The European Championships are scheduled to take place this summer, although you can be forgiven for not being 100% certain that the dates will go ahead unaltered. The good thing for rsenal fans is that you would think that if Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith-Rowe keep playing like this they may get a Euro 2021 bonus by being included in Gareth Southgate’s squad. And maybe Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Joe Willock could be there if they do well out on loan.
The Top divisions around Europe have managed to continue their protracted schedules throughout the new season, after a minor suspension of action in March for a number of countries, but with little disruption to the timetable domestically, you would expect the international tournament to play out.
The Champions League and Europa League this week may raise questions however. Arsenal are playing Benfica (who play in Portugal), but because of certain countries travel restrictions, the first leg of the tie is to be played in Italy. We also have Chelsea playing Atletico in Bucharest, Man United playing another Spanish side in Italy, while Hoffenheim v Molde is set to take place in Spain.
While this is UEFA’s way of getting around countries ‘red-flagged’ lists and regulations, this should strike alarm bells for Euro 2020 (in 2021). This edition was supposed to be staged in a number of countries, with England to host the semi-finals and final, but the above tells me this won’t be possible.
Whether or how the competition takes place however is somebody else’s headache. Arsenal will play in Italy which is of consequence, as we lose the advantage of playing the second-leg at home which has proved to be profitable over the years.
Should our team go far in the competition, which our recent form should tell you is a strong possibility, our players could well find themselves selected for their country’s squads. and rightly so.
ESR is yet to make his senior debut, but I struggle to believe that Southgate will not already be considering giving him his chance, especially if he can not only flourish in both AM and wide roles, but his understanding with Saka is one of wonder.
Saka has already impressed our country’s coach however, despite his young age, and you would imagine that he would get the nod for his versatility if nothing else, although I believe his call-up will surely come on merit as he shows immense levels of consistency way beyond his years.
The thinking is only bolstered when you consider his rivals for his preferred right-wing role, with Raheem Sterling deserving his place, while question marks remain on the form and consistency of both Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford.
While I don’t think Holding will get a call-up this summer, should he remain as consistent as he has been this season (and injury free), I don’t see why he couldn’t be in contention for the World Cup in 2022, but we also have some starlets in our youth sides who have huge potential also.
Joe Willock (currently impressing on loan with Newcastle) has bags of potential, and while he showed his ability in the Europa League, something was missing from his EPL performances prior to leaving on loan.
Folarin Balogun was recently rated in FourFourTwo’s top 50 most exciting teenagers in world football, and is currently linked with a number of top clubs, and has enjoyed his time with the England youth levels already, while Miguel Azeez is also rated strongly within the international set-up having featured at each level up to the Under-18s thus far.
The future is definitely bright for Arsenal if we can blood these talents into the first-team as planned, and I would love to see our core of talent break into the international scene for England also, but the players have to earn it.
Has Smith Rowe’s emergence come too late to earn the call-up? Which young Gunners are you most sure will follow Saka into the England set-up?