Many of Wenger’s critics and indeed Arsenal fans generally are still convinced that the Gunners require a world class centre forward. Since the ever controversial departure of a certain Mr. van Persie, the clubs centre forward role has been one surrounded by debate and often with heavy doses of perhaps unnecessary scrutiny.
This transfer window has the same debate like many of its predecessors – ‘I want Benzema’, ‘I like the look of that Lacazette’ are just many of the common phrases I read from the Arsenal Twitter faithful. Yet at this current moment in time the Gunners have arguably their most prominent forward options for some years and yet we cry for never ending improvement.
Yes I would love to have an Aguero or a Costa – but strikers like that don’t grow on trees sadly. Who’s to say these goal scorers whom we yearn for would be an instant hit at Arsenal? If history tells us anything it’s that strikers can often be very much hit and miss in the Premier League. Particularly when they are arriving from an inferior or less physical league and perhaps therefore we should be looking at the talented options available to us.
With Theo Walcott’s very successful end of season audition at centre forward I ask myself, is Theo the future? When was the last time you saw Arsenal play with the same pace and flexibility as we did in the FA Cup final? A general answer would be probably a while ago – did someone say Invincibles? Too far maybe?
The Theo debate is one I will discuss in due course but for the first time in years I feel optimistic, hell do you know what, I even feel slightly confident with our current forward options. How many other sides can say a striker of Danny Welbeck’s quality, the top scorer in European Championship qualifying, is there third choice striker? I’m struggling to come up with an answer. Our current crop of forwards deserve more respect and while they may fall short of the world class bracket for me they are all prized assets to Arsenal, each providing a unique crucial contribution to the squad. Well that is apart from Yaya Sanogo, sorry he won’t get a mention.
I admit in my times of agony and bitterness that comes regularly with supporting Arsenal I have at times unfairly judged our French target man. Yes at times it feels like he may need 12 chances to finally find the back of the net but his role at the club has now become vital. Despite that horrifying game against Monaco where it looked as if Olivier may never fully recover last season was without a doubt his finest in red and white. Goals against big sides, some outstanding exhibitions in hold up play, audacious flicks and a player of the month award perfectly sum up his superb campaign. He may lack consistency but his physical presence, combined with his impressive ball control are attributes which can change games. Game-changers are quite rare you know, we should be giving one of ours more credit. Imagine what would have been last season if it weren’t for that broken leg.
Talking of game-changers it seems we may have come across yet another one, one who has revived his Arsenal career. Theo’s career as a winger for me has come to an end and now Wenger should concentrate on moulding him into a centre forward. To be fair ‘Le Boss’ as we know, confirmed in May that is his plan for Walcott in what he described as the ‘Golden Age’ of 26-32 for a striker.
A proven finisher and well known to possess the pace of almost a 100m sprinter Theo’s position transformation could be hugely beneficial up front, allowing more flexibility and a penetrative dimension with his runs in behind. Theo’s pace has always been something which has scared defenders and now he seems to have discovered his form in the centre forward next season could be Theo’s most dangerous to date, Over 20 goals from wide, in his last full season lead to very positive thoughts guys as to what is possible for him through the middle.
Is he a future Arsenal striker? All the factors point toward yes, and a good one at that.
It’s a shame the goals never really came for ‘Dat Guy’ last season but his input to the team is still vital. A transfer shrouded in disappointment by some Welbeck was never going to be the striker to score us 20 goals a season but his contribution was more than admirable. Versatility and work ethic have been the major factors during his time at Arsenal but now the team seem to finally be gelling without ‘Welbz’ after yet another injury lay-off. This is not to say though that we do not need him – of course we do – and the fact that we have a third option of his quality gives me a certain degree of confidence concerning the quality of our forward options. The goals may come for Welbeck, we will see, but even without large quantities of goals he is still a valuable member of the squad and one that most teams in the Premier League would relish having.
Before conclusions are jumped to, no I do not think Akpom should be part of our first team set up. However he is the most exciting prospect currently within the academy so I feel he deserves a mention. A loan move is most certainly required to nurture his raw talent but it is clear that this kid is going places and a hat trick against the ‘mighty’ Singapore XI will only help the cause. With physical attributes similar to that of Thierry Henry his future at Arsenal certainly seems bright and a player of his level in the youth ranks always makes me feel just that little bit more positive. Just make sure he gets first team football somewhere else Arsene for the time being.
So Arsenal fans I ask this one favour, just try and be a tad more positive about our forwards. I know some of you may think, but Danny surely Benzema or Lacazette would be a massive improvement? (the two strikers most heavily linked with the club). I say this, Lacazette had a fantastic season but has a lot more to prove and despite his volume of league goals (27 in total) he was unable to register a strike against any of the top 5 sides in France. And let’s us not forget Olivier Giroud arrived having hit 21, firing unfancied Montpelier to the Ligue 1 title in 2011/12. The following season his first in the transition from the French top flight to the Premier League he scored 11. Similarly Pierre Aubameyang after 2 years after stepping up from French football to the Bundesliga has nowhere near matched his goal tally for St Etienne in 12/13.
As for Benzema, for me his career at Real Madrid has been plagued with inconsistency and he like Bale has often been heavily criticised by the ever judgemental Madrid fans. Transfers are not always the answer so let’s ditch that pessimism and for once let the optimism coarse through our stress worn Arsenal bodies.
Thanks for reading and I have not even included option 5 have I? Alexis Sanchez through the middle is another possibility but I much prefer him wide of off a main striker and I think the player and Wenger feel the same.
Until next time.