned from Qatar early for an operation that might sideline him for three months.

Meanwhile, Erling Haaland has been recuperating for a month and will be ready to return to action once the celebrations in the Middle East conclude. What if not? It turns out that Guardiola has the ideal substitute player. Keep eye on this Arsenal.

Arsenal and Mikel Arteta handed a new reason to worry over Man City thanks to Qatar World Cup

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