Arsene Wenger to be offered new contract as Arsenal bid to fend off FA interest in England manager future
Arsenal are ready to bring forward contract negotiations with Arsene Wenger in a bid to convince the manager to remain at the club beyond the end of the season and not depart in order to replace Sam Allardyce as England manager.
Wenger admitted he was “flattered” to be linked with the job once again after he was asked about the prospect of replacing Allardyce following Arsenal’s 2-0 Champions League victory over Basel, where Theo Walcott continued his rich vein of form by scoring both goals in the first-half.
With the Football Association again on the look-out for a new manager after Allardyce resigned following the undercover sting by The Telegraph that captured him negotiating lucrative speaking opportunities in the Far East and advising reporters purporting to be investors how to get around FA third-party ownership regulations, Wenger’s name has quickly emerged among the candidates.
It’s expected that the FA will contact both Arsenal and Wenger over the possibility of taking up the role at the end of the season, when Wenger’s current contract expires with the Gunners, and it would mean that Gareth Southgate would have to stand in for the next four matches in England’s 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign. The England Under-21 manager has already been confirmed to be taking charge of the national side for next month’s matches with Malta and Slovenia.
But while Wenger has seemingly left the door open to joining the England set-up, there is a belief that the Frenchman may be teasing a switch in order to secure himself a new deal at the Emirates. Wenger celebrates his 20th anniversary since joining Arsenal on Friday, although he has shown no signs of wanting to leave and looks to be enjoying himself this season with Arsenal making a strong start to the campaign on all fronts.
Arsenal vs Basel player ratings
David Ospina – 6 out of 10
After a quiet first half, he was dependable when called upon in the second period to keep his clean sheet intact. Punched clear from a dangerous corner, and tipped a Birkir Bjarnason effort over the crossbar.
Hector Bellerin – 7 out of 10
Displayed his pace once again to work a chance down the right, though his finishing let him down. Supported Walcott well and was always able to work back and defend on the rare occasion Basel attacked.
Shkodran Mustafi – 7 out of 10
Has gelled well with Koscielny and will keep Per Mertesacker out of the side with this form. Very vocal in defence and breathes calm among his colleagues.
Laurent Koscielny – 8 out of 10
Stood up tall and timed his tackle to perfection to defuse Basel’s only break of note in the first half when Doumbia broke free. Another crucial intervention robbed the ball off the feet of Bjarnason when he was taking aim at goal, and it was another standout performance from the skipper.
Nacho Monreal – 7 out of 10
Looked assured on the ball and played a delightful chip over the defence for Sanchez to have a chance at goal. Comfortable in defence, though rarely tested.
Santi Cazorla – 9 out of 10
Ran the game in the first half. So often he plays in Özil’s shadow despite doing the hard work, but here he took centre stage. Could have assisted two further goals had Sanchez brought his shooting boots. Drifted in and out of the midfield in the second half, though was less effective as Arsenal settled.
Granit Xhaka – 7 out of 10
Did the simple work, controlling the pace of the game and sitting back to allow Cazorla to roam. One excellent ball played in Özil on the right that should have been converted.
Theo Walcott – 8 out of 10
Where this Walcott has been the past decade, nobody knows. Continued his excellent form to notch his fourth and fifth goals of the season, heading in Sanchez’s enticing cross early on before playing a delightful one-two with the Chilean and calmly slotting the ball past Tomas Vaclik to double the lead. Chance to clinch his hat-trick well saved by Vaclik before departing for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain 20 minutes from time.
Mesut Özil – 8 out of 10
Continued to link the play between the midfield and Arsenal’s flying duo of Sanchez and Walcott nonchalantly. Had two chances to score, with Vaclik saving well from the first before he chipped the second wide. Another impressive display nonetheless.
Alex Iwobi – 7 out of 10
The Arsenal fans have really warmed to the academy product, and he continues to develop game by game. Good chance came his way when he ran from his own half before shooting wide from the edge of the area. Replaced by Mohamed after 70 minutes.
Alexis Sanchez – 9 out of 10
How he didn’t find the net, only he will know. The Chilean was a constant threat and always looked to run off Özil and link up with Walcott – which he did twice to lay on both the Englishman’s goals. Should have converted a pull-back from Walcott, and saw his late effort blocked by Vaclik.
According to The Mirror, Arsenal are determined not to let Wenger go and are ready to offer him a new two-year deal, with his current wages of £8m-a-year likely to be retained. The club were not expected to open formal talks with Wenger until much later in the year, but Allardyce’s hasty exit and the FA’s subsequent interest in landing one of their long-term targets is likely to force the north London club into making their move much earlier than expected.
The interest from the FA is also likely to give Wenger more bargaining power, and he has insisted in the past that he is willing to continue as Arsenal manager as long as he can still bring success to the club.