In some ways it was a good night for the Arsenal players involved in Euro 2016 last night, as the England midfielder Jack Wilshere and the Wales midfielder Aaron Ramsey both joined the French duo Koscielny and Giroud and our new Switzerland star Granit Xhaka in the knockout stage. England are currently fourth favourites for the trophy with every online sportsbook, but Wales are still considered big outsiders despite ending up on top of England’s group.
But it was the Welshman who had the better night by far, as he scored the opening goal in a 3-0 win over Russia as well as providing the assist for Gareth Bale to score the third. That is Ramsey’s second assist of the tournament and completed a dream group phase for the Welsh in their first international competition for donkey’s years.
Wales topped the group due to their wins over Slovakia and Russia because England could only draw with both sides despite dominating the games. And what is worse for Wilshere is that he was the first player replaced by Roy Hodgson and in many places like The Mirror he was given the lowest player rating of all the England players.
Jack looked like he ran out of steam to me. He was well off the pace and was losing the ball and failing to find team mates with his passes and it was no surprise to see him replaced by Rooney in the 56th minute. There were some positives for the Arsenal man though, as he started the game and looked dangerous for about half an hour, including a sublime lofted pass to get Vardy in and we have to bear in mind his lack of game time in the last two seasons.
Plus his chances of further time on the pitch at Euro 2016 were probably helped by the fact that Rooney did not fare much better and neither did the Tottenham youngster Dele Alli when he came on and that this hour of football will help his match sharpness. It was a frustrating night all round for the three lions who came up against a resolute Slovakia and in particular a defensive rock in Marten Skrtel and a keeper who had one of those nights.
But that is now five Arsenal players into the knockout stage and more to join them later today. Which players do you think are most likely to go all the way? I’m putting my money on Mesut Ozil and Germany…