Arsenal's presence at Euros dwindles because of injuries and poor form
Four years ago, no club had more players at the European Championship than Arsenal, as the Gunners equalled Bayern Munich's achievement of sending 12 men to Ukraine and Poland. How times have changed.
Due to a combination of injuries and poor form, the Arsenal contingent at the Euros in France this summer looks set to be half that size -- despite the tournament having grown by eight teams.
It's a development that could have a double-edged effect on the team next season.
On one hand, some of Arsene Wenger's regular starters -- such as Hector Bellerin (who made Spain's training squad, but not the full one), Nacho Monreal and Francis Coquelin -- should be well rested after being overlooked by their national team managers. But the likes of Theo Walcott and Kieran Gibbs may start wondering whether their international careers would be better served by getting more playing time elsewhere.
Furthermore, the fact that Jack Wilshere is the only Gunner in the England squad continues a worrying trend of under-representation for Arsenal despite the club's efforts to build around a strong English core.
Aside from Wilshere, the other Arsenal players set to play at the Euros are: Petr Cech (Czech Republic), Mesut Ozil (Germany), Aaron Ramsey (Wales), Olivier Giroud and Laurent Koscielny (both France), and on-loan goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny (Poland). That's not counting the Czech Republic's Tomas Rosicky, as he is out of contract.
Santi Cazorla was among a long list of absentees for Spain after recently returning from a long layoff and German World Cup winner Per Mertesacker has retired from internationals; Bellerin (Spain) and Coquelin (France) have never played for their senior national teams, while Monreal has yet to earn a regular spot with Spain despite a great season at left-back with Arsenal.
Injuries may have ruled out Danny Welbeck and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for England, but Walcott and Gibbs were spurned by Roy Hodgson after failing to lock down a regular starting job in Wenger's side.
Of course, if any of the England players were to get injured during the three warm-up friendlies, Walcott and Gibbs are likely to be high on Hodgson's list of replacements. But Arsenal have still fallen way behind the other top Premier League clubs when it comes to producing England internationals lately.
The last time Arsenal had more than two players in the England squad at a major championship was the three-strong contingent at the 2006 World Cup -- Sol Campbell, Ashley Cole and the 17-year-old Walcott, who never came off the bench.
There were no Gunners in the 2010 Three Lions squad, two in 2012 (Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain), and two in 2014 (Jack Wilshere and Oxlade-Chamberlain, who was injured and never played.)
With one player in this summer's squad, that's a total of five in the last four major tournaments for Arsenal.
During that same span, Liverpool have provided 19 (three in 2010, six in 2012, five in 2014 and five in 2016. Tottenham's total is 12, despite not having a single England player at the World Cup in Brazil. Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea have all had a bigger England representation as well, despite their heavier spending on foreign stars.
While injuries have certainly curtailed those numbers for Arsenal, it still raises questions about just how strong their English core really is. As for Bellerin (named the best right-back in the Premier League) and Monreal, their exclusion probably says more about Spain's depth than their own quality.
There is one consolation for those players staying at home next month: they get to go on the team's preseason tour to the United States, when many who played at the Euros will likely still be on holiday. But perhaps that's a bigger positive for Wenger than for them.
Mattias is ESPN FC's Arsenal correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @MattiasKaren.