Arsene Wenger moved to allay the fears of Arsenal fans on Tuesday saying he would replace both Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil with class acts should they end up leaving.
Both Sanchez, who came close to moving to Manchester City on the final day of the last transfer window in August, and Ozil’s contracts are up at the end of the present season.
Sanchez’s attitude and commitment to the club have been questioned by fans and some of his team-mates did not congratulate the 29-year-old Chilean after he scored a double in the 3-2 Premier League win over Crystal Palace last Thursday.
Wenger, whose transfer dealings have been a sore point with sections of the Arsenal support, said he would also be on the look-out for players in the present transfer window.
“We are open to any position for the exceptional player that can give us a plus. It depends a little bit on the injuries as well,” said the Arsenal manager on the eve of their match with reigning Premier League champions Chelsea.
“On the other hand it depends if we manage to extend the contracts of the players who are at the end of their contracts in June.
“It will depend on that as well. We have to take the consequences of those decisions and respond to it.
“How we cope with that, first of all we have not lost them yet, and secondly we will respond to that by bringing in players of top quality.
“This club has lost many, many big players and has always responded well.”
However, the 68-year-old Frenchman refuted suggestions he was targeting Chelsea’s Brazil centre-back David Luiz or French international midfielder Thomas Lemar from Monaco.
The failure to sign 22-year-old Lemar back in August led to the collapse of the Sanchez move to Manchester City.
“I don’t want to think about any special names, but these reports are wrong,” said Wenger, whose side are currently fifth in the table, six points behind Liverpool in fourth but with a game in hand.
As for catching runaway leaders City, Wenger said there is the slimmest glimmer of hope for their rivals given their two recent performances — a 1-0 win away at struggling Newcastle United and then a 0-0 draw on Sunday against relegation-threatened Crystal Palace.
“They have shown signs of being less dominant,” said Wenger, whose side are 21 points behind City.
“One of the teams behind need to have a perfect run and they (City) need to collapse a bit.”
Mourinho’s side were holding onto a slender lead given to them by Anthony Martial when Lingard took possession with nine minutes left at Goodison Park.
Seconds later the points were in the bag as the 25-year-old weaved through the Everton defence and curled a fine finish into the top corner.
It was Lingard’s 10th goal of the season and his fourth in his last five appearances.
After spending much of his United career struggling to hold down a place, Lingard has thrived under Mourinho, who was full of praise for his development.
“One thing is to be a young talent, another thing is to be a very good player,” Mourinho said.
“Some players are not capable of that jump. They go from great potential to normal players. Lingard is giving that jump.
“He is more consistent, he is adaptable, he understands better the game, he is going in a good direction.”
Lingard’s contribution wrapped up United’s first win in four games after a run of draws had left them lagging behind Premier League leaders Manchester City.
United are still 12 points adrift of their Manchester rivals, but Mourinho, who has criticised his stars recently, took heart from the way his players battled to subdue Everton.
“Our pride, our effort, everything was top class and on top of it we played very well,” he said.
“It wasn’t a performance of tired boys, with the worst possible calendar that you gave us.”
Mourinho has called for substantial backing from United’s owners as he plots several signings in a bid to catch City.
Asked if he would be bringing in new faces in the January transfer window, Mourinho added: “I don’t know about transfers.
“In this moment we are in trouble, in two to three weeks time maybe we recover and we breathe in a different way.
“Can we improve now or do we wait util the summer? I cannot say.”
After a dull first half at Goodison Park, Jose Mourinho‘s side upped the tempo after the break and were rewarded as Martial struck from distance just before the hour.
Everton tried to respond but Lingard ended their hopes as he doubled United’s lead, and lifted them back to second in the Premier League, with a superb individual effort.
TWEET OF THE MATCH
Cracking goal. As it’s now a thing, it’s worth pointing out that Martial has scored more goals in this calendar year than Messi, Ronaldo, Kane and Neymar combined.
— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) January 1, 2018
STAR MAN – PAUL POGBA
Pogba and Juan Mata took charge of the game in the second half, driving the pedestrian United forward at every opportunity.
Mata’s trickery and vision troubled Everton while Pogba’s passing and forceful runs constantly pushed them back.
Both also went close to scoring but Pogba probably just shaded it as to who was the most influential.
MOMENT OF THE MATCH
The first half was dreary but United woke up after the restart.
Mata twice went close with spectacular efforts and Martial changed the complexion of the game with a fine finish but Lingard’s goal was the most eye-catching moment.
His strike was a brilliant solo effort from the edge of the area after a penetrative run.
IN THE CROWD
Wayne Rooney had a disappointing afternoon as he came up against his former club.
He is clearly still remembered with some fondness by United fans – and rightly so – given he is their record goalscorer as they chanted his name early in the game.
They soon made clear he is no longer their favourite, however, with the next chant implying he is overweight.
Jordan Pickford 5
Mason Holgate 6
Michael Keane 6
Ashley Williams 6
Cuco Martina 6
Tom Davies 5
Morgan Schneiderlin 5
Nikola Vlasic 6
Wayne Rooney 5
Yannick Bolasie 6
Oumar Niasse 5
Aaron Lennon (for Bolasie, 62) 5
James McCarthy (for Rooney, 62) 6
Dominic Calvert-Lewin (for Niasse, 81) 5
David de Gea 5
Victor Lindelof 5
Phil Jones 6
Marcos Rojo 6
Luke Shaw 6
Paul Pogba 7
Nemanja Matic 6
Jesse Lingard 6
Juan Mata 7
Ander Herrera 5
Anthony Martial 6
Marcus Rashford (for Martial, 77) 5
Daley Blind (for Lingard, 87) 5
Axel Tuanzebe (for Mata, 90) 5