Groundhog day again for Arsenal; Ozil's words a serious issue too

The North London club have fed the world different variations of the same joke for more than a decade and the 2016-17 one seems to have arrived.

Published: 11th January 2017 11:35 PM  |   Last Updated: 11th January 2017 11:35 PM   |  A+A-

Arsenal footballer Mesut Ozil (File|AP)

Express News Service

Death, taxes (if you are not named Donald Trump) and Arsenal turning the lights out and pressing the self-destruct button as soon as early autumn sunshine gives way to winter snow.

The three guarantees in life.

The North London club have fed the world different variations of the same joke for more than a decade and the 2016-17 one seems to have arrived. On time like the Swiss train service. The early loss to Liverpool felt out of place as Shkodran Mustafi, Alexis Sanchez and Co took the club from bottom in the 'as it stands' table the first Sunday of the season, to the top after the second Saturday in December.

That's when the four horsemen of the Apocalypse – injuries, a week in Merseyside and Manchester, good, old shambolic Arsenal defending and Mesut Ozil sleepwalking through big games – decided to strike. This time out, though, there is a bigger issue at play. Arsene Wenger's contract is ending and so is Ozil's and Sanchez. The latter two have 18 more months left (former's expires in six months) and the German spent some time talking about the situation in length during an interview to Kicker earlier this week.

"I am very, very happy at Arsenal and have let the club know that I would be ready to sign a new contract," he had told them. "The fans want that I stay and now it is just down to the club.” 

"The club knows that I am here most of all because of Arsène Wenger. He is the one who signed me and he is the one whose trust I have. The club also knows that I want to be clear what the manager is going to [in the future]." It's obvious why the impish but somewhat fragile No 10 wants some clarity on the Frenchman's future. The latter gives the freedom the former craves. Chances of another manager coming in and asking Ozil to track back and put his fair share of tackles will prove detrimental to his play in the opponents' final third. 

But the situation surrounding the Chilean is more serious. There were rumours of an incident inside the dressing room following the 3-3 draw at Bournemouth. It's obvious that Sanchez has been enjoying a fine season – up front as a central forward until very recently – but world-class players crave trophies and Arsenal aren't close to one this season. Few other players match his work rate and he has been cutting a very frustrated figure of late.

There is an increasing feeling that Ozil and Wenger will sign on but Sanchez will opt to leave. Not the most ideal of scenarios if you are an Arsenal fan. Ideally, one would like both of them to sign on and play out their peak years there but if there was a case of or, Sanchez should be the one who should be retained.

Players of Ozil's ilk can be found and moulded in a particular way. Francisco Suarez (popularly known as Isco), James Rodriguez, Julian Draxler (even though he has just moved), Mario Gotze et. al. can all be procured but there really is no like for like for Sanchez. Borussia Dortmund's Marco Reus is one. Arsenal have looked at him in the past and is one of the closest to the 28-year-old. However, he doesn't bring the bring the same fire and the bloody-mindedness. To make matters worse, he is injury prone, not exactly a trait the Gunners want in potential players. 

PSG, (enter unnamed Chinese club willing to throw the sovereign wealth of an African country), Juventus and Chelsea among other clubs have expressed an interest in securing Sanchez's signature. The clamour for him will increase if Arsenal dither, in the title race (or what's left of it). 

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