Arsenal: Back, sack and… erm, crack?

Date published: Monday 23rd May 2016 8:09

Manchester United and Liverpool have had their turn, now it’s time to see who Arsene Wenger should let go, and who he should hold onto tightly, kicking and screaming, while clinging on to their legs as they edge towards the exit.



Mesut Ozil – Offer him almost all of the money, sign a striker who can convert more than a fraction of the chances he creates with the rest. At this stage, Arsenal should have no shame in being the obsessive and insecure boyfriend who keeps hassling his partner by constantly asking if they are alright.

Petr Cech – Will be worth at least one point next season. Not quite the game-changer he was billed as, but undoubtedly one of the better keepers in the Premier League.

Laurent Koscielny – The only centre-half at Arsenal who is a) faster than a parked truck, b) not liable to start a fight with a parked truck, and c) actually recognised as a centre-half.

Nacho Monreal – One injury to the Spaniard, and Arsenal must play Kieran Gibbs at left back. And nobody wants that. Not even Kieran Gibbs.

Hector Bellerin – Arsenal should keep checking his phone and deleting messages from anyone named ‘Gerard’, ‘Xavier’, ‘Andres’ or ‘Lionel’. Then check Hector’s internet search history and confront him about it.

Jack Wilshere – Because Arsene Wenger is contractually obliged to provide injury updates during his press conferences. And because he is pretty bloody good.

Santi Cazorla – Oh, how Arsenal have missed you. How we have all missed you. Wrap him in cotton wool when he returns, and whisper sweet nothings in his ears

Alexis Sanchez – Had a more disappointing season than perhaps any other player, yet scored 17 goals and assisted a further 11 in 41 games. Just manage his game time a little more suitably.

Danny Welbeck – Picture the scene: March 2017, Arsenal are chasing the title, and have reached the latter stages of the Champions League, FA Cup and Capital One Cup. But they are running out of momentum. They need a hero. They need an inspiration. They need someone who, after nine months on the sidelines, will be like a new signing. They will need Dat Guy.

Alex Iwobi – After showing glimpses of his potential during the portion of Arsenal’s season in which expectations are annually lowered, the Nigerian has earned the opportunity to impress from the beginning of next campaign.

Mohamed Elneny  One of Arsenal’s more consistent performers since joining in January. Will not be a regular starter, but provides useful midfield cover.



David Ospina – If he wants first-team football, he will have to look elsewhere. If he wants to stay as reserve to Cech, he will have to try not to throw the ball into his own net when given the chance.

Kieran Gibbs – The defensive version of Theo Walcott: has been with Arsenal since his formative teenage years, but has failed to truly progress since then. It is time for the club to display a more ruthless attitude with regards to those who are simply not good enough.

Mikel Arteta  Goodnight, sweet prince.

Tomas Rosicky – Read above.

Mathieu Flamini – Too busy taking over the world to worry about a Premier League title challenge.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – Five years, 152 games, 15 goals and 22 assist later, we still do not know Oxlade-Chamberlain’s favoured position. Ninety Premier League games, seven goals and 11 assists later, we do know he is not of the required standard.

Theo Walcott – As we enter his 12th season as a professional footballer, confusion still reigns over his most effective role. He harbours genuine hopes of being the club’s first-choice striker, but such responsibility cannot be bestowed upon a 27-year-old with nine goals in 41 games this past season. That he is one of the few at the club who earns a six-figure weekly salary is mind-boggling.

Mathieu Debuchy – Not content with being offered just 512 minutes of competitive football before January, the defender left to join Bordeaux on loan to strengthen his chances of making the France squad for this summer’s Euros. Five months, 783 minutes later and a lack of an international call-up later, the man who turns 31 in July finds himself in a difficult situation.

Wojciech Szczesny – Hating Tottenham is not enough reason to keep him at the club. It has been a long 18 months since he was Arsenal’s first-choice keeper.

Joel Campbell – Staked his claim after finally being handed his first-team opportunity, but played just 18 minutes of the last ten Premier League fixtures of the season. If you do not have complete faith in him after five years at the Emirates Stadium, it is time to let go.



Per Mertesacker – In any other summer, the German would be a necessary sacrifice. In a summer in which Arsenal are losing a handful of their leaders and most experienced players, he must stay. But he can no longer be a regular starter.

Gabriel  Arsenal need significant upgrades in defence to partner Koscielny in the centre, but Gabriel provides adequate back-up. Adequately batsh*t mental back-up, but back-up nonetheless.

Olivier Giroud – Just because he is not of the required standard to start for a club with trophy-related ambition, does not mean he cannot be an effective alternative striker.

Aaron Ramsey – His stock has fallen dramatically, but he is still a useful member of the squad in a number of different positions.

Francis Coquelin – Which season was the anomaly: 2014/15 or 2015/16? As good as he was in the former, his performances in the latter resembled more the midfielder sent out on loan to Charlton. He deserves a chance to prove his worth.

Carl Jenkinson – Someone must provide the banter, and Jenkinson does so in a way only a 24-year-old man with an Arsenal-themed bedroom can.

Calum Chambers – It would be lovely to finally discover his best position this coming season, but he is still only 21.


Matt Stead

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