LONDON — Fresh from Arsenal’s first Premier League victory over North London rivals Tottenham since 2014, there was a spring in Arsene Wenger‘s step as he strode into his post-match press conference.
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Arsenal’s boss saw his attack-minded lineup dominate Tottenham at home as the Gunners secured an 11th-straight home win and sixth-straight home victory of the 2017-18 season to breath new life into their season.
With a dangerous three-pronged attack of Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez and Alexandre Lacazette destroying Spurs’ usually rock-solid defense on numerous occasion, Arsenal gave a taste of what can be achieved this season.
Consistency is key for Arsenal but keeping Sanchez and Ozil is more important. Their futures at Arsenal remain uncertain with the duo free to talk to non-English teams in January about a free transfer on July 1, both are likely to see what other clubs can offer them outside of the Premier League.
Speaking to the media afterwards, Wenger reaffirmed his belief that Sanchez and Ozil want to stay at Arsenal beyond the end of their contracts next summer despite the situation being totally out of his hands.
“The quality of the contract of the contract has to be good and enough for them as well, you know. I am convinced they love the club, they love the team but all the rest will be decided, when? I don’t really know,” Wenger said. “I’m not alone to master that. [Quality of the contract] is part of it. The whole thing has to be right, they have to be happy. I believe they love the club and they want to stay but there are other top clubs out there who offer good contracts as well.”
So, Wenger is bracing himself for Sanchez and Ozil to be offered big contracts from European giants as soon as Jan. 1 rolls around, then a barrage of transfer offers from other PL giants as they believe the duo will be available in cut-price deals. At this point, the Gunners must keep hold of the duo until the end of the season, even if it means they leave on a free.
With Sanchez scoring a cheeky goal, racing free on numerous occasions and forcing Hugo Lloris into several key saves, his signature on a new deal is essential for Arsenal to haul themselves back into the top four.
His desire and hunger was evident and he even had time to joke around in the second half, diving on his stomach to the delight of the home fans as he tried to slide towards a loose ball in the pouring rain in north London.
You can never question the Chilean’s desire but his displays have become more erratic over the past 12 months with this contract saga hanging over his head. Sanchez’s goal against Spurs was his first in 12 games against the so-called “big six” in the Premier League.
Ozil’s display yielded an assist and numerous eye-catching passes as Lacazette’s runs allowed Arsenal’s two contract rebels to have plenty of space in front of Spurs’ back three.
Wenger pointed to the fact that he has never once questioned their commitment and although Ozil and Sanchez’s futures remain uncertain, he believes they will continue to put their bodies on the line for the Arsenal cause.
“I know them well and I know when it is their turn to go on the football pitch they want to win a football game. They’ve shown their commitment again today. I’ve never questioned their commitment,” Wenger said. “They can have bad games but the problem is that when a player goes to the end of a contract and has a bad game everybody says ‘of course, because he goes.’ Their interest is to play anyway.”