An era of uncertainty has dawned upon Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal in recent times. Once a dominant force of English football, doubts have cast a gloomy shadow on the North London club. Returning to Premiere League after another season filled with ‘Wenger Out’ chants, the Gunners managed to barely get past Leicester City in the opening fixture and then went on to lose against Stoke City in their second game of the season.
In a recent interview, Wenger addressed the questions regarding uncertainty about his future at the club: “Maybe my attitude had an impact on our season, because, at one point, the players came to me and asked me, “What is going on, boss? With my indecisiveness, I created a lack of clarity in the dressing room. And there is nothing worse than when players feel like you are not totally committed,” Wenger said.
Apart from questions surrounding the manager, the players no long appear to be dedicated to the club. Other than Olivier Giroud and Oxelade Chamberlain’s transfer news saga, questions regarding the future of star forward Alexis Sanchez at Arsenal have gained media attraction throughout the summer. The star forward has a year left on his contract, but has not extended his contract at the club. Moreover, with offers coming from rival clubs such as Manchester City, Sanchez looks doubtful whether he wishes to return as an Arsenal player this season. The former Barcelona player has missed the opening few games, reportedly due to hip injury.
In spite of the on-going tensions with the Chilean, the French manager has maintained Sanchez is not for sale, and in a blockbuster announcement, said that he will be fit to play in the upcoming game against Liverpool at Anfield. Sanchez was also seen training on the grounds this past week, offering Arsenal fans hope that he might be given a start at Anfield against Liverpool.
Sanchez, since his arrival at Arsenal, has been a force to reckon with for rival clubs. In last 3 years, the Chilean striker has scored 53 goals and 19 assists in 98 EPL appearances for the club. He also found the net thrice in Champions League last season. He was the highest goal scorer for Arsenal last year, and has been the focal point of Wenger’s attacking tactics.
In his absence, the German attacking midfielder Mesut Ozil, has looked a lost player in the middle, who just cant seem to make a movement right. Ozil is struggling to connect with the likes of Alexander Lacazette and Oxelade Chamberlain, and is looking completely out-of-form. Sanchez return on the field may further boost up Ozil’s game play and provide him with a better option to direct the crafty passes.
It is evident the 2017-18 season will be filled with uncertainty for Wenger’s side. But if one thing the 67-year old manager needs to do right, it is to knit a stronger, united team. The transfer rumours surrounding Oxlade Chamberlain and Sanchez must get over, and the side needs to urgently move on to bring a fresh start. The manager is on a two-year borrowed time. If he does not get things back on track, the fans might end his time for him.
Sanchez’ return to the club is the one thing that can return some confidence back to Arsenal. Against a weak defensive unit such as Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool this season, the Chilean might prove to be a key player and give the Gunners a crucial away victory. And then, it is up to Wenger to harness the confidence from the 3-points and re-build his side to take on mightier challenges. At this point, Wenger cannot afford to lose.
Klopp recognises the danger. In an interview, the German manager said, “The difficulty with Alexis Sanchez is that he’s pretty much involved in each situation, he is not fixed in one position… Wherever he is, he is very dominant; coming deep, half-space, wing, centre. [He is a] world-class player. That makes it difficult.”