Who’s The Gunner To Watch At The Euros? By Dan Smith
So we now know which countries will be going to the Euros and who will be playing who. We just don’t know if or how many fans will be allowed into stadiums by then. That’s even created doubts over if the tournament needs to be hosted by just the one nation.
So while we are in the middle of an international break, what better time to preview which Gunners will be represented at the European Championships?
It might be an indication of how far we have fallen that it most likely won’t be as high a number as previous years.
We had 8 players in the 2016 edition, 9 in 2012, 7 in 2008, 8 in 2004, 9 in 2000, (pre 96 Leagues were dominated by domestic players so zero-point counting).
In fact I can’t even make this a traditional Dan top 10 list. I counted that 8 is more likely and that’s being very kind.
Here I rank from worst to best which Arsenal player could most likely steal the show next summer.
UEFA are carrying on this horrible rule that you could qualify for the knockout stages by finishing 3rd in a group of 4. It means you could potentially advance with one win. It also maximises the chances of our players appearing in the later rounds.
8-Cedric – Portugal
I’m being kind here but before an injury at Southampton he was part of the Portuguese squad (plus I need the numbers!).
To no-ones surprise, settling for playing in the occasional cup tie at Arsenal has not helped his international ambitions.
When his country won the Euros 4 years ago, he started in every knockout round apart from the Final. This time he probably needs Portugal to get an injury at right back to get selected, but if he does, don’t be shocked if he gets another winners medal. As things stand, I’m putting my tenner on the Portuguese to win the whole thing.
7-Leno – Germany
The way some gooners have over-praised our keeper since he arrived in English Football, you might have assumed he would have been his country’s number one by the time the Euros rolled around. In reality he’s miles behind Manuel Neuer and Stegen.
He couldn’t have timed for a worse season to lose his form. He should be worried that even in the Nations League Kevin Trapp was picked ahead of him. He needs to improve to even make the squad.
Next time you hear someone say he’s one of the best in Europe, just point out he’s not even one of the best in his own country
6-Maitland Niles – England
Versatility will help his chances of making Gareth Southgate’s final squad. Yet England are blessed with options at left and right back, and if he’s only a makeshift full back for his club why would he be anything else for his country?
He has ambitions to eventually play in midfield but can’t break into one of the worst Arsenal midfields in recent years so it’s unlikely he would for the Three Lions. The fact that he can play in numerous positions might give him an advantage.
5-Bellerin – Spain
In midweek Hector Bellerin played his first game for Spain in 4 years. You would think us fans would be proud of the full back for overcoming a couple of serious injuries to get back to a level where he’s getting international recognition? Yet I have never seen some gooners so less supportive than some have been towards one of our own players winning his 5th cap.
He’s in his managers mind but needs to do more to be a starter. Would be interesting to see how he plays with better players though.
4- Xhaka – Switzerland
It seemed that Arteta had fixed the player’s relationship with our fanbase. Maybe for the first time gooners appreciated tactically what the midfielder did for us?
Murmurings have started again after 4 defeats in 8 League games, with his name often brought up as an example of average talent being overpaid. In his homeland though he is celebrated, one of the first players the Switzerland media will seek out for his opinion.
He was made Swiss captain earlier this year so will 100 percent play against Italy, Turkey and Wales. Quite a turnaround considering where he was 12 months ago.
3-Saka – England
He was man of the match against Ireland, although that was viewed as England’s second choice team. If Saka starts against Belgium, that would be an indication that his manager trusts him.
Unfortunately, Southgate seems very selective on youngsters. Some he trusts, some he doesn’t. How, for example, does Grealish not make his first 11?
I think under a different coach, Saka could be one to watch in this competition, but it could be right place, right time, wrong boss?
2-Ceballos – Spain
At the back end of last season Arteta got the best out of Ceballos by dropping him deeper. That’s kind of undermined his reputation in Spain where he’s viewed as one of the nation’s top youngsters.
Everyone was buzzing about his performances when winning the Under 21 Euros, but he was playing further forward. If though there is a Gooner who could put himself in the shop window it could be him.
1-Tierney – Scotland
The irony is that Scotland have waited years for a world class player and now have two in the same position ahead of the Euros.
He’s shown for us though he has the footballing brain to start in the middle but time when it’s appropriate to bomb down the flank. With respect though, does his teammate have the understanding to do the same?
It might be better for Clarke to play Tierney on the right where he can also play. British fans know how good he is, but this could be the moment the rest of Europe learns it. Could he be Arsenal’s biggest star at the Euros?
Okay that was more depressing than I thought it would be when I started. Let’s be honest, I’m being generous with those 8. Some might not even make their squads – let alone start.
I would say only Xhaka and Tierney would 100 per cent to start for their countries at these Euros.
That’s shows how far we have fallen. Gone are the days where we made up the entire French team.
Of course there is every chance another player steps up, hits a purple patch and gets a call up.
If I revisit this at the end of the season and there are more names on this list than that, it means our campaign has gone well.
If you can think of anyone else that could impress at the Euros, put them in the comments…