Arsenal Focus - Trio set to sign contract renewals but Walcott holds out
In times of difficulty, flashes of optimism should be welcomed with open arms. And with Arsenal's current shaky spell, which could possibly be dubbed a 'crisis', in full swing, the securing of some of their youngest, most promising players can be considered a plus point.
There is plenty of what can easily be perceived as deadwood at the Emirates Stadium at the moment - the names shall remain unmentioned. But one man who can certainly not be considered dispensable is midfield dynamo Jack Wilshere, who is on the verge of agreeing a new deal with the club.
England international Wilshere only came back from a lengthy spell on the sidelines in October but the effect of his return on the Gunners' midfield has been palpable - despite the glumness currently surrounding the Arsenal first team. And with the 20-year-old still not totally back to the levels of performance he reached prior to his lay-off, the best is yet to come.
Also rumoured to be close to signing on the dotted line are Wilshere's fellow midfielders Aaron Ramsey and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain who, at 21-years-old and 19-years-old respectively, are also at the heart of the future of Arsenal.
Tying down the trio will be a major boost for Arsene Wenger amidst the gloom and doom of the League Cup exit to fourth tier Bradford City last week. It will prove that the club can still convince the most talented young players across the nation that they still have lofty ambitions to which the players themselves can be central.
But the renewals can also act as a diversion. Securing these talented footballers for the foreseeable future is a coup - but convincing them to stay in the long-term if Arsenal continue to suffer a trophy drought will be much more difficult.
Of course, for every Oxlade-Chamberlain, there is a Gervinho and for every Jack Wilshere, there is an Andrei Arshavin. If Arsenal are to cling onto their most valuable assets, and not be forced into selling them to Manchester City in the prime of their career, the Gunners must invest more appropriately on players who are able to support their talented young core.
Despite the imminent re-signings of Wilshere, Ramsey and Oxlade-Chamberlain, there remains no news on contract rebels Theo Walcott and Bacary Sagna. The duo are two of Arsenal's more talented footballers but the longer the saga drags on, the more likely it seems that both will leave north London for pastures new.
Walcott was in the same position as Oxlade-Chamberlain and his peers a couple of seasons ago and remained confident that he could fulfil his ambitions at Arsenal. A few years down the line and he may be pushing for a move to the likes of Chelsea and Liverpool. It is Arsenal's task to ensure that Wilshere, Ramsey and Oxlade-Chamberlain do not get itchy feet in future.
See what the expert tipsters at OLBG are tipping on Reading v Arsenal