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How many centre forwards can you play in the team at once?

By Tony Attwood

Arsène Wenger has apparently said that Olivier Giroud could return to the squad ahead of schedule, following his injury in the match with Everton.  But supposing he does…   Do we use Danny Welbeck in the number 9 slot, or Giroud, or have them alternating, or use both at once.

In fact Mr Wenger answered that point by saying. “Welbeck and Giroud can play together in the centre or separately. Welbeck also played on one side to Manchester United. Welbeck played in the same team with Rooney and Van Persie. He can play down the sides.”

So, that looks like good news – although obviously some way away yet.  More immediately we have Theo Walcott in full training.  I’m not sure what happens next – does he get a game with the under 21s as Diaby has done, or does he go onto the bench, in the hope of a run out against Hull, towards the end?

Of course if we had a fit Welbeck, Giroud, Walcott and Alexis, that would mean someone has to drop out – the notion of rotation instead of covering for injuries is something I am not used to thinking about!

Danny Welbeck is of course flavour of the month, and I think it is wonderful that he is getting time on the pitch – time to score the goals, and time inevitably to make mistakes, as all young strikers do.  For when they make the inevitable mistakes strikers like to get more chances to make up for the errors, and at the moment Danny has that with both England and Arsenal.

This of course is one of many differences he finds between Man U and Arsenal – the fact that he is getting a run in the team down the middle, and the fact that he is in a settled club that has had the same manager for many years, rather than now being on its third manager in three years.

There is also one other benefit coming Danny’s way – and that is that after some tough games, we are now entering a period, where we will be playing teams against whom the goal chances could be more numerous.

As he himself said, “If you’re getting goals and getting a run of games in your preferred position, your confidence is going to grow and performances are going to grow as well,” Welbeck said. “I’m really looking forward to building on these performances.

“When I’m playing with these sort of players, they are looking to slip the ball in behind and I am always ready for that. I’m looking to make the movement right and get in behind the defenders. I want to build an understanding with the players. It’s good to play with midfielders of this calibre and they are only going to create chances.”

Of course the talk about Welbeck being like Thierry Henry, which is what some commentators have launched into, is premature.  Henry wasn’t like Henry until his third season – he was doing ok after a slow start, but the Henry that we remember and see in all the clips was the Henry that emerged from the third year onwards.

Maybe it is just the fact that people who called themselves supporters were highly critical of Henry and Wenger, just as they were when we signed Welbeck.   Maybe it is because both played on the wing and then moved into the middle.  But still, whatever the reason for the comparison, it is nice to have a player who might be comparable in time to Henry.

What makes these comparisons and mental doodles all the more interesting, is the issue of Daniel Sturridge who didn’t really get going out wide at Manchester City and Chelsea, but now plays in the centre for Liverpool.  But the on-going argument between Liverpool plus Sturridge and the England camp, contrasts with the sweetness and light that exists between Arsenal plus Welbeck and England.  Sweetness and light makes such a change.

Which brings us back to Giroud and the question of could the two of them really play together?   I’ve often been surprised by Arsène Wenger’s tactics, and the two of them in the same team would surprise me again.  But if it could work it could be a stunningly potent attack line.

I’ve said before that there is always a great temptation to see players as individuals and not consider how they can change in order to work within a team structure.  For example, apart from being a scorer of goals, Giroud drags defenders out of position, which is what has allowed Ramsey to score. That’s part of the game.  Could Welbeck and Giroud each do that for the other, meaning that the defence doesn’t know where it is?  Then the other one scores, or leaves the space for Theo or Alexis, or indeed Ramsey.

After all, way back in the 1970s we played Kennedy and Radford together.  It only worked well for two seasons, and then it really only happened by chance (because of the injury to Charlie George) but no one can deny that it worked.

Of course these are different times, but such speculation helps pass the time when there are only internationals on TV.

(Actually that last comment isn’t quite right, because BT Sport obliged me by putting Torquay United live on TV in a Conference match last week.  Unfortunately my second team lost 4-2, but still it was nice to see them.)

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7 comments to How many centre forwards can you play in the team at once?

  • nicky

    Giroud is a great team player,unselfish
    and a provider for others.
    Welbeck played on the wing at Old Trafford, clearly to his detriment.
    Only Arsene Wenger and his coaching staff will know whether they are likely to prosper together on the field.

  • bjtgooner

    There have been occasions when AW has played two strikers together – e.g. Giroud and Sanogo, so there is no reason why Giroud and Welbeck cannot operate together.

    The important thing is to have options and when necessary, rotation.

  • Menace

    Giroud & Danny? I would like to see Poldi. Campbell & Danny up front (shoot on sight) with Theo & Rosicky supporting. They would rip the defense of any team. Then add Giroud and make the defenders dizzy. Dreams can come true.

  • para

    When i imagine how Giroud holds up the ball and Danny in front, it should work. As mentioned above, Giroud and Sanogo works too, so there we have two options already.

    @Menace
    I think there is good possibility that you will see that set of players, maybe as a surprise option, maybe through injuries or even a little rotation.

    I think the team is becoming more settled and more important, much more diversity.

  • Micheal Ram

    It’s a non-issue here. I believe Welbeck and Giroud works because it’s Giroud! A truly unique forward, he combines his brute strength with exceptional intelligence. A player like that will accommodate anyone. He partically works very well with every player in every position because he is unselfish and reads the game magnificently. Welbeck and others will have a field day with Giroud around. Despite saying that, Giroud always gives something to others at the expense of himself and at the mercy of people who don’t understand football. Only those around him knows his value just like Ozil.

  • bob mac

    Excluding the keeper Arsenal play with 5 fixed positions ( 2xCH; 2xWB; 1xDM)

    Which means they play 5 un-fixed attackers.

    It puzzles me when supporters go on about a 9 or 10 position, can anyone explain.

  • omgarsenal

    Does anyone see what, imho, seems to be significant similarities between Sanogo, Wellbeck and Gnabry and Campbell? They are all very young, extremely speedy, fairly tall (except Campbell) and very lanky strikers. Sanogo is 21, 1.91 metres and only 74 kgs, Wellbeck is 23, 1.85 metres and 73 kgs, while Gnabry is the baby of this group at 19, 1.73 metres, 73 kilos.Campbell is 1.78 metres, 22 years old, and 71 kgs
    They each can run as fast as or faster than the Ox, Theo and Gibbs and incidentally they are all black kids. So what we have here are 7 players who could outrun about 99% of any EPL defenders and 4 of whom are Brits with the remainder from 4 great sporting nations.
    In particular I love watching Wellbeck and Sanogo play. They remind me of Viera and Henry in their early days at AFC….finding their way around the pitch but showing such great potential and promise.