Bacary Sagna and Per Mertesacker look set to be rewarded for their good form for Arsenal with Arsene Wenger preparing to hand both defenders a new contract extension within the next month.
Since the opening day 3-1 defeat to Aston Villa, Arsenal have conceded just one goal in four games – the 3-1 victory over Fulham – and have kept clean sheets over north London rivals Tottenham and Fenerbahce twice.
And having finally invested in the squad with the £42.5m acquisition of attacking midfielder Mesut Ozil following the free signings of Yaya Sanogo and Mathieu Flamini, Wenger is keen on keeping the core of his squad together with the view of adding a world class striker next year.
Sagna’s contract expires at the end of the year and the French right-back is free to negotiate a move away from the Emirates in January, with initial talks over a new contract earlier this year proving unsuccessful.
Mertesacker joined the Gunners in 2011, signing a four-year deal, but in the absence of club captain Thomas Vermaelen, the German has gone on to form one of the best central defences statistically with Laurent Koscielny.
30-year-old Sagna is two years older than Mertesacker and has been with the club since joining in 2007 from French side Auxerre, and with Wenger’s policy to offer just a one-year contract to those who have passed the triple-decade mark, his future remains unclear.
Robert Pires famously left the club after he was refused a two-year contract once he surpassed the 30 mark, but there is optimism among the club that Sagna will commit his future to the north London side.
His recent versatility has seen him cover centrally when needed which has also aided English youngster Carl Jenkinson’s development at the club, and it was for this reason that Wenger chose not to sign a new central defender despite being linked with a move for Swansea’s Ashley Williams.
Questions have also arisen over Wojciech Szczesny’s suitability after a number of errors creeped into his game last season, but his good start to the new campaign has reassured Wenger to stick with the Polish number one for the time being, although he did bring in Italian international Emiliano Viviano on deadline day as provide competition for both Szczesny and Lucas Fabianski.
Because of this, the French manager decided to reinforce – and it was some reinforcement – his midfield with the signing of Ozil, although he remains in the market for a world class striker and a proven defensive midfielder.
Interest remains in both Luis Suarez and Wayne Rooney after moves for both of the strikers failed to materialise, with the Uruguayan the subject of a £40m plus £1 bid from the Gunners. Rooney was heavily linked with a switch to Chelsea, but they decided to hold off their interest and sign Cameroonian forward Samuel Eto’o on a short-term deal.
One other current Gunner whose contract situation will be addressed soon is midfielder Tomas Rosicky. The Czech Republic captain suffered a horrendous string of injuries early in his Arsenal career, but he returned to but in a number of strong performances towards the back end of both the 2011-12 and 2012-13 campaigns.
Rosicky has also begun this season well, and the injuries to both Lukas Podolski and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain could see him switch to the left wing role, although Ozil’s arrival is likely to move Santi Cazorla to the flank.
It could afford Wenger the luxury of rotating his central midfielders, with Aaron Ramsey and the injury prone Jack Wilshere currently first choice and Flamini providing cover. Having four options at full fitness has been a rare sight at the Emirates in recent years, with Abou Diaby remaining on the sidelines after suffering a long-term knee injury and Mikel Arteta set to return to action in the next few weeks.Reuse content