I’d keep Sanchez over Ozil says ex-Arsenal defender Upson

Arsenal's Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring his side's first goal at Southampton (pic Nick Potts/PA)

Arsenal's Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring his side's first goal at Southampton (pic Nick Potts/PA) - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Former Gunner believes Chilean inspires team-mates

Former Arsenal defender Matt Upson says if he had to choose he would love to see the club keep Alexis Sanchez over Mesut Ozil.

The Chilean scored his 20th Premier League goal of the season in Wednesday’s 2-0 win at Southampton, but his future at the Emirates – and that of Germany international Ozil – has been the subject of much debate this season.

Both players are out of contract at the end of next season and Upson said: “They are both incredible players so it’s a difficult choice and ideally Arsenal would keep both of them. If pushed on only keeping one, I’d personally keep Sanchez.

“I don’t think they can afford to lose someone with his energy and determination on the field. I’m not saying Ozil isn’t committed, but Sanchez displays it on a more regular and intense basis.

“I think the players look at Sanchez and are inspired to play with him, because he doesn’t give up. That’s a powerful thing that you can’t lose.”

Arsenal’s players have come in for some stinging criticism at times during the season, as they suffered a host of poor defeats and saw their hopes of qualifying for the Champions League badly hit.

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And Upson admits he would have loved to see N’Golo Kante join last summer, when the former Leicester midfielder signed for Chelsea, with whom he looks set to claim a second league winner’s medal.

He added: “I’m not in that dressing room, so I can only speak from the outside, but as with any team a lot of the mentality will depend on the balance of the dressing room.

“The main accusation often levelled against the Arsenal team is that you’ve got very similar players across the board; nice, technically-gifted players and you get the odd one, like Sanchez, who stands out because he plays with an intensity and in a manner that people want to see.

“In my opinion, you can’t simply give a footballer drive and determination to fight and display those characteristics – that comes from within the player.

“You look at the likes of N’Golo Kante and it’s a shame that Arsenal were unable to bring him to the club as he’s an example of a type of player many believe that Arsenal could benefit from. He has the drive, determination and the tenacity that fans love.”

As for who he thinks Arsenal should look to recruit this summer, in order to put themselves back among the Premier League title-chasers next term, Upson was less concerned with names and more interested in character.

He said: “Instead of one player, it’s a type of player I would like to see them sign.

“Arsenal don’t necessarily need big names, but they have to display that drive and determination.

“You need a presence, whether that’s in defence or in the centre of midfield, to win the ball back and be dynamic and aggressive.”