11 December 2015

Euro 2016 Draw: How have Gunners boosted their country's performances?

Normally, we might look ahead to another round of international duty as just another chance for various Gunners to get fatigued or injured, but it's well-worth remember how vital so many of them are for country as well as for club. In many cases, in fact, there seems to be a correlation between coming to and featuring for Arsenal and earning a larger role for one's country. With that in mind, Jonathan Rodgers weighs in with a quick assessment of how five of our most important players have been or become just as vital to their respective countries. Get in, Jonathan!

Life at the Emirates is pretty sweet at the moment. Flying high in the Premier League and through to the Champions League knockout stage for a 16th straight season, the Gunners have enjoyed something of a renaissance in 2015, displaying flair of old and, finally, some more solidity at the back. As has always been the case, Arsenal have a significant number of international regulars amongst their ranks and, with everyone looking forward to next year’s Euros in France, the spotlight on such players has never been brighter. Let’s look at five of Wengers players and assess how they perform on international duty for their clubs.

Theo Walcott (England)
Recently described by Match of the Day pundit Alan Shearer as ‘too nice’, Walcott has played something of a bit part for his country over the years. Often absent (either on the pitch or because of injury), he hasn’t exactly set the world alight, bar an impressive hat trick against Croatia in 2008. Now, however, he appears to be carrying his club form onto the international stage, having contributed significantly to England’s Euro 2016 qualifying campaign.

Mesut Ozil (Germany)
The German midfield maestro has been a regular fixture for his country at international level but has endured something of a trying time at Arsenal. The form he has displayed on the biggest stage of all looks as strong as ever, though, with Ozil playing a significant role in Germany’s ascent to the top of Group D.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (England)
He’s made the front cover of a FIFA game and has been described as ‘one to watch’ by many a pundit, but Oxlade-Chamberlain has suffered from a number of injuries which have dented his progress. That said, he looks sharp now and has gained a number of starts under Roy Hodgson. He provides some much needed direct running at international level and a mature head.

Aaron Ramsey (Wales)
The Welshman enjoyed a stellar 13/14 season in the Premier League but has struggled to maintain similar form for Arsenal since then. At international level, however, he has managed to help his beloved Wales reach their first tournament in fifty-eight years by playing a key role throughout qualifying.

Olivier Giroud (France)
Giroud has played well enough domestically to become Wenger’s first choice striker, but his confidence is rather fragile at the moment, having been booed by his home country fans following a poor first half performance for France against Serbia. When on song, he is often unplayable, but he clearly has some ground to make up on the international stage.

Thanks for that, Jonathan. I'm sure we'll look forward to the draw. Almost all of our European players play for countries in Pot 1—France, England, Spain, and Germany—but Czech Republic is in Pot 3 and Wales is in Pot 4, so there could be some Gunner-on-Gunner civil wars. I'm sure they'll handle the potential conflict with all the grace and gentility that the occasion requires. Before that can happen, though, we'll have to deal with a tricksy trip to Villa Park to face Aston Villa. More on that soon. 

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