Arsenal: Champions League draw; Oxlade-Chamberlain contract frustration; Dutch youngster linked
It was the Champions League draw on Monday morning and there was an inevitability about Arsenal’s fate. They have been drawn to face Bayern Munich, who they have played six times in their last four years. Arsenal have actually won two of the matches, but they have never come out on top over an aggregate score and that will need to change in 2017. The club will be disappointed as they finally finished top of the group and have been rewarded with one of the trickiest ties that they could have faced.
That said, Bayern Munich have been struggling under Carlo Ancelotti and don’t look to be as formidable as they have before. They finished second in their group, albeit behind last season’s finalists Atletico Madrid. In the Bundesliga, they are currently top, but only on goal difference ahead of the sensational RB Leipzig. There are reasons to be confident for Arsenal, chiefly their own marked improvement since the teams last met. They now have a strong defence and a much better attack with Alexis Sanchez leading the line. It will be a very tough tie for the Gunners, but there is no reason to write off their chances of qualifying.
The Mirror report that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is frustrated at Arsenal’s public claims that they have started contract negotiations with him, as that isn’t true. According to the report, no approach has been made and Arsene Wenger’s claims have upset the player. The player is believed to be getting frustrated at not being given a chance to secure a regular starting place. He has been substituted often and has also been rotated frequently, which has left Oxlade-Chamberlain annoyed at how he is being managed. At the age of 23, he now believes that he is ready to be a regular starter and the latest claims about contract talks won’t help his situation.
There was interest from big clubs during the summer as they were aware of his contract situation. That said, I would expect that he does extend his contract at Arsenal as it is a club that suits his style of play and he appears settled on the pitch. Arsene Wenger knows how to manage young players and he will be doing what is best for Oxlade-Chamberlain. It is a good thing that the player is frustrated as it shows he isn’t happy to be a squad player. His end product has improved immeasurably this season as he already has six goals and five assists in all competitions. He has a future at Arsenal and the club now need to sort out his contract extension.
One player that has been linked with a move to Arsenal is closing in on a January transfer is Riechedly Bazoer, although it isn’t known which club he is in talks with. Arsenal have been heavily linked, but reports in the Netherlands are suggesting he could be set to join Wolfsburg. This is a developing story for Arsenal fans to keep an eye on as they are in need of midfield reinforcements due to the injury to Santi Cazorla. However, it isn’t a transfer that I would expect to happen.
If they are the club in talks with Bazoer, he would add technical ability to their midfield options. He is a box-to-box midfielder, who has a good eye for a pass and an engine that allows him to get up and down the pitch. He also has a good long shot, which would provide Arsenal with another weapon. Although if Arsenal are to strengthen in January, I’d be surprised if Wenger brings in a youngster who is unproven in a big league.
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