LONDON: Arsenal appear to be in free-fall. Sunday’s minor massacre at Liverpool is being followed by the likely departures of Alexis Sanchez and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, arguably the FA Cup holders’ two most outstanding players last season.
The four-goal beating at Anfield echoed many of the spiritless performances of last season which saw the Gunners miss out on Champions League presence for the first time in 17 years and exposed the failure of manager Arsene Wenger to come up with answers.
The margin of defeat would have been greater but for fine saves from Petr Cech.
Former players, media outlets and fans’ forums have been unanimous in berating American owner Stan Kroenke for a lack of interest, chief executive Ivan Gazidis for a failure of leadership and Wenger for failing to see the signs and retire on a high last May.
Chile forward Sanchez, England midfielder Oxlade-Chamberlain and German playmaker Mesut Ozil are all out of contract next year. It says everything about Ozil’s inconsistent displays that he is not a subject of transfer deadline pursuit.
Wenger has insisted he wants Sanchez and The Ox to stay, even at the cost of losing them for free next year. But the money-minded board may view the situation differently.
Earlier this week Arsenal rejected an initial £50m bid for Sanchez from Manchester City, possibly including the part-exchange of Wembley-born Raheem Sterling. City are expected to come back with something closer to Arsenal’s £70m valuation of Sanchez. This may have consequences at City where Sergio Aguero’s starting status is under threat.
City put medical staff on standby to fly to Chile, where the player is on international duty, to undertake a medical.
Oxlade-Chamberlain has been the subject of a £40m offer from champions Chelsea. The fee suited Arsenal but the 24-year-old turned down the chance of moving to Stamford Bridge because he wants to join the Jurgen Klopp project at Liverpool.
Arsenal are also expected to loan Shkodran Mustafi to Internazionale and have sold occasional England left-back Kieran Gibbs to West Bromwich. In return the Gunners’ transfer targets have remained well hidden though they have inquired about West Brom’s ex-Manchester United centre-back Jonny Evans.
Oxlade-Chamberlain’s reluctance to join Chelsea is likely to see the champions buy Danny Drinkwater, another England midfielder, from Leicester. Drinkwater signalled his readiness to move by submitting a transfer request. Chelsea are also pressing Everton over unsettled playmaker Ross Barkley.