English flavour at Arsenal again

It used to be a French revolution at Arsenal but now the club bares a distinct English appearance, with a large part of Roy Hodgson’s England team formed under Arsene Wenger.

There were five Gunners in the party to play San Marino and Estonia - Kieran Gibbs, Calum Chambers, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jack Wilshere and Danny Welbeck. It would have been six if Theo Walcott was fit and while some of them are home grown at the Emirates Stadium and some have been bought in, the fact remains - no team supplied more players to the England squad in the last round of internationals than Wenger’s. Arsenal’s England players aren’t merely making up the numbers either. Gibbs is evidently a rival to Leighton Baines for the left-back spot, starting in place of the Everton man against San Marino. Chambers has been touted along with the Toffees’ John Stones as the future of the England defence, a tag Oxlade-Chamberlain has carried for a while in midfield. Wilshere is no longer a player for the future after the retirements of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard and Welbeck is the foil to the captain and main striker, Wayne Rooney.

They all have crucial roles to play, be it now or in the future, and the same is true at club level. Gibbs, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Wilshere and Welbeck are four of Arsenal’s highest-scoring EuroFantasyLeague players. Chambers numbers are affected by the fact that Arsenal have kept only one Premier League clean sheet all season but the ex-Southampton youngster is still learning at this level. Give him time and he should become one of the highest-rated defenders anywhere.

Wenger had often said he wanted his Arsenal side to have more of an English flavour. At times it felt almost like tokenism, a way to keep at bay critics of his foreign imports. But the manager has proven a man of his word and it’s no exaggeration to say Arsenal are setting a trend that, if it was followed by other clubs, would leave the national team in much better shape.

Walcott’s return to fitness will only help matters further. The 25-year-old is back in training and, having been around the Arsenal and England set-up since 2006, is something of a young veteran. The prospect of Walcott linking up with Oxlade-Chamberlain, Wilshere and Welbeck is an appetising one for Arsenal - and better yet, it can be replicated for England too.

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