Could these three players be leaving Arsenal as well as Alexis Sanchez?

It’s no secret that there is some trouble behind the scenes at Arsenal. Once again their fans are having to deal with mid-season struggles as well as some discontent in the squad. This summer could mark the biggest changes at the club in recent history, with the possibility of Arsene Wenger leaving and a number of players who could be departing the club.

There has been plenty of uncertainty over the future of Alexis Sanchez, the Chilean has looked a lifeless figure at times, not helped in part to his attitude according to fans and pundits alike. If the goal-machine does decide to ply his trade elsewhere it could spark an exodus from a number of other members of the Arsenal side. But a possible departure of Sanchez may not be the only reason these three players decide to knock their time in North London on the head…

Mesut Ozil

The German playmaker is one of the most talented players in the Premier League, whether or not he puts in enough effort and does it on a consistent basis is another question. He has appeared very happy since joining the club and has a good relationship with Wenger. If both Sanchez and Wenger were to leave Ozil’s mind may be swayed. He is 28 now and Arsenal’s chances of winning the league have all but passed for another season and they’re heading out of the Champions League barring an astonishing turn-around. Ozil is a winner and another season without the top prizes could prove to be too much for him.

If another high profile European club came in for his services Ozil could be convinced to leave the club. He will want to continue to compete at the top and there are no guarantees that Arsenal are going to finish in the top four in what looks like the tightest race for the European places to date.

Embed from Getty Images

Santi Cazorla

Cazorla has made just 11 appearances in all competitions this season due to a long-term injury. The Gunners have definitely missed his influence on games and other players have suffered from his work-rate being absent from the side. The Spaniard’s contract is up this summer and a new one has yet to be confirmed.

While we’re not suggesting Cazorla is definitely going to depart, he may decide to call it time at the end of his 5th year at the club in favour of a change up and a better chance of silverware. At 32 he has a lot to offer still and many clubs would be interested in his abilities.

Embed from Getty Images

Jack Wilshere 

When talking about Wilshere it’s already looking like a case of ‘what could have been’ – the Englishman has had absolutely no luck with injuries, but it’s worth mentioning his time at Bournemouth has seen him play on a more regular basis. The loan move to the South Coast was a bit of a strange transfer at the start of the season and although Wilshere hasn’t necessarily had the number of assists expected from him, he has looked happier playing week in, week out.

Whether Wilshere and Arsenal decide to part ways at the end of the season remains to be seen, but if he has any feeling that a return to club entails time spent on the touchline he may just fancy the chance at another Premier League club.

Embed from Getty Images

Could Arsenal afford to lose all three of these midfielders as well as Sanchez? Is it time to revamp the squad in a bid to win the Premier League again?

Advertisements

Premier League Preview and Prediction: Arsenal vs Aston Villa

Competition: Premier League – Arsenal vs. Aston Villa

Venue: Emirates Stadium – Sunday, May 15 – 15:00 BST (10:00 ET) 

Match Odds: Arsenal 1/7 – Draw 7/1 – Aston Villa 16/1

Match Preview

Arsenal welcome already relegated Aston Villa to Emirates Stadium for the final game of one of the most unpredictable Premier League season’s in history.

While unpredictable on the whole, there is something very predictable about how the Gunners’ season has panned out, as securing a top-four finish has once again become the priority in the last few weeks – an objective they have now achieved.

A battling 2-2 draw away at Manchester City last Sunday means Arsene Wenger’s side now only need one more point to secure third.

Embed from Getty Images

However, Arsenal will be desperate to potentially leapfrog their bitter rivals Tottenham on the last day and finish second, although that relies on their neighbours losing away at relegated Newcastle and the Gunners winning.

If Spurs draw, Arsenal would need a most unlikely 13-goal margin of victory over Villa in order to finish second, so the main aim will just be to win the game and put on a show for the fans in what has ultimately been a season of underachievement and disappointment for Wenger’s men.

Aston Villa probably wanted this season to end about six months ago – it has been nothing short of completely disastrous – and you can’t help but feel for the fans.

Last weekend’s goalless draw at home to Newcastle did end a run of 11 straight defeats and avoid a club record of most consecutive losses (12).

Embed from Getty Images

This will be the last time we see Villa participating in a Premier League game after 28 years in the top flight, as they look to prepare for life in the increasingly difficult Championship, and look to bounce straight back up.

The reverse fixture saw Arsenal win 2-0 at Villa Park back in December, while the last clash at the Emirates was a resounding 5-0 victory for the Gunners in February 2015.

Team News

Arsene Wenger may hand playing time to midfielders Tomas Rosicky, Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini who are retiring after this match – whether any of them start remains to be seen. Santi Cazorla could play for the first time since November following his recovery from a knee injury. Mesut Ozil has returned to training and could feauture after missing the Man City game with a hip injury, while Danny Welbeck is out for nine months after knee surgery. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Carl Jenkinson (both knee) remain long-term absentees, while Per Mertesacker is a doubt with a hamstring injury.

Embed from Getty Images

Aston Villa’s Aly Cissokho is available again following a ban, while Rudy Gestede could return from a groin injury. Alan Hutton (calf), Ciaran Clark (ankle), Kieran Richardson (calf), Jordan Veretout (pelvis), Gabriel Agbonlahor (fitness) and Libor Kozak (fitness) are all doubtful. Jordan Amavi is out with a knee injury and Jores Okore will not feature because of an internal issue at the club.

Key Points

Arsenal’s last five: D/W/D/W/D

Aston Villa’s last five: L/L/L/L/D

Key Stat: Aston Villa have failed to win any of their 17 away games in the Premier League this season since a 1-0 opening day victory at Bournemouth (D3, L14).

Key Player: Jack Wilshere – Arsenal will have been delighted to see Wilshere pull through 70 minutes of an intense game away at Man City unscathed. Keeping him fit could be crucial next season and hopefully we will see a glimpse of his undoubted natural ability on Sunday.

Embed from Getty Images

Score Prediction

Arsenal 2-0 Aston Villa – The Gunners should seal a comfortable victory on the final day against an Aston Villa side who will be turning their attentions to the prospect of Championship football next season.

REACTION: Gareth Southgate selects his England U21 squad but is it good enough?

Gareth Southgate has announced his 27-man preliminary England squad for the UEFA Under 21 European Championships this summer and there were some high profile names omitted from the squad.

Raheem Sterling, Ross Barkley, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Jack Wilshere are all absent from the squad, despite being available for selection. It will be interesting to see how many of them play for the senior team next month when they face Republic of Ireland and Slovenia, as Southgate will not have them available at this summer’s tournament.

Of the selected 27 players, they accumulate just 268 Premier League appearances this season, and average just 10 league appearances each, with 11 members of the squad playing outside the Premier League this season.

Player Parent Club Premier League appearances 2014-15
Marcus Bettinelli Fulham 0
Jonothan Bond Watford 0
Jack Butland Stoke City 3
Calum Chambers Arsenal 23
Eric Dier Tottenham 27
Luke Garbutt Everton 4
Ben Gibson Middlesborough 0
Carl Jenkinson Arsenal 31
Michael Keane Burnley 20
Liam Moore Leicester City 11
John Stones Everton 22
Matt Targett Southampton 6
Tom Carroll Tottenham 13
Nathaniel Chalobah Chelsea 0
Will Hughes Derby County 0
Jake Forster-Caskey Brighton and Hove Albion 0
Jesse Lingard Manchester United 1
Ruben Loftus-Cheek Chelsea 3
Alex Pritchard Tottenham 0
Nathan Redmond Norwich City 0
James Ward-Prowse Southampton 24
Benik Afobe Wolves 0
Patrick Bamford Chelsea 0
Saido Berahino West Brom 37
Harry Kane Tottenham 33
Danny Ings Burnley 34
Cauley Woodrow Fulham 0

In all honesty it is a weaker squad than anticipated, especially when you consider the midfielders selected have only made 41 league appearances between the nine of them, averaging under 5 appearances each. A shocking statistic for a squad that are deemed as favourites as Gareth Southgate has suggested.

When speaking about his selections, Southgate had this to say: “The group dynamic is important and we’ve taken the learnings on board and this group of players have opportunity to set the standard.

“We want to go and play in a certain style this summer and, yes, we want to win but it can’t be the sole focus. Development is key.”

But once again, should England fail to win the championship, questions will be asked about how strong the squad that was taken and should senior players have been selected?

However, Southgate has said: “We feel we should reward this group for what they’ve achieved up until now.

“We’ve worked closely with Roy (Hodgson) about what’s right thing for each player and the experience.” So if the worst was to happen and England crash out of the tournament again, like they did in Israel two years ago, Hodgson will be as much to blame as anyone.

The big debate is that if players are fit and available to be selected for the Under 21s then they probably should be.

Do you think the current England Under 21 squad is strong enough to win the European Championships, or should a stronger team have been selected?

Manchester City lining up £30m move for Arsenal star – report

Manchester City are lining up a £30 million summer move for Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere, according to the Daily Mirror, despite the fact Arsene Wenger has issued a ‘hands-off’ plea.

The Arsenal boss revealed that he was not interested in Manchester City’s interest in Wilshere last month, claiming the Gunners did not have to sell their best players, but the Citizens have not listened and are looking to press ahead in their advances for the England international.

City are expected for a major summer shake up following a poor season, and Wilshere is believed to be near the very top of their transfer list.

Embed from Getty Images

Jordan Henderson was also a target but he has ended speculation of a move away from Liverpool by signing a new contract last week.

That means the reigning Premier League champions are willing to offer Arsenal £30 million in an attempt to land Wilshere.

The Gunners have sold top talents such as Emmanuel Adebayor, Kolo Toure, Samir Nasri, Gael Clichy and Bacary Sagna all to City in recent years, acquiring around £70 million in those deals but Wenger is not keen on taking that total to £100 million.

Embed from Getty Images

Wilshere has just returned to the squad following his latest injury setback, but his place in the team is no longer guaranteed, especially given Francis Coquelin’s rise to prominence this year, and a move away could be on the cards.

Arsenal are keen to discuss a new contract with the 23-year-old midfielder, despite the fact he has three years left on his current deal, and the club appear desperate to retain the services of their academy product.

Arsenal to let Wilshere go to fund £27m move for Premier League star – report

Arsenal are willing to let England international Jack Wilshere leave the club this summer to fund a move for Southampton midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin, according to the Daily Mail.

Wilshere has struggled with injuries again this season, making just nine Premier League appearances, and could be on his way out of the Emirates with Manchester City keen on a move.

City want to revamp their ageing midfield this summer and have lined up Wilshere as an ideal acquisition, along with Ross Barkley and Jordan Henderson.

Embed from Getty Images

The 23-year-old midfielder joined the Arsenal academy in 2001 and has been at the club for 14 years, but would struggle to force his way back into the current team, and so a big-money move could come at the right time for the Gunners.

The sale of Wilshere would free up a move for Southampton star Morgan Schneiderlin, who is looking likely to depart this summer if the Saints fail to qualify for the Champions League.

Schneiderlin was a target of both Arsenal and Spurs last year, and although the Saints were able to hold on to the defensive midfield enforcer for the season, a bid in excess of £27 million could be enough to sign the French international this time around.

Embed from Getty Images

Arsene Wenger has long needed a solid holding midfielder to strengthen the Arsenal team and Schneiderlin could be the ideal candidate, especially given his Premier League experience.

The 25 year old has made 24 league appearances this campaign, scoring three goals with one assist and could be replacing Wilshere in the Gunners’ side next season.

Would Morgan Schneiderlin be a good replacement for Jack Wilshere at Arsenal?

City to raid Arsenal and Liverpool in £35m double swoop

Manchester City are interested in signing Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere and Liverpool’s Jordan Henderson, according to the Daily Mail, as they look to add a more English feel to their starting lineup from next season.

With Frank Lampard on his way to New York City FC and James Milner’s contract set to expire, City are chasing English replacements.

Wilshere could struggle to force his way back into the Arsenal set-up as Wenger’s current system is working well and his injury-hit career could see the Gunners cash in on 23-year-old midfielder.

Henderson has attracted interest from top Premier League clubs, Chelsea and City, and has only one year left on his Liverpool contract so a move away this summer could be real possibility, especially if the Reds fail to qualify for the Champions League.

Embed from Getty Images

With the pair rated around £42 million combined – Wilshere £22m and Henderson £20m, according to transfermarkt.co.uk, they could be achievable signings for City.

The Manchester club has delved into Arsenal’s squad on many occasions, spending around £80m on Emmanuel Adebayor, Gael Clichy, Samir Nasri, Kolo Toure and Bacary Sagna in the past and clearly appeal to the Gunners’ stars as they appear to pay comparatively higher wages than the North London club.

This would be a more favourable financial move than rumoured signing of top European target, Paul Pogba. The Juventus star is attracting interest from Chelsea, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Manchester United to name a few but will cost more than Wilshere and Henderson combined.

Should Manchester City sign Jack Wilshere and Jordan Henderson this summer? Are they the players they need?

Former Manchester United man to help City seal Real Madrid star – report

Manchester City are preparing a £25 million move for Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric, according to the Daily Star, and former Manchester United man Paul Pogba looks like he is the key to any deal.

Real Madrid are likely to go on another summer spending spree at the end of the season and Juventus star Paul Pogba is at the top of their shopping list.

Sami Khedira’s contract with Madrid is up at the end of the season but Modric would also likely move on if Pogba were to join Los Blancos.

Embed from Getty Images

Manchester City are watching the situation closely as they are keen to secure the services of the former Spurs playmaker, who has only made 12 league appearances for Madrid this season as he struggled with a thigh injury for much of the season.

Modric returned to the side earlier this month but City would be willing to offer £25 million for the Croatian star – £5 million less than Madrid paid Spurs in the summer of 2012.

Manchester United and Chelsea are also linked with Modric but the Daily Star report claims City sporting director Txiki Begiristain wants Modric to form a midfield partnership with Arsenal‘s Jack Wilshere next season.

Embed from Getty Images

City are reportedly willing to give Manuel Pellegrini £200 million to spend this summer as the squad is likely to be revamped after what looks set to be a disappointing season without a trophy, with Chelsea looking increasingly likely to win the Premier League.

Stevan Jovetic, Edin Dzeko, Aleksandar Kolarov, Samir Nasri, Yaya Toure and James Milner could all leave the Etihad this summer and so new signings can be expected.

Would Luka Modric be a good signing for Manchester City? 

Stats: How important is Mesut Ozil to Arsenal?

Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil is coming towards the end of his second season with the club now, yet many are still unconvinced with his performances and believe that perhaps he hasn’t lived up to his £42.5m price tag.

The German international helped the Gunners to their first trophy for nine years last season as they went on to lift the FA Cup and they’re currently third in the Premier League this time around, as well as having booked their place in the semi-final of the FA Cup once again.

Ozil has been hampered by injury throughout this campaign, which has meant the Gunners have played a large amount of fixtures without the services of a man who played in every game at Germany’s 2014 World Cup triumph.

Embed from Getty Images

Arsenal have played 14 Premier League games with Ozil in the side (W8, D4, L2) at a ratio of two points-gained-per-game, compared to 16 league games without him (W10, D2, L4) and they amount to exactly the same amount of points-gained-per-game – two.

So in that regard, Arsene Wenger‘s side are neither better off nor worse off when Ozil plays, but how does he compare statistically to the other attack-minded midfield players in the Arsenal team? Here is an average-per-game breakdown of numbers:

Arsenal midfielders in the 2014/15 Premier League (stats via Squawka)

Arsenal midfielders performance per-game in the 2014/15 Premier League (stats via Squawka)

The numbers show that Ozil has the most number of assists, chances created and key passes per-game out of any player, while only Santi Cazorla has a better pass completion rate with 88% compared to Ozil’s 87% – a miniscule difference.

Alexis Sanchez plays in a slightly more advanced role and has been prolific this season so he tops the goals-per-game charts. Only Santi Cazorla has scored more goals-per-game than Ozil.

At the beginning of March, it was also revealed that Mesut Ozil had covered more ground than any other Arsenal player since returning to the side in January, according to the telegraph.

Embed from Getty Images

The criticism aimed at the 26-year-old often comes from his relaxed style of play, combined with the way he moves across the pitch and he certainly creates a divide in opinion.

It’s likely that some may never agree on what to make of Ozil and his hefty transfer fee is probably one of the main reasons that some aren’t entirely happy.

Premier League Preview and Prediction: Arsenal vs Everton

Competition: Premier League – Arsenal vs Everton

Venue: Emirates Stadium – Sunday, March 1st – 14:05 (09:05 ET)

Match Odds: Arsenal 8/15 – Draw 3/1 – Everton 5/1

Match Preview

Arsenal host Everton at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday afternoon looking to continue their good run of form in the Premier League which has propelled them into third.

Everton haven’t won in three in the league but tasted European victory with a 3-1 win against BSC Young Boys on Thursday in the Europa League and will be looking to extend their unbeaten run against Arsenal to six games in the league. The two clubs drew 2-2 in the reverse fixture at Goodison Park in August.

Embed from Getty Images

Arsenal come into the game off the back of a disappointing 3-1 loss to AS Monaco in the Champions League on Wednesday at the Emirates. Outplayed by the French side, Arsenal will want to forget about it and secure the three points on Sunday in front of their own fans.

With eight wins in ten in all competitions, Arsenal are still in a good run of form and are on course for yet another top four finish despite the fierce competition for Champions League football at the top of the Premier League.

Arsenal’s Premier League home record: Played 12 – Won 8 – Drawn 3 – Lost 1

Interestingly, Arsenal have scored first in their last six Premier League games, and they could do with a fast start against the Toffees to settle any nerves.

Everton cannot be underestimated this weekend though as they could bring their European form to the Premier League and cause an upset on Sunday.

Embed from Getty Images

Everton will be buoyant after their two-legged demolition of Young Boys as they won 7-2 on aggregate and Roberto Martinez’s men will want to snatch all three points come the weekend.

Everton’s Premier League away record: Played 13 – Won 3 – Drawn 3 – Lost 7

It has been a poor season for Everton compared to last, and the league table proves that as they sit in twelfth after 26 games and are just six points off the relegation zone.

Their Premier League form dictates the reason for this as they have only registered one win in their last ten matches.

Team News

Arsenal – Mathieu Debuchy (shoulder) and Mikel Arteta (ankle) are still not match fit and Jack Wilshere has undergone surgery for ankle discomfort. Aaron Ramsey could return to the side as he nears a return from a hamstring injury while Arsene Wenger could drop David Ospina, Per Mertesacker and Olivier Giroud after poor performances against Monaco on Wednesday.

Embed from Getty Images

Everton – Aiden McGeady is still sidelined with a knee injury while Steven Pienaar (Knee), Leon Osman (foot) and Bryan Oviedo (hamstring) will also miss out. Gareth Barry returns from suspension and is likely to start along with Leighton Baines who was rested for the midweek game against Young Boys.

Key Points

Arsenal’s last five in the Premier League: WWLWW

Everton’s last five in the Premier League: DWDLD

Key Stat: Arsenal are unbeaten in their last 20 meetings at home to Everton in all competitions. Their last home defeat to the Toffees came 19 years ago.

Embed from Getty Images

Key Player: Alexis Sanchez – Summer transfer sensation, Sanchez has been a revelation for Arsenal this season and at times has got them out of massive holes on his own. Expect him to be the difference once again.

Score Prediction

Arsenal 2-1 Everton – No shocks in this one, Everton will put up a good fight but expect Arsenal to get back to winning ways with their seventh straight league win at the Emirates.

Will we see the ‘Best England’ at the Under-21 European Championships?

The England Under-21s will be heading to the European Championships in the Czech Republic this summer but how strong will their squad be? Jamie Ives weighs up what sort of team we should see in June.

If Roy Hodgson is to be believed, it will be as strong as head coach, Gareth Southgate wants it to be. And with FA Chairman Greg Dyke’s ‘England DNA project’ well under way, there is added pressure to perform this summer.

The England Manager said in November that: “My policy is this: After Gareth Southgate has picked his squad, I will pick my squad”. This is a clear indication that should he wish, Southgate will be able to take senior players such as Jack Wilshere and Raheem Sterling to the Euros as they are eligible to play for the Under-21 squad.

Any player born on or after 1 January 1992 can play for the Under-21s in Czech Republic so players up to the age of 23 could feature for Southgate’s side.

Embed from Getty Images

When speaking to the Mirror in December, Southgate went on record stating that: “If players haven’t been with us for the qualification campaign and are only being parachuted in five days before, well what about the work we have been doing?” And he has a point.

The current Under-21 teams consists of many players that will fall short of the ‘ideal team’ if everyone that is eligible travels to the competition. Though surely they have earned their place in the team by getting the team through qualifying without losing a match (W9 D1 L0)?

There will be a strong cases made that England should take the likes of Jack Wilshere, Raheem Sterling and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to the championships if they are to have the best chance of winning. But in recent years, the players with senior caps tend to stay in the senior camp.

Embed from Getty Images

Other European nations take their best players to any youth competition as it gives younger players the opportunity to experience the tough demands of tournament football before playing in a World Cup or European Championship.

Though that has not been a system used in England, so who will be on the plane to the Czech Republic in June?

For England to be successful at senior level it is pivotal that the younger players are allowed to develop, not only to gain experience at international level, but also to pick up that vital experience of playing in a major tournament. Especially if they have a squad with a much talent to choose from as the current crop.

In order for England to develop as a football nation, Southgate has to take the best available squad and he must be given time to work with them. A strong Under-21 side with a common agenda and understanding of what needs to be done will be overwhelming favorites to win this summer.

Embed from Getty Images

Winning the Under-21 European Championship for the first time in 31 years would be a huge boost for the nation and could propel the senior team to further success in years to come. Much like the Germany Under-21s did in 2009 as their senior team then won the 2014 FIFA World Cup five years later.

This is arguably the best possible England Under-21 starting XI that Gareth Southgate could choose:

Goalkeeper: Jack Butland (Stoke City)

Defenders: Calum Chambers (Arsenal), John Stones (Everton), Phil Jones (Manchester United), Luke Shaw (Manchester United).

Midfielders: Jack Wilshere (Arsenal), Tom Carroll (Tottenham – on loan at Swansea City), Raheem Sterling (Liverpool), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal), Ross Barkley (Everton).

Striker: Harry Kane (Tottenham).

Is this England's best possible starting XI for the Under-21 European Championship? (Via Lineupbuilder.com)

Is this England’s best possible starting XI for the Under-21 European Championship? (Via Lineupbuilder.com) 

Who do you think deserves to start for the England Under-21s at this summer’s tournament?