Arsenal round-up: Oxlade-Chamberlain latest; Europa League draw; Watford reignite Gibbs interest
Arsenal are set to admit defeat in their battle to keep Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and let him depart the club before the transfer deadline. The Mirror report that Arsene Wenger is ready to drop him from the first team on Sunday due to the ongoing uncertainty regarding his future. They don’t want to sell, but they have been backed into a corner. The club are now prepared to listen to offers and it is Chelsea that are in pole position.
This is the right decision by the club. They already have two other key players in the final year of their contract and it would be financial suicide if they let all three remain at the club without signing new deals. Oxlade-Chamberlain is the easiest one to replace as he doesn’t have a regular starting position in the first eleven. It will be a blow to lose him to a rival, but they have no other choice.
The Gunners learnt their Europa League fate as the groups were drawn on Friday. Arsenal will face BATE Borisov, Cologne and Red Star Belgrade. This will be the first time in 20 years that the club have started the season in Europe’s second-tier competition and the draw underlines the drop in quality from the Champions League. Arsene Wenger’s men will be the overwhelming favourites to win the group and this could be a competition that he decides to target as the season progresses.
The Europa League will initially be seen as a secondary competition and Wenger is likely to rotate a lot during the early rounds. The draw was kind on Friday and they should be able to progress even with weakened teams. It will offer a good opportunity to give minutes to the likes of Jack Wilshere, Alex Iwobi and Reiss Nelson, all of whom are not likely to feature prominently during in the Premier League.
Watford have re-entered the race to sign Kieran Gibbs with only days of the transfer window remaining. The Evening Standard report that talks are ongoing after Arsenal indicated they would lower their original £15 million asking price. This had put several interested clubs off including the Hornets, but they could now be ready to accept as little as £7 million.
Arsene Wenger knows that he needs to trim the squad and the lowering of the asking price shows that. Gibbs doesn’t have a part to play at the Emirates Stadium, which is why a move makes sense for all parties. He can get the regular football that he wants; Arsenal can get him off their books and Watford get a good Premier League left-back. There are no losers in this deal and it is one that should go through.
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