Friday, 3 February 2017

Charlie Nicholas is critical of Arsene Wenger's failure to resolve futures of Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez

Charlie Nicholas has criticised Arsenal for failing to secure the long-term futures of Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez in the January transfer window.

The Gunners have been in negotiations with their two key players over the past couple of months but neither Ozil nor Sanchez have put pen to paper on new contracts amid ongoing uncertainty surrounding Arsene Wenger’s future.

Arsenal signed Cohen Bramall from Hednesford as a talent for the future but Wenger didn’t bring in any established players to bolster his squad for the second half of the 2016-17 Premier League campaign.

Speaking to Sky Sports about Arsenal’s transfer business, the club’s former midfielder Nicholas was critical of Wenger for failing to resolve the futures of Ozil and Sanchez.

“Should they have done more? Yes. The loans all make sense but I’d have liked to have seen a couple of sales – Carl Jenkinson, Mathieu Debuchy, for example,” Nicholas said.

“That money could have gone towards what for me would have been two of the biggest deals this window: new contracts for Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil.

The greatest statement Arsenal could have made would have been to retain those two players and I’m disappointed they haven’t.”

The north London side were 5-0 winners in the FA Cup fourth round last weekend after Danny Welbeck scored twice and Theo Walcott netted a hat-trick against Southampton.

Arsenal lost 2-1 to struggling Watford in the Premier League at the Emirates Stadium on Tuesday night which was a hammer blow to their title chances.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to start in central midfield against Chelsea

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is set to start in central midfield for Arsenal against Chelsea on Saturday after Aaron Ramsey was ruled out with a calf injury.

The 23-year-old is predominantly a winger but he has repeatedly stated a preference for playing in the middle and manager Arsene Wenger has long since suggested that is where his future could lie. 

Oxlade-Chamberlain operated in a central role in last Saturday’s FA Cup fourth-round win at Southampton and again as a substitute for Ramsey in Tuesday night’s defeat to Watford.

Ramsey limped off after just 19 minutes and Arsenal fear he could be sidelined for at least a fortnight.

The Gunners have few other midfield options with Mohamed Elneny away at the Africa Cup of Nations, Granit Xhaka suspended, Santi Cazorla injured and Jack Wilshere on loan at Bournemouth. Meanwhile, the club have dismissed one report this morning suggesting Wenger gave his players today and yesterday off after the Watford defeat.

The training schedule was set at the start of the week and not altered in response to the result.

Chelsea v Arsenal Match Preview

Chelsea are aiming to kill off any lingering Premier League title hopes Arsenal have when the London rivals meet at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

Antonio Conte's Blues dropped two points with a 1-1 draw against Liverpool at Anfield on Tuesday night, but Arsenal's shock 2-1 home defeat to Watford - coupled with Tottenham's Sunderland stalemate - meant Chelsea extended their lead at the top of the table to nine points.

Chelsea increase take their advantage on Arsenal to 12 points with a win in Saturday's early kick-off, and the Gunners are up against it with Arsene Wenger's touchline ban and midfield injury problems mounting.

While a win would by no means seal the title for Chelsea as early as February, a victory for Arsenal would give the Gunners - and the rest of the chasing pack - hope that Conte's men can be caught.


David Luiz admitted after Chelsea's draw at Liverpool that he has been carrying a knee injury which means he cannot train every day, though the Brazilian still turned in an impressive display at Anfield with a superb free-kick goal.

Conte has no further injury concerns for Saturday's clash with Arsenal, although the Italian coach may privately be concerned with Eden Hazard's lacklustre displays of late, as well as a below-par performance from Victor Moses at Anfield.

Arsenal have midfield injury problems for the trip across London, with Aaron Ramsey a major doubt after coming off against Watford after just 20 minutes with a calf strain.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has been used in central midfield with Wenger's options limited of late, though he himself was limping towards the end of the Emirates defeat on Tuesday. However, Wenger has confirmed the England international should be fit - a boost considering Santi Cazorla is still out and Mohamed Elneny remains at the African Cup of Nations.


Chelsea: Courtois; Azpilicueta, Luiz, Cahill; Moses, Kante, Matic, Alonso; Hazard, Pedro, Costa 

Arsenal: Cech; Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal; Coquelin, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Walcott, Ozil, Sanchez; Welbeck