Arsenal still have work to do ahead of new Premier League season
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After the Emirates Cup was cancelled last season due to Euro 2016 and pitch reconstruction work, the return of the pre-season tournament this weekend has been a welcome sight for Gunners fans.
Once again, however, the friendly event is spoiled by the fact there is still so much uncertainty at Arsenal, with the new Premier League campaign less than two weeks away.
In April, Ivan Gazidis said spring’s poor results would act as a ‘catalyst for change’ at Arsenal. Indeed, the early signs were good this summer when the club brought in two first team players and introduced Jens Lehmann to the backroom staff by early July. Since, however, progress on ins and outs has slowed considerably.
The side’s two main players, Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil, are yet to sign contract extensions and, with the transfer window still open, Gunners fans are worried both could still leave if substantial offers were to come in for the duo.
Sanchez, particularly, who claimed he was sick upon being asked to return to the club, seems to be testing Arsenal’s resolve and is not presenting himself as somebody who is thrilled to be at the club.
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Similarly, Alex Oxlade Chamberlain has only a year left on his contract and, with it being muted that talks have broken down with the Emirates hierarchy, the Englishman could also yet be seen walking out the exit door.
There are also question marks over the futures of Calum Chambers, Jack Wilshere, Kieran Gibbs, Carl Jenkinson, Mathieu Debuchy and Lucas Perez – all of whom appear to be surplus to requirements but have yet to secure moves away from the club.
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Meanwhile, with Santi Cazorla looking no closer to a return and moves for Thomas Lemar having hit a buffer, an creative midfielder may still need to be brought in if Arsenal have any realistic ambitions of sustaining a challenge for the title.
The club’s management have a lot of work to do over the next few weeks. It’s not ideal most of it will be while the team tries to navigate their way through a tricky start to the league season.
It’s not all doom and gloom though. Certainly, when you look at the signings of Sead Kolasinac from Schalke and Alexandre Lacazette from Lyon.
Both are canny deals in an inflated transfer market. The former was in the Bundesliga team of the year last season and available on a free transfer.
While the latter is a striker who has real scope for improvement after scoring 113 goals in the last four seasons and will create excitement.
Saturday’s impressive victory over Benfica was about continuing momentum from the end of last season where the Gunners won seven out of the last eight league matches and claimed the FA Cup.
Theo Walcott has stressed the significance of a strong performance in the Emirates Cup and how it can have a domino effect ahead of the new season.
With the Community Shield encounter against Chelsea at Wembley next Sunday, Arsenal can give themselves a fillip ahead of the opening league fixture against Leicester City by lifting two pre-season trophies in seven days, starting today.