Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and Henrikh Mkhitaryan can lift Arsenal but Gunners have a Mesut Ozil problem

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Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and Henrikh Mkhitaryan can lift Arsenal but Gunners have a Mesut Ozil problem

THEY have arrived too late to save Arsene Wenger but Arsenal’s three amigos might just be the future for the new manager.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and Henrikh Mkhitaryan started together for the first time in Sunday’s 5-0 rout of Burnley.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang celebrates scoring for Arsenal against BurnleyPierre-Emerick Aubameyang celebrates scoring for Arsenal against BurnleyGetty Alexandre Lacazette was also on the scoresheet against the ClaretsAlexandre Lacazette was also on the scoresheet against the ClaretsGetty

And the way the superstar trio instantly clicked suggests they could be a force to be reckoned with next season.

Now the headache for the next Gunners boss is finding a place for £350,000-a-week Mesut Ozil in his starting line-up.

Ozil’s injuries and illnesses are winding up some of his team-mates. If the new gaffer takes a dim view of his unreliability in terms of availability, he could be missing even more games next season than this — by being put on the bench.

When Aubameyang signed for a club record £60million from Borussia Dortmund in January, it was widely assumed that he had been bought to replace Lacazette up front.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan started alongside the goalscorers for the first time against BurnleyHenrikh Mkhitaryan started alongside the goalscorers for the first time against BurnleyPA:Press Association The trio have arrived too late to save Arsene WengerThe trio have arrived too late to save Arsene WengerGetty Images - Getty Whoever the new Arsenal boss is must sort out the problem with Mesut OzilWhoever the new Arsenal boss is must sort out the problem with Mesut OzilGetty

The Frenchman had struggled to justify his £52m price tag during his first six months in England and was already in danger of being written off.

Yet rather than accept his fate as Aubameyang’s pricey back-up, Lacazette has responded with the kind of form which prompted Wenger to sign him in the first place.

DRIVE BYE Wenger stops for autographs and photos with fans before training

Eight goals in his last nine games since returning from six-weeks out with a knee injury is confirmation that Lacazette is far too good to sit on the bench.

And now he is relishing the opportunity to play alongside Aubameyang in a partnership which promises to be Arsenal’s most prolific since the days of Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp and Robin van Persie.

Mkhitaryan, a straight swap for Alexis Sanchez, has also hit the ground running after being dumped by Manchester United.

It was head of recruitment Sven Mislintat rather than Wenger who drove the January deals for Aubameyang and Mkhitaryan. Arsenal’s new transfer chief knew both players from their time together at Dortmund and convinced them to move to the Emirates despite the absence of Champions League football.

Wenger gave his approval to both signings but the deals would have gone ahead without his say-so if necessary.

 

No-one at Arsenal thinks that all their problems have been answered by one decent home game against a half-hearted Burnley side.

But the basis of next season’s team is already starting to take shape, with Wenger insisting that this squad will challenge for major honours with the right summer signings.

If the new manager retains the 4-3-3 formation which so impressed at the weekend, it is hard to see where Ozil fits in. He could play on the left of midfield alongside Aaron Ramsey and Granit Xhaka. But his reluctance to track back or make a physical challenge would leave Arsenal vulnerable in the middle of the park.

He could also work on the left of a 4-4-2 but does not enjoy playing wide and would struggle to give much defensive support to his full-back.

That is why there is a growing realisation at the club that it would be a huge mistake to allow Jack Wilshere to leave as a free agent this summer.

Wilshere is in the final few weeks of his contract and is keen to stay at the Emirates.

But the contract he has been offered still requires him to take a wage cut and would pay him little more than a quarter of Ozil’s salary. Talks are ongoing and Arsenal are still hoping to convince Wilshere to stay.

The club’s hierarchy are also keen to give a more prominent role to emerging midfielders Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Reiss Nelson next season.

The Arsenal jigsaw is slowly falling into place. But Ozil — despite having the fattest salary — may no longer be the key piece in the picture when the new boss looks at his options.

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