Friday, June 9, 2023

Why It’s Imperative For Arsenal To Extend These Two Veterans’ Stay At The Club

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Prasoon Sur
Prasoon is a law student who lives in the North East of India. Wildly innovative, football is more than a passion for him.

In the last one and half decade, Arsenal fans have seen the highs as well as the troughs. They have seen their side being crowned as the ‘Invincible’ league champions, and then they have been mocked by the fourth-place jokes (courtesy to Arsenal’s obsession with fourth place finishes). However, after the financial shackles have started to wither away, Arsène Wenger’s side have started to make notable progress.

One might not shudder to contemplate that Arsenal are no longer a feeder club, and it dates back to the blockbuster signing of Mesut Özil from Real Madrid in the summer of 2013. Since then, things have been pretty much stable and healthy for the Gunners.

This week, amidst the intricacy of the contract extension of Alexis Sánchez and Mesut Özil, the French trio comprising of Laurent Koscielny, Francis Coquelin and Olivier Giroud penned new long-terms deals which will keep them at the Emirates Stadium. However, there are two other silent guardians whose contracts expire in six months- Per Mertesacker and Santi Cazorla. Well, should new deals find a way to the tables of these two veterans?

Per Mertesacker had been one of the most important units to steady the ship alongside Koscielny at the central defence. The 32-year-old German World Cup winner has not played this season due to the knee injury he suffered in pre-season, which led to Koscielny pairing up with summer recruit Shkodran Mustafi. Further, it has to be noted that he will find himself very deep in the pecking order, behind the likes of Gabriel Paulista and Rob Holding who are also available as back-ups.

It must not be forgotten that Mertesacker possesses excellent leadership skills, infuses the winning mentality into the side, can still fight for the starting berth and considering the hectic schedule Arsenal find themselves in every season, Mertesacker’s understanding of the game can help the North London outfit in a befitting manner. His contributions to the club since he was signed after the 8-2 thrashing at the hands of Manchester United has been commendable and the Gunners should hand a one-year deal at least, not out of veneration but considering that they need bodies to cater to their needs.

The case of Santi Cazorla, however, is a much serious one. The Spaniard’s influence in the game from the central midfield holds paramount importance. Wenger’s side have relied incessantly on the little magician since he joined Arsenal from Málaga and despite being 31, he is still a wanted commodity at the club and his absence owing to an injury is taking a toll on Arsenal.

From a deeper position, Cazorla dictates the tempo of the game, chalks his way into the final third, does the dirty work in getting the ball back, creates ample amount of chances and has a healthy pass accuracy which makes him an irreplaceable midfield in Arsenal’s jam-packed midfield set.

Arsenal’s no. 19 can partner pretty easily with any other Arsenal midfielder, owing to his unparalleled understanding which has given so much of success to his side. His creativity, when coupled with Özil’s, blossoms a venomous tandem which tears even the most resolute of defences apart. Frankly speaking, Cazorla is way ahead of what was Arsenal’s former midfield veteran, Mikel Arteta and deserves to be given a new contract to keep him at the Emirates Stadium for a couple of years at least.

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