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The Goonersphere Guide to EURO 2016!

EURO 2016 is finally set to get underway, as host nation France kick off against Romania on Friday evening. Being the patriotic, passionate England fan that I am, what better to do at this point than preview the only really important thing about this tournament... The Arsenal players involved! (I've gone through the countries in order of betting price via SkyBet)

FRANCE - 3/1 (Group A w/ Romania, Switzerland and Albania)

Laurent Koscielny and Olivier Giroud: The two French Gunners at the tournament come in in great form having combined for all three goals in the host's final warm up game. Not only that, but both can expect to be mainstays in the French teams, with Koscielny being the first choice centre back on the right and Giroud likely to be the main striker in the absence of Karim Benzema. Whilst Koscielny is arguably the best centre back France have, Benzema is pretty undeniably France's best striker. But thanks to the Real man's shady legal troubles, the French attack will be headed by our handsome frontman. Giroud has been through a testing time of late and hasn't got a lot of love from the fans, but his recent form has been very good, including that for his country. Those who fancy a flutter may be tempted to back the hosts to win the tournament and also Giroud for top scorer.

GERMANY - 4/1 (Group C w/ Poland, Ukraine and Nothern Ireland)

Mesut Özil: Arsenal's best player and certainly up there as one of Germany's best. Özil was a key part of the team that won the 2014 World Cup, with a truly brilliant performance in the final and you can expect him to feature heavily for Germany this time around too. Although we'd prefer to wrap him up in cotton wool and hide him away from the whispers of the Bayern players, Mesut will likely be going deep into the tournament with one of the favourites to win it all.

SPAIN - 5/1 (Group D w/ Croatia, Turkey and Czech Republic)

Hector Bellerin: Arsenal would have had no representatives in the Spanish squad had Dani Carvajal not got injured in the Champions League Final. But his loss is Bellerin's gain and the right back's meteoric rise shows no signs of stopping. To be honest, he was unlucky to miss out on the initial squad as it was, with only Juanfran and Carvajal's experience keeping him out. Now he's in, he may not be first choice, but he will certainly get some game time and that is testament to the talent this young man has. He has the world at his feet and I can't imagine he'll miss out on many Spain squads in the future. Steer clear of Fabregasss though Hector, don't join the dark side!

ENGLAND - 9/1 (Group B w/ Russia, Slovakia and Wales)

Jack Wilshere: The only Arsenal player in the Three Lions squad, Jack Wilshere is maybe slightly fortunate to be in France. He got just about enough minutes under his belt before Roy Hodgson made his decision to sneak into the squad, over the likes of Danny Drinkwater. However, there is little doubt that when fit and healthy Wilshere is by far and a way the best England midfielder and it's an absolute no brainier for him to be a part of this team. He's one of the few England players that offers some directness and creativity and if the Three Lions are to have any chance of going all the way, Wilshere will have a big part to play.

SWITZERLAND - 40/1 (Group A w/ France, Romania and Albania)

Granit Xhaka: Our new midfield maestro is a sure fire starter for Switzerland and has been for a while, which is quite remarkable given he's only 23. There'll be a lot of Gooners tuning into Swiss matches at the tournament, keen for a look at the new man. The Swiss are very much outsiders for the tournament, but will have a good chance of getting through to the latter stages and if they do, it'll be likely down to Xhaka's work from deep.

POLAND - 50/1 (Group C w/ Germany, Ukraine and Nothern Ireland)

Wojciech Szczesny: A slightly forgotten man given he spent the season on loan at Roma. He had a mixed time in Italy and it was sort of a microcosm of his career so far. He is a fantastic keeper at times, capable of sublime saves (see his fingertip stop vs RvP a few years back) but also horrendous lapses in judgement (see Southampton away last year). It is yet to be seen what Szczesny's role at Arsenal will be, if he stays at all, but certainly a good showing at these Championships will help him secure the number two spot ahead of Ospina.

WALES - 80/1 (Group B w/ England, Russia and Slovakia)

Aaron Ramsey: Gareth Bale is going to get a lot of attention as Wales’ star player, perhaps that’s why Aaron went for his adventurous/disastrous new hair style. Either way, Wales face an uphill battle in their first major tournament since time began. Ramsey will get to face off against an England team that will probably feature team mate Jack Wilshere, in what will be a key game in Group B. Realistically, Wales do have a chance to squeak through the group, but anything beyond that would take a minor miracle.

CZECH REPUBLIC - 100/1 (Group D w/ Croatia, Spain and Turkey)

Petr Cech and Tomas Rosicky: Rosicky is still technically an Arsenal player and actually showed some reasonable form in the warm up games. This is likely to be his last international tournament however and it would be nice to see him play well and go out on a high. Meanwhile the Czech’s will be relying on Cech to keep them in games and as 100/1 shots, you’d expect big Pete to be pretty busy. With Spain, Turkey and Croatia in their group, the Czech Republic will to very well to get out of group D.

Notable former Arsenal players at the tournament

France - Bacary Sagna - Set to start at right back for the hosts
Germany - Lukas Podolski - More of a backup nowadays, but still has a part to play for the World Champions
Spain - Cesssc Fabregasss - Señor Snake. I hope he has a terrible tournament and takes that form back to Chelsea with him next season.
England - Harry Kane - Just hoping a Sp*rs fan sees this and gets upset to be honest…
Belgium - Thomas Vermaelen - Former Arsenal skipper, now full time Barca bench warmer. Has seen next to no game time this season.
Sweden - Kim Kallstrom - Retiring soon, ‘notable’ stretches it a bit, but he did step up for a pressure penalty in the FA Cup semi against Wigan. Seb LarssonHe of the immaculate delivery. Probably someone who would have worked well with Giroud (see Vardy and Albrighton) but ultimately didn't make the grade.
Switzerland - Johan Djourou - Not the worst player we’ve had, but certainly not the best. A fairly average defender now plying his trade with Hamburg.
Poland - Lukasz Fabianski - Had a good season for Swansea and will be vying with Szczesny for the number one spot for Poland.
Turkey - Oguzhan Özyakup - A talented youngster in the Arsenal Academy, he didn’t quite make the grade, but has carved out a promising career with Besiktas since.

Players to watch

Here’s a few players you might want to look out for who have been linked to Arsenal or who may be on Arsenal’s radar in the future.

France - N’Golo Kante (CM, Leicester)
Switzerland - Ricardo Rodriguez (LB, Wolfsburg), Breel Embolo (ST, Basel)
England - Jamie Vardy (ST, Leicester)
Russia - Aleksandr Kokorin (ST, Zenit)
Germany - Mario Götze (AM, Bayern), Julian Draxler (AM, Wolfsburg)
Poland - Grzegorz Krychowiak (CM, Sevilla)
Spain - Alvaro Morata (ST, Juventus), Nolito (ST, Celta Vigo)
Austria - Aleksandar Dragović (CB, Dynamo Kiev)
- Michy Batshuayi (ST, Marseille)
Portugal - Raphael Guerreiro (LB, Lorient), William Carvalho (CM, Sporting Lisbon)


Winners - France look good as favourites. A very talented squad in their home country and with huge motivation to do the nation proud after the recent terror attacks, they are a good bet to win it. Germany are also hotly tipped off the back of their World Cup win.

Avoid - I might be well wide of the mark, but I really don’t fancy Spain. They’ve left a lot of incredible talent at home and on paper they have a very deep squad, but they also lost their final warm up game to Georgia. That’s really bad, even for a friendly. Portugal aso don’t look like getting far.

Dark Horses - England do have an outside chance. We’re listed as 9/1 fourth placed by SkyBet and other bookies and we have some talented youngsters. However the centre backs are not great and that may well be our downfall. Belgium also have a very talented squad and if you’re looking for some real outsiders, a la Greece, I like the look of Switzerland and Croatia.

Golden Boot - Olivier Giroud has a real chance to take home this honour, leading the line for the favourites. Thomas Müller is another obvious favourite, while Ronaldo will be a threat, especially in a group where he faces Iceland and Hungary. A few outside contenders would be Alvaro Morata for Spain and Romelu Lukaku for Belgium.

Stay tuned to Goonersphere where I'll have updates on the Arsenal players as the tournament progresses. Enjoy the feast of football everyone, good luck with your bets and sweepstakes and pray to the injury gods that all our boys come home safe and sound!

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Tags: Wilshere, Ramsey, Rosicky, Giroud, Koscielny, Germany, Özil, Bellerin, England, Cech, Euro 2016, Xhaka, Spain, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Wales, Euro 2016 preview

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