Wednesday, 10 August 2011

A Striking Dilemma

Van Persie's Arsenal

Much has been said about our defensive issues over the last season and more, but what also concerns me going into this season is our lack our depth at the striker. As our football club prepares for departure of Cesc Fàbregas, much attention will turn to the captain in waiting Robin Van Persie. This is now Van Persie's team without any shadow of a doubt. He is our leader in terms of performance on the pitch (all be it the wrong choice for skipper), he is in the form of his life but when we played Benfica last Saturday, he got clattered and was down requiring treatment. As every gooner collectively sighed cross the globe hoping this wasn't another injury like the one he picked up at Ewood Park last season, it suddenly dawned on me that it wasnt just a another case of 'van Persie ruled out indefinitely', this was now a situation where without the great Dutchman we carry very little threat in reserve.

Competition (or lack of)

Van Persie is without a doubt our leading striker but we all know he isn't exactly reliant... Hopefully he can overcome that this season and beat his best record of 38 starts in a season but if the worst was to happen, we have to look to our squad. Marouane Chamakh would appear to be the next in line and that worries me, immensely. First of all we are going to have to rely on him to get us through the first 90 minutes of our tie v Udinese. Relying on a player who has mustered 11 shots at goal (in the Premier League) since Christmas is nothing short of disgraceful and embarrassing. Of those 11 shots he's managed to get a mighty 2 on target, he's averaging a shot on goal every 215 minutes (via @orbinho). What is all of that about? Given our wealth of wingers and the creativity that Fàbregas brings/brought to our side it makes me wonder if we've put a square peg in a round hole. Chamakh looked a real threat during his time at Bordeaux and he even started his Arsenal career well but the phrase "form is temporary, class is permanent" doesn't look like it applies in the case. There is speculation about his private life affecting his performances but if that is the case it has now gone on for 8 months and that isn't acceptable. He didn't manage a single goal in pre-season, even against a Malaysia XI and the mighty Hangzhou Greentown. He is paid a reported 50k a week and I can't help but feel Bendtner's appetite for starts would be served better by staying at Arsenal, rather than being lower in the pecking order to Chamakh. His touch has been appalling throughout his baron spell and his ability to hide in games is unbelievable. Fans always get on the backs of Arshavin and Bendtner but they always put themselves up there when it comes to creating or scoring goals. Then we have Carlos Vela, who to be fair to him has shown that he is a lot more lively and ruthless in his appearances during pre-season. For a start, he's actually scored, twice! I would say he is ahead of Chamakh in terms of starting but that's more of damming indictment on Chamakh than it is praise for Vela. The Mexican does get into positions where he can hurt sides but are we in a position where a player that we loaned out to West Brom, who couldn't hold down a starting berth with them, suddenly becomes our number 2 striker, I don't think so. I would like us to convivnce Bendtner to stay with us. He may not be the regular starter but considering we can play approx 60 games in a season, when Van Persie has only managed over 30 starts once in his Arsenal career, that's as good as assurance you'll get for minutes on the pitch. It is however unlikely given Bendtner's claim that a transfer is very close to happening that he will ever pull on an Arsenal shirt again (much to the delight of many Arsenal fans).


We do also have striking options on the wings but giving the tactics/selection in pre-season I can't see Theo Walcott entertaining any time through the middle. Maybe an injury crisis will break out and Arsène Wenger will have no choice but to put our new age number 14 at the heart of our attack. I think Walcott would make an excellent striker (as I have blogged on at the end of last season), he has all of the qualities we need but it appears another season on the right wing beckons. Maybe once Oxlade-Chamberlain shows he is ready to play week in week out we'll see Theo make the transition from winger to striker. We also have a man for all forward positions in Gervinho but he has accommodated the flanks throughout all of his appearances so far. He certainly has the directness within the box to go for goal and he would definelty score us goals but given his career at Arsenal is in it's infantcy it's unlikely he'll move either. We've also deployed Arshavin as a centre forward in the past but that didn't quite go to plan. Especially when we lost 3-1 to United but he wasn't to be faulted given that fact he competed for crosses against Ferdinand and Vidic. How Arshavin paid for that cracking strike at Anfield.

Buy Buy Buy

We need to sign a striker, it's as simple as that. Van Persie needs competition for his place, the team needs more than one genuine goal source and maybe it buck the ideas of certain alleged forwards. No Plan B has often been a commonly used phase around the The Emirates and we may well start the season without a genuine plan A, if we are to lose Nasri & Fàbregas. Irrespective of those issues we will need to show intent in the transfer market and sign a forward, fans clamour for the signings of Benzema or Rossi. Players like Llorente may become available if we pay the right price. This is a worrying time regarding the direction our club is heading in but we seem to have so many issues that one transfer window may not be enough to sign the players we need. One thing is for certain, if Fàbregas and/or Nasri is to leave by the weekend, the club and the fans need top class players coming through that door or this may well prove to be a long season. After all Wenger said we wouldn't be a big club if we sold them, he can however prove we are a big club by bringing in proven players.

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