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Arsenal players who will shine at Euro 2016
Arsenal may have made the remaining Premier League fixtures more tense than they should have been following a run of three draws in four games that has left the door slightly ajar for teams behind to believe they can compete for a top four finish, with the upcoming European Championship in France arguably becoming a distraction. The players will undoubtedly have one eye on representing their respective countries this summer, and with every manager of the twenty-four participating nations at Euro 2016 likely to have everything crossed in the hope that none of their star players pick up any injuries in the remaining weeks of the domestic season, it would be easy to suggest that some players may be taking their foot off the pedal.
Arsene Wenger will need to rally the troops in order to ensure that Arsenal secure a top four finish that may keep him in the job next season, although it may not result in Champions League football if Manchester City manage to go all the way next month and finish outside the top four. Dining at Europe’s elite table may be the only way that Arsenal will be able to attract the players they need to come back stronger than ever next season, but while fans may make their own predictions on Coral as to which team will prevail at Euro 2016, the tournament may also be valued by Wenger as a scouting mission to identify potential targets. He will also be watching on in the hope that those who receive call-ups return to the Emirates injury-free and raring to go next season, with a number of players aiming to make up for a trophy-less season with international glory.
Arsenal will wonder what could have been if they had Danny Welbeck fit for the whole season, with the 25-year-old enduring a long-term layoff that left Wenger short of attacking options. Some would argue that Wenger’s stubbornness to splash the cash on adding strength in depth to a squad that becomes thin on the ground when the inevitable injury bug kicks into gear is to blame, but Welbeck’s absence should not be under-estimated. The England international has certainly bounced back well from his injury nightmare, with Welbeck looking very sharp and hungry to perform well for club and country.
Roy Hodgson is certainly a fan of Welbeck, and while he would love to have fellow Gunner Jack Wilshere in the squad, there are question marks over whether the young star can prove his fitness in time. The fact that Theo Walcott and the Ox have endured disappointing seasons and are currently short of first-team football may also rule them out of consideration, leaving Welbeck to fly the flag for Arsenal. Welbeck stands a good chance of starting for England in their opening fixture against Russia, which fans able to watch it on TV and bet in play with Coral in support of the Three Lions. Lowered expectations may turn out to be a blessing in disguise for England, with the wealth of talent and in-form players at Hodgson’s disposal hopefully coming together to finally put fifty years of hurt to bed.
Many Arsenal fans have been left disappointed by the fact that Mesut Ozil did not make the PFA Team of the Year following another excellent season in which his superb vision and range of passing has been instrumental in everything good about Arsenal going forward. The German magician set a new Premier League record for the number of chances created in a single season, surpassing Frank Lampard’s total of 134 for Chelsea in 2008/09 in the disappointing goal-less draw at Sunderland. Ozil will look to take his creative form onto the international stage with Germany who often thrive upon playing in major international tournaments, with their supreme professionalism and quality putting them among the strong favourites in the latest Euro 2016 betting odds. Joachim Low values Ozil as an integral part of his team, and with Germany likely to have a number of strikers that are much more clinical than he has sadly become used to at Arsenal, then the 2014 World Cup winners could assert themselves as the dominant force in world football.
Hosts France have destiny in their sights this summer, with Didier Deschamps’ side hoping to replicate the success of eighteen years ago when they lifted the World Cup trophy at the Stade de France following a 3-0 win against Brazil in 1998. They have come through an uncertain period in which Les Bleus endured a period of decline, with Laurent Koscielny amongst a current crop of players who appear to have the quality to mount a serious challenge to triumph on home soil.
He has established a strong partnership alongside Raphael Varane at the heart of the defence, and while France have considerable quality further upfield in the form of Paul Pogba, Blaise Matuidi and Antoine Griezmann, remaining tough to break down may prove to be the recipe for success. Koscielny has enjoyed a strong season for Arsenal, despite a few lapses in concentration that have proved costly, and although team-mate Olivier Giroud is likely to join him in France’s 23-man squad, the centre-back stands a better chance of being a focal point under Deschamps this summer.