G’day, a quick Sunday round-up for you.
The tour of Australia concluded with a 3-1 win over Western Sydney Wanderers (goals etc here). It was pretty routine stuff, the 10 second half changes thing went down again, but I think it was great for the fans down under to experience Arsenal in its truest sense.
It’s one thing watching us concede farcical goals on telly, but to see us let one in live must have been fantastic. Quite why Emi Martinez decided to pick up an Aaron Ramsey back pass on the edge of his six yard box is beyond me, but he did.
We were then treated to the sight of 11 Arsenal men stretched across the goal in Jose Mourinho’s favourite formation, and although the initial effort was blocked, one of their lads spanked home the rebound. A truly Arsenal moment.
It didn’t matter though. At that point we were 3-0 up thanks to goals from Olivier Giroud, Aaron Ramsey and Mohamed Elneny, and in the second half we hit the woodwork a few times before it was all done and dusted.
Now we head for China for games against Bayern Munich and Chelsea. Perhaps the nature of the opposition means they might be taken more seriously in terms of how people view the results, but they’re basically still training exercises above all else.
From the other side of the world, Chile in fact, comes a snippet of an interview with Alexis Sanchez in which he tells local press he’s made a decision about his future, and says it’s always been his dream to win the Champions League. I don’t suppose you need to be a genius to put two and two together there.
However, he’s also cognisant of the fact that he does have another 12 months left on his Arsenal contract, and that what he wants and what the club want might well be very different things, saying:
The truth is that the decision doesn’t depend on me. My decision has been made, but now we wait for a response from Arsenal. It depends on them, on what they want.
So, what do Arsenal want? Do they want another 12 months of Alexis Sanchez on the pitch? Do they want to let a hugely valuable asset leave for free if they do keep him? Do they want to try and source replacements as soon as possible before selling him this summer?
Arsene Wenger has said consistently that he is willing to keep him and have him fulfil the contract he signed back in 2014, but he has said that about other players too, and none of them were kept. I still can’t see any way we can sanction a deal to Man City, and at the moment there doesn’t appear to be much interest from elsewhere, so I’m not sure his departure – even if it seems apparent that’s what he would like – is quite as clear cut as some people think.
Elsewhere, the Mirror say that Everton are interested in Theo Walcott and are prepared to pay up to £30m for him as their summer spending continues. It seems a bit spurious, but that would be very tempting money indeed for a player who, if we maintain this current system, doesn’t really fit anywhere in particular.
Having given up on the idea of being a striker, he hit 19 goals last season from wide on the right – a very impressive return by any standards. However, the shift to three at the back means that position is now gone, the wing-backs provide the width and he is definitely not a wing-back. So, where is he going to play?
My suspicion is that the manager will want to keep him though, because his goals – while there are still doubts over Alexis and Olivier Giroud – provide some assurance in a way. If we keep the Frenchman, as the manager said he wanted to yesterday, and the Chilean for the final 12 months of his deal, then it might well be a case that we’d consider a Walcott sale.
If he does say though, I suspect he’ll have to be content with a more restricted role than he has been used to. He spent the last third of last season on the bench, and I think that’s something he might have to deal with again.
Finally, Arsene Wenger spoke about the future of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and seemed pretty definitive in his answer when asked if he’d be an Arsenal player next season:
Yeah. 100 per cent. I expect him to stay. There has been no speculation. No matter what happens he will stay.
Again, stay ≠ sign a new deal, so there’s still some room for speculation there, but perhaps AW’s confidence is tied to information we don’t have about the Ox and a new contract. Let’s see.
Right, that’s it for this morning, have a lovely chilled out Sunday as another week of madness begins tomorrow. Until then.