Since The Arsenal played out to a goalless draw against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge during mid-September, they have scored in their next 10 consecutive league games. In all, the Gunners scored 22 goals during those games, averaging 2.2 goals per match, yet
Arsenal find themselves outside of the top four and, more alarmingly, with a lot of unanswered questions that will need to be answered.
Losing Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil looks to be all but a certainty and that will leave the Gunners with a serious shortage of creativity up front. Whether the duo departs in January or next summer, they are the types of players that leave holes that can’t be filled easily.
Arsene Wenger has seen his side score 29 league goals this season, for which Sanchez and Ozil have been responsible for 13 of them, with 7 assists and 6 goals between them.
“Alexis Sánchez free kick 1” (CC BY 2.0) by Ronnie Macdonald
Arsenal’s current goal difference is 10 but, without the contribution of these two, it would be -3. Southampton, who currently sit in 11th, enjoy a goal difference of -3, which indicates where the Gunners may possibly be without the influence of these two highly talented playmakers.
With Sanchez and Ozil still at the club, the odds of them finishing in the top 4 remains realistic at 11/4 in the Premier League betting but that won’t remain like that if Arsenal’s creative spark disappears. With them stalling on signing new deals, one has to fear the worst, especially if both leave on a free transfer.
Replacing the likes of Sanchez and Ozil won’t be a cheap task and will carry with it severe financial burdens. Should they let their contracts run down, with Arsenal not getting a penny for either of them, then it seems unlikely they will bring in adequate replacements. Arsenal already had a £92m bid rejected for Thomas Lemar on deadline day and will have to come up with that sort of money again should they want similar successors.
The situation would be a great deal worse if it had not been for the form of Alexandre Lacazette. The Frenchman is the club’s leading goal scorer this season and has looked a class act when given the opportunity. He will score the goals when given the service and so will Giroud, who has 5 goals to his name this season. Losing those players just behind the two Frenchmen may impact both of their goal returns.
When Alex Iwobi came on in the 14th minute for Shkodran Mustafi during the loss against Manchester United, he proved what a star player he is maturing into. His energy, pace, and raw skill caused the United defence all sorts of problems. The young Nigerian international had 6 shots, 3 on target, created three opportunities, and didn’t give the ball away once during his time on the park.
“Arsenal Vs Burnley” (CC BY 2.0) by joshjdss
As good a prospect as the young Iwobi is, it still may take a couple of years for him to be turning in performances like that week in and week out. There’s no doubt that, when he does, he will go a long way to replacing either Sanchez or Ozil, which makes sound financial sense as he comes from the academy. Until then, the Gunners need to make sure they have a contingency in place to avoid misfiring in the league.