Arsenal stars to turn their attention towards Euro 2016

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Finishing above our local neighbours Tottenham for the twenty-first consecutive season is reason enough to celebrate and believe it has been a successful campaign, but it should be valued as a missed opportunity. Arsenal may never get a better chance to end their long wait for a Premier League title, with Leicester City producing the biggest shock in league history by finishing ten points clear at the top in a season where the big guns continued to falter. The Gunners are not exempt from this, with complacency, tactical stubbornness and an inability to produce big performances when the team is expected to win the main reasons why we never really came close to catching the runaway champions. Coral may consider us strong favourites to challenge for the Premier League title next season, but it will take significant moves in the transfer market to add the level of quality at Arsenal are crying out for in key areas. That all depends on whether Arsene Wenger remains in charge and if the board loosen the purse strings, and with the amount generated through television revenue set to increase even further this summer, there may be no better time for the Gunners to strengthen in order to compete.

The players will now turn their attentions to the upcoming tournaments this summer, with a number of Arsenal stars set to meet up at training camps with their respective international team-mates ahead of Euro 2016 in France. Wenger would probably have preferred if his team enjoyed a prolonged rest in order to recharge the batteries ready for the campaign ahead, but representing your country at a major event is a proud moment in any footballer’s career. Unfortunately, Danny Welbeck has been robbed of the chance to play for England, with the knee injury picked up at Manchester City ruling the 25 old out for an estimated nine months. Roy Hodgson is a fan of Welbeck and will be disappointed to see him miss out at Euro 2016. The Three Lions are rated amongst the dark horses to return home triumphant, and with the likes of France and Germany likely to include Arsenal players, the Emirates could see a Euro 2016 winner return brimming with confidence.

Breaking the Premier League record for most chances created in a season illustrates just how effective Mesut Ozil has been once again for Arsenal, with his vision and range of passing coming to the fore for club and country. Joachim Low is a fan of Ozil and values the 27-year-old as the man to make things tick in the final third and provide the service to the likes of Thomas Muller upfront. Germany will look to add the European Championship trophy to the World Cup they won two years ago in Brazil, with their ruthless efficiency and professionalism usually coming to the fore in major tournaments. Low’s team topped their qualifying group despite stern tests against Poland and Ireland, and although England proved that they are beatable in the recent friendly between the two teams, Ozil could be the leading light of Euro 2016 if Germany hit top gear.

Olivier Giroud certainly has his critics for club and country, but the Frenchman reminded everyone of what he is capable of on his day with a hat-trick in the 4-0 rout of Aston Villa which saw Arsenal finish second above Tottenham. His chances of shining at Euro 2016 have been significantly boosted by the decision not to call up Karim Benzema due to off-the-field matters, and although there is no guarantee that Didier Deschamps will pick Giroud as his first-choice striker despite making the cut, his excellent end to the season will surely have caught the eye. France will have to carry the weight of expectation of shoulders as hosts, although history would suggest that Giroud will return to the Emirates with a winner’s medal due to the fact that Les Bleus won their previous two tournaments on home soil back in 1984 and 1998.

Arsenal fans may have been left aggrieved by Wenger’s stubbornness to only bring in Petr Cech last summer (making us the only club across every major European league not to sign a single outfield player), but the 33-year-old has proven to be an inspirational signing. Chelsea’s loss has been our gain, with the Czech Republic international keeping sixteen clean sheets in his first season at the Emirates and producing big saves on the occasions when his team needed him most. Cech may yet finish the season with the Premier League Golden Glove away if David De Gea concedes in Manchester United’s rearranged game against Bournemouth, but his commanding presence and quality has provided the solution to a long-term problem at the club. His country are not expected to pull up any trees at Euro 2016, particularly after being drawn in a tricky group along with Spain, Croatia and Turkey, but if Cech can stand up tall and keep the opposition out, then the Czech Republic might fancy their chances of reaching the latter stages.

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