Euro Gunner Watch: Reviewing the Gunners in Euro 2012
After a grueling period of constant speculation and advanced torture from the media Vultures linking Arsenal to Yann M’Vila, Olivier Giroud, enigma106 (yes, I was linked too!) and the Korean sensation, Fuck-in No-wan, football has come to save the day as it always does.
That cuntbutler, Michel Platini, and the rest of his chums in UEFA gave two young football nations the opportunity to co-host one of football’s greatest spectacles, the European Championships. The world is eagerly anticipating to know if any other team will have the “balls” to usurp the alpha-team in national team football, Spain.
This golden generation of Spanish football rose to prominence after winning the 2008 European Championships and this was followed by winning the biggest prize in world football, the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Their cockiness got the better of them in the 2011 Confederations Cup as they were humbled by the United States in the semifinals.
As eyes will be firmly fixed on Spain to know if they can replicate their amazing form in recent times to take on all comers yet again. Their possession football is a thing of beauty and it’s fabled that they treat the ball as a friend. The qualifiers and friendly matches are a part of history and the world awaits the team that would create history this time around.
Like every other club football juggernaut in Europe, Arsenal has sent its fair share of ambassadors to represent the Cannon in the tournament. The Euro Gunner Watch is a series of posts primarily focused on Arsenal players representing their countries in the forthcoming European Championships in Poland and Ukraine.
The Euro Gunner Watch will cover match reports of all the games the Gunners play in Euro 2012 as well as player profiles, statistical analysis and what have you. As I have reiterated earlier, it will be focused on the Gunners and their national teams; all other nations can burn in that feared location below ground level.
The tournament begins with 16 teams equally divided among four groups. From an Arsenal perspective, the Gunners are evenly distributed among each groups and they’ll be odds on to lock horns with each other. The first instalment of these series reviews the Gunners in Euro 2012.
Host nation, Poland, are paired in Group A with Greece, Russia and the Czech Republic. From an Arsenal perspective, Wojciech Szczesny, Andrey Arshavin and Tomas Rosicky will be in the spotlight.
Wojciech Szczesny had a great season by his standards and he amassed a haul of 18 clean sheets in his first full season at Arsenal. On the international scene, he has shown much promise, and his performance in the 2-2 friendly draw against Germany certainly caught the eye.
He has done well to usurp the likes of Artuc Boruc, Thomas Kuszczak and his fellow teammate at Arsenal, Lukasz Fabianski.
Szczesny will have to be on his best form to thwart the attack of Greece, Russia and the Czech Republic. He’ll surely be one to watch out for in the tournament, from an Arsenal point of view by the way.
Andrey Arshavin endured a difficult campaign with his parent club this season. His tumultuous period ended temporarily when his previous employers, Zenit St. Petersburg, came calling with a loan switch. He hit the ground running in the Russian League, got some games under his belt and has attained an optimal level of fitness to compete for the tournament.
However, he has a good record with his national team, and they’ll be hopeful that he can bring back the breathtaking form of Euro 2008 that made him a joy to watch as well as engineering a move to Arsenal.
Tomas Rosicky had a slow start to the concluded campaign but he flourished in the tail end of the season. Aaron Ramsey got the nod ahead of the Czech captain for a considerable chunk of the season but his form waned badly, paving the way for Little Mozart to strut his stuff.
Rosicky also has some history with the Czech national side, as he was an integral piece of the country’s golden generation of midfield generals that graced the 2004 Euros and the 2006 FIFA World Cup. That midfield had legends like Pavel Nedved, Karel Poborsky, Vladimir Smicer and Tomas Galasek.
Rosicky is a vital cog in the team’s engine room and they’ll look to him to pull the strings and orchestrate the midfield like the Mozart he is.
Co-hosts Ukraine are paired in Group B with France, England and Sweden. Laurent Koscielny is part of Laurent Blanc’s exciting Les Bleus outfut while Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are part of Woy Hodgson’s Three Lions setup.
Laurent Koscielny was a revelation last season as he produced stellar performances on a consistent basis all season long. Despite being paired with a host of defensive partners as well as playing in a make-shift right back role, Koscielny was evergreen and he made Arsene Wenger, his teammates and most importantly, the fans proud last season.
On the international scene, Koscielny faces a real battle in his hands to lock horns with Phillippe Mexes and Adil Rami for a first team berth. However, he was surprisingly deployed as a defensive midfielder in a recent friendly against Estonia and he put up a good shift.
THEO WALCOTT AND THE OX
Theo Walcott had a very productive campaign for the Gunners with 11 goals and 13 assists to his name as well as his fair share of on and off moments. He also had his injury problems but his telepathy with Robin van Persie increased with each passing game. The Ox on the other hand cost a fortune for a relative unearthed talent his age, but he exceeded every expectations and matched the ever-growing hype around him.
On the international scene, Walcott’s England career can be created in a book as it has had its fair share of drama to say the least. From boarding the plane to Germany at 16 to missing out on Euro 2008 with the rest of the English folks, from the hat-trick against Croatia to missing out on the 2010 World Cup.
Walcott will have a point to prove this time because English fans are dying to see him transfer his great Arsenal form last season to the Three Lions in this tournament.
Oxlade-Chamberlain on the other hand is playing in his maiden international tournament and a player of his amazing talent will grace international football for years to come. He has done well in the friendly games he has played and he will take his confidence levels into the tournament proper as he continues his fledgling career on both flanks.
Italy, Ireland, Croatia and Spain are the nations locking horns in Group C but it’s a bit unfortunate to know that there’ll be no Gunner to watch out for in the group. I believe that they fall into the class of teams that can burn in that feared location below ground level.
Despite the divided Arsenal fan base opinions about Cesc Fabregas, I still have a soft spot for him but don’t expect to see any match report of the Las Rojas on this blog, except they’re playing with a team that harbours a Gunner. We’ll have to wait till the quarterfinals to find that out.
This is undoubtedly the most mouthwatering group in the tournament. Three European and world football juggernauts in the form of the Netherlands, Germany and Portugal are paired together with surprise package, Denmark. The aforementioned teams are also favorites to lift the trophy and it’s going to be one hell of a contest because only two can emerge as victors from this epic group.
From an Arsenal perspective, Lukas Podolski, Per Mertesacker, Nicklas Bendtner and Robin van Persie will fly their nations flag and my eyes will be firmly fixed on them.
Nicklas Bendtner and his big mouth, cocky attitude, chewing gums and pink boots were shipped to Sunderland last season in his bid to get first team football as well as going away from the shores of North London, a place he has stated that he never wants to be again.
The Black Cats gave him his fair share of football matches with the exit of Asamoah Gyan to the Arab moneybags and Bendtner did his bit for the team, almost reaching double figures. However, the Sunderland hierarchy probably didn’t believe that his performance was good enough to warrant a permanent stay, so he’ll be coming back to Arsenal next season.
On the international scene, Bendtner is undoubtedly Denmark’s best striker and has hasn’t shown that he could be as great as the Laudrup brothers but he still has time on his side. Denmark will look to exploit his aerial prowess as well as other attributes and I have a hunch that Bendtner’s performance in the Euros will determine where he’s going to be next season.
PER MERTESACKER AND LUKAS PODOLSKI
Ze German Machines will be one of the favorites to win the Euros and they’ll need the output of everyone in the team, especially two of their first team regulars, Lukas Podolski and Per Mertesacker that have a joint total of close to 170 caps.
Ze Big F*ckin’ Giant put up a good shift for the Gunners last season before an injury in that pitch good enough to graze cattle, the Stadium of Light cut his season short. However, he’ll have a real battle on his hands in fighting for a first team place next season as Laurent Koscielny is now out of his league while Thomas Vermaelen still remains favored courtesy of his commanding style of play as well as attacking threat.
On the international scene, Mertesacker could reach a milestone of 80 caps as the season progresses and the Germans will hope that the scare in the friendly against Switzerland was just a glitch.
Lukas Podolski suffered the ignominy of relegation with FC Cologne but his contribution to the team last season was immense with 18 goals to his name. Joachim Loew will certainly hope that Prinz Poldi will continue that form in the Euros.
The Gooners will also get a chance to see their new man before he dons the Red and White next season. Has he gotten a number yet?
ROBIN VAN PERSIE
The Arsenal demigod in the making grabbed so many deserved individual awards for his selfless service to his team this season. Robin van Persie didn’t only top the goalscoring charts with an amazing haul of 37 goals, he also topped the assists charts with 15 assists to his name.
Van Persie has grown massively from the hothead at Feyernoord to a great striker under the tutelage of the Alchemist of modern day football, Arsene Wenger.
On the international scene, van Persie and Klass-Jan Huntelaar will battle it out to spearhead Bert van Marwijk’s super talented Oranje squad and I’m tipping this Gunner to follow the footsteps of Milan Baros and David Villa.
Besides, he scores when he wants.
I hereby declare the Euro Gunner Watch open.
Expect some lovely articles from the Gunners on song in Poland and Ukraine, and I won’t stop in giving you your daily Arsenal digest as well.
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