by Tony Attwood
Olivier Giroud has scored 20 goals in 42 games this season, and that is clearly not enough. I know this because everyone tells me so.
But this week an article turned up on the Goonernews blog that suggested that maybe this wasn’t so bad at all. It showed me that in 1998 Arsenal won the league with Bergkamp as top scorer. He got 22 goals all season. In 2001 when Arsenal didn’t win anything Henry also got 22 goals in the season. Clearly on the basis of current analysis he should have been chucked out.
Trouble is the following season he got 32 and we won the league.
In 2008 Adebayor got 30 and we didn’t win the league. In 2012 Robin Van Persie got 37 and we didn’t win anything. So maybe having a top goal scorer isn’t the be all and end all of everything.
And Chelsea – they know how to do it don’t they? And they have the money that people wish Wenger will spend. Here is the chart – again taken from the Goonernews article, of their top scorers
So maybe having a top scorer doesn’t bring in the top prize. In fact, even worse, maybe it doesn’t always help, because here is the current state of play for this season, this time just taking in league goals.
|Player||Club||Lge games||Lge Coals||Lge pos|
But I hear you cry (metaphorically) surely having a top goalscorer is better than not having one! Well, no, because sometimes a top scorer can so dominate a team, no one else can get a chance. Look at Everton and Sunderland. And then no one else is ready to step in when the top man gets injured.
I’ve always maintained that part of Henry’s brilliance with Arsenal was down to him having Pires playing in the team alongside him. Shock horror, maybe it is all more complex than it looks!
Could this be another myth busted – that not only do new players who come in on big fees fail to make an impact in their first year more often than they succeed, not only does Arsenal not have more injuries than the rest of world football put together, not only is changing manager more likely to bring disaster rather than success, not only is Arsenal not the most expensive club in England, Europe and the world, but now we find that our failings (real or imagined) are not down to the simple failure of Wenger to sign a striker.
And actually this might be an even nicer thought than just being able to point out yet again to associated journalists and bloggettas. Because we have a new striker: Alex Iwobi. A young player who looks like he is made for the part, even at 19. (But hey, let’s forget the faith that Mr Wenger has shown in him, not sending him out on loan, having him on the bench, getting him ready etc etc. That might suggest Mr W actually knows a thing or two.)
As even the Telegraph recognised in an article earlier this month by Charlie Eccleshare, finding kids like Alex Iwobi is what Mr Wenger does.
And to quote from the Telegraph article,
“If many Arsenal supporters had their way Alex Iwobi would be nowhere near the first-team right now. Instead he’d be playing with the Under-21s while Isco, Ilkay Gundogan and Andriy Yarmolenko competed for the first-team spot Iwobi has recently made his own.
“It’s impossible to say whether in this parallel universe Arsenal would be doing better than they are now, but what we can say with certainty is that the rise of Iwobi has been the most exciting thing to have happened to Arsene Wenger’s team this season.”
As we all know, he has started four of the last five, and started scoring. He doesn’t look 19, at least in terms of his football. And when the Telegraph starts talking about an Arsenal player with “intelligent movement and determination to be at the centre of everything” you know something is up. The normal headline these days is “27 crap players that Wenger wasted Arsenal’s millions on” or words to that effect.
(Actually they really have changed of late, as they recently published Elneny proving a bargain buy for Arsenal. It took me several days to recover).
So there is now talk of Alex being a first team regular for years to come, of his self-confidence, of his technical proficiency, of his five year contract.
And although they miss this point, there is another real bonus. Every time someone like Alex Iwobi is found (note please, Coquelin, Bellerin, Fabregas etc etc) it makes it easier to recruit all the other players we want to try out. The kids and their parents look, and notice, and realise that if you are good enough you will get a chance at Arsenal. It is not like that everywhere.
Plus of course in developing the Arsenal reputation, Chelsea are helping us. Because they still can’t get a player from their youth squad into the first team on a regular basis, even in a season where they have nothing to play for in the league. Even in a season when they have more players on loan than has ever been achieved by any other club in the history of loans.
When Arsenal have success under Wenger it is with a combination of players Arsenal develop from scratch, players Arsenal buy and then change their way of playing (Pires, Henry and Bergkamp are examples – compare what they did for later, and how they struggled in their early games), and players who were already there – Overmars is one such that always strikes me).
But amusingly the horror stories have already started. I have actually seen, “Arsenal could be without Alex Iwobi for the start of the 2016-17 season after the teenager revealed he wants to be part of the Olympic Games in Rio de Janiero this summer.”
So a new forward line of Iwobi, Welbeck and Alexis has emerged, with multiple backups for when people are injured. Let’s hope not too many of them are sold in the summer, as the media are telling us will happen. (If you are English you are out, seems the main thought).
And it really is looking good when you consider what Mohamed Elneny has brought to the team for such a modest transfer fee (and the fact he is only 23).
Altogether, I find this all rather promising.
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