Thursday, June 7
By Nick Ames
John Jensen, Nicolas Anelka, Sylvain Wiltord, Robert Pires, Patrick Vieira, Thierry Henry, Emmanuel Petit, Cesc Fabregas.
That’s the list of eight ex-Arsenal players who have lifted the Henri Delaunay Trophy, Europe's premier international football prize. Sitting in a slowly-stirring Gatwick Airport that seems a far cry from the party atmosphere I’ll step out to in a few hours’ time, I wonder if we’re about to see a ninth etch his name into continental history.
I’m about to fly to Kharkiv, in the east of Ukraine – commencing a journey in which I’ll be charting the progress of Arsenal’s sizeable Euro 2012 contingent. Nine current Gunners, and one imminent arrival, will be representing their countries in the competition – and I’ll be watching the majority in action in the next few weeks.
Kicking things off in Kharkiv this Saturday will be a meeting of two forwards, Robin van Persie and Nicklas Bendtner, on whom the hopes of Dutchmen and Danes respectively will be resting as their teams vie to escape an intriguing Group B.
Over the coming fortnight I’ll also see Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Laurent Koscielny, Per Mertesacker and new boy Lukas Podolski at first hand – and if Wojciech Szczesny, Tomas Rosicky or Andrey Arshavin make it out of Group A I’ll be looking to catch up with them in the latter stages.
During the course of the tournament I’ll be writing a daily blog from the heat of the battle, bringing you the best Arsenal angles from Euro 2012 as well as insights about life at a major tournament and travelling around Ukraine. There will be quotes, interviews and reaction from those involved and plenty more - so stay close to Arsenal.com for breaking stories as the action unfolds.
Despite justified fears about player fatigue this summer, not to mention other sub-plots making the news, I sense we’re in for an intensely competitive and sometimes spectacular June – with a concentration of quality not seen in any international competition over the past decade.
What price this resulting in at least one Arsenal player lining up for his country in Kiev on July 1, just 90 minutes away from joining that glittering list of Gunners alumni? I’m certainly not going to bet against it, and I hope you’ll join me in finding out as I follow Euro 2012 from a uniquely Arsenal perspective.Copyright 2013 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 7 Jun 2012