In the Grove: Wenger’s Euro conundrum
10 August, 2017 — By Steve Barnett
ARSENE Wenger will be charting unfamiliar ground as he prepares for his first season in charge without Champions League football. Does he try and entertain the Europa League? Or play his kids and free up his senior stars for an all out title challenge?
Expecting a big season from: Alexandre Lacazette. He arrived at Arsenal boasting a fierce goalscoring pedigree, and a price tag to match. At over £50million, fans will demand that he quickly finds his shooting boots.
Shape up or ship out: Granit Xhaka. The Swiss midfielder has shown glimpses of his passing prowess. But it’s a make-or-break second season for the 24-year-old who must replace the red cards that he collects all too easily with more goals and more assists if he wants to stay in north London.
Dilemmas of the dug out: The boardroom. Arsenal’s troubles lie away from the pitch. Those in power must stop letting players run down their contracts, and get the likes of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Mesut Ozil tied down to new deals. Wenger should also start preparing for life without Sanchez now by bringing in Monaco’s Thomas Lemar whatever the cost.
A good season’s end: It’s an easy one, just ask Chelsea. Forget Europe and focus all their efforts on winning the Premier League. Wenger can use the Europa League to give some of the talented youngsters at the club some much-needed game time.