Arsenal are reportedly in the process of negotiating for contract extensions with manager Arsene Wenger as well as superstar duo Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez

Arsenal, a team many had almost ruled out as possible contenders for the title at the start of the 2016-17 campaign. A loss to Liverpool at Emirates to open their campaign was unpleasant to watch for the supporters. However, what was alarming was the 4 goals that were conceded by the Gunners defence on that day.

Even though Arsenal managed a clean sheet in the very next Premier League game against the defending champions, the defensive flaws were evident and alarming. Wenger was criticised for the lack of reinforcements and the Frenchman replied with two additions from La Liga.

A dismal start to the campaign. (Picture Courtesy - AFP/Getty Images)
A dismal start to the campaign. (Picture Courtesy – AFP/Getty Images)

Prolific forward Lucas Perez was brought in from Deportivo La Coruna while the central defence saw further strengthening with the arrival of highly rated German international Shkodran Mustafi in a big money move from Valencia. While the forward seemed a bit off his pace, Mustafi looked to have slotted in perfectly alongside Koscielny as Arsenal turned around a woeful start to the season, ending August on a good note with a 2-1 triumph over Southampton.

And, they have not looked back since. A barrage of gols coupled with a flurry of clean sheets meant Arsenal had put together a neat run of 7 wins while remaining undefeated in all but 1 of the matches they played in the current season.

From woeful to wonderful. (Picture Courtesy - AFP/Getty Images)
From woeful to wonderful. (Picture Courtesy – AFP/Getty Images)

Talking purely of the league, Arsenal notched up 6 wins on the trot with the last of them coming in a close 3 – 2 encounter against a Swansea side under a new manager in Bob Bradley.

THE IMPORTANCE OF THE TRIO

We managed to lay down the form guide of the Arsenal side and even though the addition of Shkodran Mustafi and the red-hot form of Theo Walcott could be chalked down as possible reasons of their streak, taking a closer look would make one realise that the puppeteer deserves some credit.

Arsenal have been hailed as a possession-savvy club and even though a slight transition was seen last season, the current season has seen the North London club being transformed into a club that are, often, willing to let go of the lion’s share of possession with the main aim at the prize that is 3 points.

Reaping dividends of the Subtle changes to the tactics. (Picture Courtesy - AFP/Getty Images)
Reaping dividends of the Subtle changes to the tactics. (Picture Courtesy – AFP/Getty Images)

The fixture against Chelsea could be cited as the perfect example of the new, revamped Arsenal playing style. Arsenal have not broken into the 70% – mark in any of the Premier League or Champions League matches thus far.

The Gunners are averaging a lower percentage of possession than previous seasons with greater number of attempts and goals to show for their cause.

The game against Ludogorets was an outstanding result wherein the Emirates saw Arsenal rip the Bulgarians to shreds in a 6-0 win in the Champions League tie. One would think that such a dominant result would have yielded a great amount of possession but Arsenal, in fact, were miserly in terms of possession compared to their opponent, which should tell one and all about how Arsene Wenger has started to set his side up in recent times.

The Frenchman has, finally, shown that he is willing to adapt to the tactics of the modern football, which is starting to pay dividends. And, the manager warrants immense credit for the current form.

However, Wenger has not done it by himself. He has been helped by the dexterity of Alexis Sanchez to carry out the manager’s instructions with aplomb. A large part of Arsene Wenger’s reluctance to shift from the possession control tactic could be credited to a lack of speed both at front and on the wings.

Back to fitness and back among goals. (Picture Courtesy - AFP/Getty Images)
Back to fitness and back among goals. (Picture Courtesy – AFP/Getty Images)

Olivier Giroud just does not have the skill-set to thrive in a counter-attacking style of football and Wenger was often seen deploying Aaron Ramsey on either of the wing. Theo Walcott was mostly injured, Alex Oxlade Chamberlain had failed to impress in the chances he was given and the French manager was, at times, forced to play the possession game.

Counter-attacking football requires three major pieces – ball-playing defenders, technically gifted players and speedy attackers. The introduction of Mustafi into the lineup as Mertesacker’s replacement has now fulfilled the first criteria. Arsenal already had a plethora of technically gifted players at all positions but what has changed is the club’s options in the third criteria.

Theo Walcott is back fit and seems to be in the prime of his career, but the major difference has been the deployment of Alexis Sanchez as an out-and-out forward. The Chilean has incredulous pace combined with class and technique that often produces jaw-dropping moments, such as the first-goal against Ludogorets.

Sanchez is the enabler of the whole system and at present, it is tough to find another player in the squad that can replicate the Chilean’s efforts, something which Wenger seems fully aware of, as the Frenchman has retained the player as the front-man for 7 consecutive games, taking only Premier League and Champions League fixtures into account.

Alexis, Arsene and Arsenal. (Picture Courtesy - AFP/Getty Images)
Alexis, Arsene and Arsenal. (Picture Courtesy – AFP/Getty Images)

One would have to go all the way back to August’s final game against Southampton to find a fixture wherein debutant Lucas Perez was given the responsibility of leading the front-line.

Another key ingredient of the Gunners’ success is the presence of Mesut Ozil. While Sanchez has 6 goals and 5 assists to his name, Mesut Ozil has quietly recorded a return of 6 goals and 1 assist with lower minutes credited against his name thus far. The German international is a master of the passes and possesses unmatched vision.

Ozil is the perfect partner-in-crime for Sanchez, with the German more than able to match the Chilean in terms of technique. The duo, combined, have more than double the Man Of the Match recognition credited to them this season as compared to the rest of the squad. (Man of the Match as per whoscored.com)

BRIEF REASONING IN FAVOUR OF THE TRIO’s STAY AT ARSENAL

Arsene Wenger: One needs to only take a glance over their shoulder over at Manchester, precisely the red half, to analyse the after-effects of the end of Ferguson era. Arsenal do not have a replacement lined up, as of yet. They have been reported to be eyeing Eddie Howe as a potential replacement to Wenger but in reality, the Bournemouth boss lacks the experience of managing at a big club and if appointed, may need a considerable amount of time before he hits his stride.

The appointment of Eddie Howe may just turn out to be a situation akin to Moyes’ succession of Ferguson at Manchester United.

Two of a kind. (Picture Courtesy - AFP/Getty Images)
Two of a kind. (Picture Courtesy – AFP/Getty Images)

The other name that has been doing the rounds recently is former Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini. But, unlike Wenger, Mancini has shown in the past that he is often, unwilling to pay heed to the Board’s orders and his recent sacking from Inter Milan was heavily due to the revolting nature of Mancini towards the hierarchy, something which is far from what the Gunners hierarchy have been accustomed to with Wenger as the head-coach.

Alexis Sanchez: Everyone knows how important Alexis Sanchez is to the Arsenal setup. The player is at the heart of almost every Arsenal move and is now doing a similarly astounding job at providing the end-product. The Chilean had previously stated that he feels he has the same skill-set as Messi and Ronaldo and given his current deployment as a central striker and focal point of Arsenal attack, the player seems to have undertaken the same responsibility on his shoulders as the esteemed duo.

Even though his returns are not as close to the returns recorded by Messi and Ronaldo, he seems to be having a similar impact at Arsenal as they have for Barcelona and Real Madrid respectively.

The Chilean has reportedly ask for a release clause to be inserted into the contract and even though it does show his intentions a bit, it does not entirely mean that the player wants to leave.

Teaming up for destruction of the opposition. (Picture Courtesy - AFP/Getty Images)
Teaming up for destruction of the opposition. (Picture Courtesy – AFP/Getty Images)

The release clause request may just merely be on the ground that the Chilean has an escape route in case he wishes to move and judging by how things are going and his growing importance to the Arsenal setup, it is highly doubtful that he would seek a move soon.

Mesut Ozil : This is a contract that should be the first priority for Arsenal, perhaps, even over Sanchez. The player has not shown or indicated anything that may infer that he intends to leave anytime soon and Ozil seems to be loving his life in London. As per recent reports, Ozil has stated that he would only sign an extension after Wenger’s deal is done and that demand seems appropriate.

There is no telling which way Arsenal will go after Wenger leaves and Ozil simply wants to ensure that the Frenchman is there, at least for the duration for the extension, if not more. Unlike Sanchez, Ozil seems happy to renew the contract with only a couple of wishes. One is the extension for Wenger and the other is a pay rise, something which Sanchez has also asked.

Mutual admiration. (Picture Courtesy - AFP/Getty Images)
Mutual admiration. (Picture Courtesy – AFP/Getty Images)

All things said and done…

Arsene Wenger is the chef who has constructed a magnificently well-balanced cake and if Alexis Sanchez is the cherry on the top, Mesut Ozil is its icing. Many people associate icing as a luxury or something that is often regarded as an accessory rather than a component.

Just like the icing on a cake, a player like Ozil has often been termed as an accessory or a luxury for a team with many opining that a trequartista who does not track back is often a liability for the team on the defensive side. However, recent times have seen a shift in that view.

Many managers are now willing to accept the cons in exchange for the pros it provides and recent results have shown that the benefits outweigh the other end more often than not.

To the past success and many more. (Picture Courtesy - AFP/Getty Images)
To the past success and many more. (Picture Courtesy – AFP/Getty Images)

Wenger has reportedly been offered a new deal with talks getting underway as regards an extension, which is the first step towards securing the future of the trio with the club.

The Frenchman has come out in the pre-match conference on Friday that the future of the superstar duo, Ozil and Sanchez is not dependent on his own future at the club and that his own future is not a factor in either of the deals. Wenger also added that the club are in touch with the duo and their representatives over an extension.

Even if the aforementioned turns out to be true, Wenger is still an entity Arsenal simply cannot risk losing. For the Frenchman is not just a manager but the identity of the club, and even though the Frenchman has come out and said his future does not weigh in on the other deals, Arsenal’s chances of extending the deals of Ozil and Sanchez would be greatly helped upon the Frenchman’s agreement to extend his stay at the club.

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