Weekend thoughts + Wenger is clear as mud on Ozil’s future

Hello everyone, there’s a hectic week ahead so let’s just take a quick look at what the weekend has done for the Premier League table. Man City fluked their way to yet another lucky win, but as I’ve written about previously it doesn’t do us any good to even bother looking at that. It’s all about what happens below.

We’re currently just outside the top four, a point behind the Liverpool team we’re playing on Friday night. That’s not going to be an easy game by any means, but it’s something we can discuss later in the week, especially as we have Carabao Cup action tomorrow night to consider.

Below us, Sp*rs are very fortunate to still have the services of Harry Kane and Dele Alli for the Christmas period. The challenges they made on Raheem Sterling and Kevin de Bruyne were the clearest red cards you’ll ever see, both late, dangerous and the City players were very lucky not to have sustained serious injury in both cases.

I now looking forward to referee Craig Pawson sending off Granit Xhaka for a Christmas fart the next time he’s in charge of us. He’s actually the fourth official for the game against Chelsea on January 3rd, a match which will be refereed by our old chum Anthony Taylor, so that’s something to look forward to.

Tomorrow night versus West Ham in the Carabao Cup is likely to be all change, we might see the likes of Giroud and Welbeck get a run out, but I suspect nobody who started against Newcastle will be in the team. What will be interesting is if Ainsley Maitland-Niles, who ordinarily would have been used for a game like this, is selected.

If not, it might hint at some involvement against Liverpool, although – as well as he’s played in the last two games – it would be a very brave move to start him at left-back and ask him to deal with Mohamed Salah. You might want to substitute the word brave for a word of your own, feel free.

Meanwhile, after his goal against Newcastle, the spotlight is well and truly on Mesut Ozil, and Arsene Wenger delivered one of the quotes of the season when asked about his future after the game on Saturday. The Frenchman said:

I’m confident, yes, but what does that mean? I don’t know.

Thanks for clearing that one up. He did try, in fairness, as further quotes emerged last night. Asked if having greater responsibility would convince him to stay, Wenger said:

I believe he wants to stay. He is not to be convinced.

I suppose he does need to be convinced to sign a new deal though, because as yet he hasn’t. There was, apparently, something of a Twitter storm yesterday as the official Arsenal account went heavy on the Ozil content, leading many to believe an announcement was imminent. It could be that, or it could be just the social media dudes doing their job and putting stuff out there for people to engage with and to get lots of delicious RTs and Likes.

Still, where there is light there is also dark. Where there is some measure of clarity from the Arsenal manager, there is also some cryptic shit that makes you wonder what on earth he’s talking about. It was put to him that we might miss Ozil more than Alexis Sanchez. His reply:

I wouldn’t like to compare. You want nobody to leave and see where we stand on that. But at the moment, it’s very difficult. Until the end of the season we know what he is, but after that I cannot tell you.

Right so! Personally, if I had to choose, I’d go with the German. It feels to me like he’ll last longer, and his skillset makes his game more adaptable. Sanchez is about intense physicality, those relentless bursts of energy that are much harder to sustain as you get older. You might ask if we’re already beginning to see him slow down just a bit, his form this season might be a consequence of that – but it could also be just a period when he’s not playing as well as he has in the past.

I also believe that when it comes to those two players, we have a greater chance of re-signing Ozil than Sanchez. We could offer the Chilean a huge contract, his own personal Instagram island, and a fleet of puppies and I don’t think it would make any difference to him. I think he wanted something new last summer, he’ll want it again this summer – if not before – and I suspect everybody inside the club knows that already.

Ozil is different though. He enjoys life in London and at Arsenal, I think if the terms are right he could stay, and it would be a good thing for the club. To lose both big stars in one summer would be so damaging in terms of reputation, so to keep him would make the rebuilding job that’s coming down the line (at pace) a lot easier.

It’d make it easier to retain the players in the current squad we want to offer new deals to, and also attract new players via the transfer market. ‘Come and play with Mesut Ozil’ is, like it or not, a more attractive sell to potential new recruits than ‘Save us, and here’s Coqeneny to help you out’.

With the transfer window open in a little under two weeks, and with both players able to sign pre-contract agreements with clubs abroad from January 1st, there is a measure of urgency. We have seen this before though, Theo Walcott was in a similar situation a few years back and signed a new deal in mid-late January. Anyway, we’ll see what happens there.

Right, that’s that for today. James and I recorded the Arsecast Extra last night, so there’s no need for questions today. I’ll have that up for you mid-morning, so look forward to discussion of Newcastle, Maitland-Niles, Ozil, a possible former player as future manager and lots more.

Until then.