Saturday, 21 July 2018

Ramsey's new deal, the captaincy & the Ozil situation - The Arsenal issues facing Unai Emery

With Arsenal's opening game of the 2018/19 season starting to loom large, the club's pre-season preparations are about to step up a notch.
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The Gunners fly out to Singapore on Sunday and will spend the next week in southeast Asia, taking on both Atletico Madrid and Paris Saint Germain in two International Champions Cup fixtures.
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They will then return to Europe for games against Chelsea in Dublin and Lazio in Stockholm before the Manchester City clash rolls around at the Emirates on Sunday, August 12.
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So new head coach Unai Emery will be keen to see his squad really kick-on in the coming weeks, having opened up their pre-season campaign with an 8-0 win at Boreham Wood last weekend.
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Emery has been busy in the transfer market so far, bringing in five new additions - with Stephan Lichtsteiner, Bernd Leno, Sokratis, Lucas Torreira and Matteo Guendouzi all coming in.
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But there could be more work to do for
Arsenal before the window closes, while there are also several other issues that need sorting before the Premier League opener against City.
We take a look at some of the issues that Emery still needs to solve.
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The Mesut Ozil situation
Arsenal's star playmaker returns this weekend and will jet out with the squad to Singapore to get his pre-season underway.
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Ozil has had a miserable few months, with a poor end to last season followed by Germany's awful showing at the World Cup - something he bore the brunt of the criticism for.
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The 29-year-old has been used to be given license to almost do what he wants at Arsenal under Arsene Wenger, something that is going to change under Emery - who has already stated he wants to work with Ozil in a new way.
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The pair have yet to meet and when they do Emery will no doubt sit the former Real Madrid man down and discuss exactly what he wants from him this season.
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But the first thing he will need to do is try to pick Ozil up from what has been a very difficult summer. Mentally, he will not be in the best of places and coming back to a club that is very different to the one he left behind in May will not help the situation.
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So Emery and his coaching staff must work hard on Ozil over the coming weeks to get him in the best mindset possible to be ready to have a major influence on the new season.
Make sure the summer transfer business gives him the best squad possible
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Following the capture of Lucas Torreira from Sampdoria, Arsenal are not expected to do any more major pieces of transfer business in terms of bringing anyone in - unless they raise extra funds by selling players.
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But with doubts continuing over Shkodran Mustafi’s long-term future following the arrival of Sokratis and the likes of Lucas Perez, Carl Jenkinson, Danny Welbeck, David Ospina and Chuba Akpom also potentially on the way out, that is not out of the equation.
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Unai Emery will have been well aware of the budget he and Sven Mislintat had to play with when he arrived and it’s clear that the club have acted swiftly in the market to strengthen priority areas in the squad.
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But there are still positions where Arsenal appear light - especially in attack where the squad appears to be lacking any natural width, especially when you consider Emery prefers a 4-2-3-1 formation.
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So Arsenal’s new head coach needs to decide whether he is happy with the business that has been done so far, or whether there is more needed in the coming weeks.
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Solve the Aaron Ramsey contract issue
Arsenal have been fairly decisive in their contract negotiations this summer, with Rob Holding, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Granit Xhaka and Calum Chambers all agreeing new deals.
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But they have yet to agree terms with Aaron Ramsey - and the club are determined to get things resolved one way or the other.
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Emery is a big fan of Ramsey and wants him to stay, with a new five-year deal on the table for the Wales international.
But Arsenal’s head coach is aware that the midfielder will be sold if he does’t sign the deal - so a swift resolution to the negotiations are at the top of the agenda.
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Ramsey’s agent has been away recently but has returned to the UK - with talks continuing between him and the club. Emery will be keen to see them reach as positive conclusion as soon as possible.
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Decide on the captaincy
Again, just like any further transfer business Arsenal may do, the captaincy issue could be linked directly with the Ramsey contract situation.
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Should the midfielder commit his future to the club, it would be no surprise to see him take on the armband, which has currently been vacated following Per Mertesacker’s retirement.
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Ramsey is a leading candidate and wore the armband in the second half against Boreham Wood, but there are others such as Laurent Koscielny - despite his injury, Granit Xhaka or even new signings Stephan Lichtsteiner and Sokratis.
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Emery will be well aware that the fans will be waiting to see who gets the armband, so he will want to make a decision quickly to take away any uncertainty.
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Become totally accustomed to his squad
There are always key players in each managers’s squad, Jose Mourinho has his ‘untouchables’ for example.
So it will be interesting to see who Arsenal’s new head coach decides are his go to men going forward.
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Grant Xhaka has immediately been handed a new contact, which suggests he will be a big part of the Spaniard’s plans, while Aaron Ramsey (providing he stays) is another who will be a vital ingredient in the 2018/19 campaign.
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Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang are believed to be admired by Emery and Lucas Torreira has clearly been brought in to give Arsenal some real steel in front of the defence.
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Whether there are any of players who will guaranteed starters remain to be seen, what happens over the next month in pre-season could tell us a lot.

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