Off the Mark: Arsene Wenger’s new Arsenal contract should include a statue clause

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If you’ve been to the Emirates Stadium recently you’ll have noticed something fairly new about the place, and it’s not that the Arsenal fans are smiling.

In late 2011, Arsenal unveiled statues of three club legends around the ground; managerial icon Herbert Chapman, defensive hero Tony Adams and goalscoring God Thierry Henry.

The trio so obviously deserved their places both in bronze and in Gunners folklore, but the way things are going they could be joined by another statuesque figure soon.

Arsene Wenger has long since become a part of the Arsenal furniture, presiding over the team since September 1996, from Highbury to the Emirates, from three Premier League titles to four FA Cups.

Of course much is made of the fact that the last of those successes came way back in 2005 – when Henry was his centre-forward and not just a statue outside the ground – but as Wenger reportedly stands on the brink of agreeing a new contract that will take him into a third decade at the Gunners, he might just also be on precipice of his greatest ever success at the club.

It was only last August when some people wanted him out.

Fan dissatisfaction over a perceived lack of investment and a failure of the Gunners to keep up with the big-spending teams at the top of English football all boiled over when Arsenal lost 3-1 at home to Aston Villa on the opening day of the season.

Suddenly Wenger could see everything that he had worked so hard to achieve starting to crumble around him, with fans openly questioning where he was taking the club and bookmakers slashing the odds on him to leave seemingly by the hour.

He always stood by the courage of his convictions though, and crucially so did his club.

It is that bravery and belief that has brought Arsenal here, to the top of the Premier League and holding a terrific chance of winning the title, despite the ominous clicks into gear that we’ve seen from Manchester City and Chelsea recently.

This turnaround wasn’t completely down to the purchase of Mesut Ozil obviously, but in bringing in the German last summer Wenger was bringing in a new level of belief too. This was the kind of signing that City and Chelsea routinely make, and yet here were Arsenal making it.

Ozil hasn’t always sparkled during his first season in English football, but his team almost always have.

That is down to Wenger instilling a belief and confidence in his players, who are perhaps more inclined to take that on board when they look across the dressing room and see a £42.5million German international on their side.

Aaron Ramsey, Santi Cazorla, Per Mertesacker, Olivier Giroud, Mathieu Flamini, Laurent Koscielny. All have had good, some great seasons, whilst most of their teammates have chipped in along the way too.

That is down to Wenger, and the way he has set up his team during a season which many thought would be his last at the outset.

That new contract means that he’ll still be around for a while yet though, and if Arsenal were to win the league this season then maybe Chapman, Adams and Henry will deserve some company outside the Emirates?

***

Oscar winning performances show why Mata didn’t matter

One of the good things about Juan Mata’s move to Manchester United is that it means we’ll get to see even more of Chelsea’s Oscar play.

The little Brazilian is a fantastic talent and – crucially for Jose Mourinho – is prepared to do as much work going backwards as he is going forwards.

His stunning free-kick in the FA Cup win over Stoke was yet another example of his sublime talent, and still just 22 he appears to have the world at his talented feet.

With the World Cup coming up in his home country the summer, the stage is set for him to shine.

***

Happy Hammers can nail Swansea

West Ham have brought in a couple of interesting new signings lately, and whilst the away trip to Chelsea was always going to be a tough ask for them, they could click in time to beat Swansea at home on Saturday afternoon.

Back West Ham to beat Swansea at 17/10 at BetMcClean.com

@Mark_Jones86

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Posted on January 29, 2014, in Off the Mark and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Denise Ong (@deniseong467)

    Well Juan Mata is a great player and has been an asset to Chelsea..

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