It has been all gloomy for Arsenal on the field since the start of the Premier League Project Restart. The Gunners have lost back to back games against heavyweights, Manchester City and lightweights Brighton, which has seen them slip further down on the league table. This has brought huge pressure on the players and coaching crew.
Against Brighton, it was the turn of Leno who sustained a knee injury after a shove from Brighton player. Who knows what the outcome would have been if he was not injured, chances are he prolly would have saved either or both goals of Brighton.
Injuries have also not been kind to Arsenal as they have already lost three players to varying degrees of injuries; Granit Xhaka, Pablo Marin and Bernd Leno. These injuries have gone a long way in affecting the style of play, performance and overall result of the team. Against City, the Gunners were putting up a resolute fight until both Xhaka and Marin were forced off due to injuries. The Gunners lost by 3 goals, 2 were from errors courtesy of Luiz who was not expected to play if only Marin was not injured.
Off the field, there has been a bit of dark cloud no thanks to the contractual quagmire surrounding some players. Some days ago, Arsenal announced contract extensions for four player; David Luiz, Cedric Soares, Pablo Marin and Daniel Ceballos. These extensions sent mixed feelings across the Gunners world. To many, Luiz is a spent force and should be allowed to go. Ceballos has been rather inconsistent, with rumours suggesting that he would rather be in Spain than England, his loan should not have been extended. Soares has not even kicked a ball for Arsenal, struggling with injuries,a permanent deal is rather a risk than a calculated investment. Pablo Marin, the last of the quartet also got a long term permanent deal and that sounded positive as he had impressed when given the chance. It is expected that he would form a formidable partnership with newbie, William Saliba while the duo of Mustafi and Holding would provide backup but with Chambers returning soon from injuries, Luiz signing a new deal and Sokratis still lurking around, the Gunners might be forced to cash in on at least 2-3 center-backs to raise cash to plug some other holes in the squad. The likely ones up for sale would be Mustafi, Chambers and Sokratis. Holding and Luiz could provide cover.
As far as the Gunners fraternity are concerned, the real deals have not been sorted yet. Two key members of the first team are yet to commit their future to the fortunes of the club. Top scorer and captain, Pierre Emeric Aubamenyang and rising youngster, Bukayo Saka, both have a year left on their current deals and to many, they hold the key to the club going forward.
Aubamenyang has scored half of the club’s goals this season and he would be very difficult to replace. With a year left on his contract, the Gunners are torn between selling him for cheap in the summer or risk losing him for free next summer should he refuse signing a new deal. Still smarthing from the Bossman transfer of Welsh star, Aaron Ramsey to Juventus last summer, the Gunners hierarchy would be keen to avoid a deja vu.
Bukayo Saka is one rising youngster who has owned the left wing space for much of this season, from left back to left wing. He reminds club faithfuls of Ashley Cole but would he rise to become an Arsenal great like his English compatriot, the journey starts with his signature on an extended contract paper.
For Aubamenyang, he is in a dilemma as he would soon be 31 and this being his last big contract, it is win or burst. He wants to win trophies and play on the biggest European stage, cashing home big money every week but can the Gunners assure him of all that?
As for Saka, he is a rising talent who needs to play more to keep rising. To this end, a move to a bigger club could be detrimental to his growth. At Arsenal, he is sure of regular football and continuous development.
To all Arsenal fans, nothing would delight them more than seeing these two juggernauts committing their immediate foreseeable future to the Gunners but time would tell whether it would be the ecstasy of seeing them stay or the pain of goodbye.