On the eve of post deadline day hysteria I started on a piece about our striking options without bringing anyone in. The gist of it being is that, for the team to progress, Welbeck would be our best option at ‘nine’ given his physical attributes and, compared to Ollie and Theo, he has a greater capacity to improve given his age and raw ingredients.
To then find out he was injured a week before the window was shut, knowing we’ve already loaned out Akpom, Gnabry and, dare I say it Sanogo, can only be called negligence.
How can you go into a season with one and a half strikers? Even though we really shouldn’t be too surprised as we went into last season with two centre backs knowing it would cost us! There are no excuses! World class strikers weren’t available but stop gaps to come in and fill a hole were.
Take Charlie Austin 15 million. 18 premier league goals last season – more than anyone in the squad may I add. And also he’s English, which means in investment terms he’s like Oak, he’ll hold his money to sell on again after a season or two and will be a much better player than Joel Campbell or no one to throw on when we are chasing a game, right ligaments in his dick or not.
All that being said we are where we are and must move on with the new season once again, after a painful international break anyway. Please no injuries to Walcott or Giroud. Given the squad has most certainly improved defensively with the signings of Cech and Gabriel compiled with the emergence of Francis Coquelin means we’re more solid at the back.
However City having signed Otamendi and United bringing in Schneiderlin and Bastian super German Schweinsteiger to protect their back four means they’ve also improved.
Only Chelsea, you can argue, look weaker there due to father time and only signing papaDoujaplaysomeonefromyoursuccessfulyouthteam. Meaning the Gunners and the rest of the top teams bar City because they’re the bench mark scoring 83 goals last year. Need to score more to have hopes of a successful season.
We got the cow hide in the onion bag 71 times last season which was the third best in the country behind Champions Chelsea and an Aguero spearheaded Manchester City. Now without any new blood in the squad in the final third the Arsenal need to find some ‘top top internal solutions’ ’before our like a new signing’ Welbeck comes back in January. Because I can’t see our frustrating Frenchman getting to many more than his 14 in the league last season and our not so young anymore author Theo Walcott is such an unknown quantity up front, although for me, with Poldi leaving the club, he is now the best finisher we have barring maybe barring Sanchez. Unfortunately for Theo though you need more than that to be a top level striker and as much as I love you I agree with Ian Wright when he says perhaps you’re a little late to the party to become a top striker. When he plays there he does seem to hog his usual right hand side channel between left centre back and left back meaning he goes missing up top for long periods. All this of course means, like our manager has told us, the goals need to be shared around the squad.
Let’s begin where there’s no need for improvement. Our left wing last year was occupied by our main man Alexis Sanchez smashing 16 goals in 35 premier league outings. His movement in to the box with or without the ball from the left flank is world class most certainly the best I’ve seen since Bobby Pires. So getting 16 or more again certainly doesn’t look like it’s going to be a problem.
Out of our rivals only Chelsea have a player to rival that in the pesky Belgian that is Eden Hazard. United this season’s real unknown have brought in Memphis. Who, although scoring an astonishing 22 goals in the Eredivisie, is not realistically expected to score half that many in his debut season in England. City spent 50m on bringing in Raheem Sterling who will undoubtedly improve on his seven goals for Liverpool given he’s now plying his trade with far superior players. So as for the left we can’t really ask for much improvement just more of the same you beautiful Chilean.
The next areas the man next to the ‘DM’. At the minute and hopefully in my eyes for the rest of the season due to the balance he brings next to le coq – it’s little Andalusian Santi Cazorla who scored seven goals last year – not a bad return. But six of them were penalties and the amount of good positions he gets in I think we should be asking for more. It’s not traditionally an area you ask for goals however when you don’t have a 25 goals a season striker you’ve got to look for more and there’s no reason a player of his calibre can’t be getting more than one from open play. You only have to go back to 13/14 when Ramsey scored ten league goals from there.
Especially when you look at City who got 10 goals from a disgruntled Yaya Toure last season who plays in a similar role and with him playing like he got a new bike for his birthday this season so far I wouldn’t be surprised to see that number go north. I imagine United, Chelsea and Liverpool will all be asking for more from Herrera, Fabregas and Henderson scoring six, three and six respectively last term. And we can only look back at those clubs having had Scholes, Lampard and Gerrard and remember how influential those players were in terms of goals. Last season Santi averaged 2.5 shots a game so whether it’s him, Ramsey or Wilshere we need double figures lads.
Now Mr Ozil this is the area where you have to improve. That’s not just me, a 26 year old engineer come amateur blogger, saying this. It’s your manager and you yourself. He was behind all the other number tens that the other big boys had last year with Silva leading the way with ten goals. It is not only just for the team’s sake his return of four goals in 22 appearances needs to be improved on. It’s for him to be appreciated as a great ‘ten’ on these shores. The likes of Coutinho and Silva are more heralded because they carry a more obvious threat. And the stats back it up by the fact they both far outweighed Mesut Ozil’s amount of shots last season with 103 and 66 respectively compared to the German’s 29. The man’s class silky skills, unbelievable vision, surprising fleet of foot and an eye for a pass. But so many times in positon to score he’s not ruthless enough. So he needs to shoot more and I think given his pace he needs to get beyond Giroud more. But because I still don’t think he enjoys the rough nature of many Premier League defensive midfielder’s he either drops deeper or drifts sideways. So wouldn’t it be wonderful to see him get up in the channels a bit more often instead. If you ever watch him in the warm up he finds the top corner for fun annoyingly. So we definitely need him to hit monsieur Wenger’s target of 10 if we’re going to be satisfied in May and probably more because I think Silva will be closer to 15 this season.
Where every team seemed to really lack goals last season last season was from the right of their three behind the striker in this new 4-2-3-1 era the premier leagues moving into. City and Chelsea had Navas with zilch and Brazilian Willian mustering 2 in 35 and 36 games respectively for their money bag sides. And both sides have appeared to have acted up on this in the transfer market with Chelsea bringing in Pedro from Barcelona and the Citizens paying an absurd 50+ million for Kevin De Bruyne. Pedro appears to have hit the ground running in England and although playing a bit part role at Barca last year still managed nine goals. The expensive Belgian is a bit of an unknown quantity on the right so the jury’s out if that is indeed where he will play.
When it comes to ourselves it seems Arsene is obsessed in trying to shoehorn Rambo in there. This the end of the world because the Welshman is that goal orientated he’ll get on the end of things. I just don’t personally like central players on the wing and feel it narrows all the play and blunts our attack. If you’re a left back you’re not going to be that worried by what Ramsey is going to do from the right wing. Whereas when an Oxlade-Chamberlain receives the ball the left back is going to be bricking it because he’ll run at you, turn you every which way and keep you on your toes for 90 minutes. Also he’s going to be dragging other players over to help the left back like we see with Alexis on the other flank. But as the Ox has admitted he needs more end product and I for one think this could be a big year for the young Englishmen. Already with a goal and an assist in two out of the three games he’s started. I also love the fact he’s still raw. It gives him an unpredictable edge which players lose with age. There could also be shouts for Theo to play here given his last full season on the right wing yielded 14 goals in 32 games. However with the amount of the problems the midfield has finding balance at the minute I think that would be a wild decision but in truth Ox pulling in those type of figures will be very welcome.
Many people talk as if the title race is over already given City’s steam train start. I think we all need to calm down though it’s not over yet. They are my pick to win it. But an injury to Kompany and Aguero; Yaya not getting the Trainers he wants for Christmas will certainly slow them down. For Arsenal I just want to be able to dream. To get close to that feeling when you’re in the conversation in April. But I think the manager’s taken too big a risk for that to happen this season.
However if all the players I’ve mentioned step up I don’t see why we can’t be more hopeful. It will obviously take more than that. The team has to start playing well for a start with the cohesion and balance required and still after what seems like an eternity our corners have got to get better. Perhaps one of lads can become a more regular free kick threat. I would also love to see 4-1-4-1 trialled again. Ozil right with Ox left then Sanchez up front leaving Ramsey and Cazorla in the centre with Coquelin sweeping up behind.
There is though one massive, and I mean massive, thing that has to happen and that’s we have to steer clear of injuries. We have Gibbs, Arteta, Wilshere, Ramsey, Walcott and the Ox all injury prone. All the stars will truly have to align for this squad to do something special. But all we can do is get behind the lads for the rest of the season and that’s what I’ll do.
So come on you gunners let’s step up.
Red member and 26-year-old engineer from Dorset. My life’s biggest regret is never going to Highbury. I try to attend as many games as possible. I’ve always had a love of Arsenal left wings, starting with Overmars, through Pires and Nasri, right up to Alexis. I don’t have an agenda: I just write about the game and club I love as I see it.