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October 2016
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Strikers: the second Arsenal gamble of Summer 2015 (and will we buy this summer?)

By Tim Charlesworth

My last article talked about the two big gambles that Wenger took in constructing the squad in the summer of 2015. The first gamble was in midfield and the second was in the striker/no 9 position. So now we take a look at last season’s strikers. We went into the season with Giroud and Walcott as our main options. Its not clear to me which one of the two (if either) was intended to be ‘first choice’. Welbeck was also part of the picture, but injured at the start of the season with an uncertain return date.

Has Wenger ever intended Giroud to be the lead striker?

Olivier Giroud gets a lot of unfair criticism. He is not the best striker in the league, but he is one of them, and he does his job for Arsenal to the best of his ability. A lot of supporters think he is not quite good enough for a title winning team, and they are probably right. However I think this point is overstated. Football is a team game, and people often over-estimate the importance of a single player. This is particularly true of strikers, who are both important, and very prominent players. France won the World Cup in 1998 without a prolific striker, as did Spain in 2010.

In most cases, a successful team has a successful striker. However, there is a causality problem with this observation. A striker playing for a very good team is almost bound to score a lot of goals because he will be given a lot of high quality chances by his team mates against a stretched defence. Similarly, his opponents will have to pay attention to other members of his team and will thus be prevented from marking the striker out of the game.

Giroud is often used as a stick to beat Wenger with. His faith in Giroud is used as an example of his poor/declining judgement. Whenever I hear this analysis, I am always struck with the thought that it might be plain wrong. It is not clear to me that Wenger has the faith in Giroud that is usually assumed. The assumption is based on the fact that Giroud has been our principal striker for the last four seasons. However, I am not sure that Arsene has intended it to be this way.

It is always a bit difficult to discern Arsenal’s real intentions in the transfer market, because they are very secretive about it. However, the following observations seem to be credible:

Giroud joined in the summer of 2012, when Van Persie was still at the club. It is not clear that Wenger expected Van Persie to leave. Wenger can be very optimistic in these circumstances and it seems that he only really gave up on persuading Van Persie to stay a few days before he left. It may be that Giroud was really signed to replace Chamakh – to compete with and complement Van Persie, rather than to replace him.

The following summer (2013), we know that Arsenal bid £40m for Luis Suarez. It is reasonable to assume that Suarez was intended to supplant Giroud as the main striker. Arsenal also appeared to be confident for most of the summer that they would get their man eventually, so perhaps didn’t really develop an alternative plan in the case that the Suarez acquisition failed.

The summer of 2014 is particularly difficult to read. We signed Sanchez. Wenger used him as a striker early on and is it possible that he was intended to supplant Giroud? Wenger talks a lot about how he thinks the best strikers come from South America at the moment.

Wenger was also linked with a number of other strikers (although its not clear how reliable these links were). He also signed Welbeck at the end of the transfer window, and then used him a lot as a no 9 in the early matches of the season. As Giroud returned from injury in the autumn of 2014, Welbeck lost his place. However this may have been due to Welbeck’s slow scoring rate, rather than because Wenger always intended to bring Giroud back.

In the summer of 2015, there were plenty of rumours that Wenger was trying to sign Higuain and Benzema. He was maybe priced out of this option by Napoli’s demands. Maybe Benzema decided to stay put.  

His plan B was to use Walcott and Giroud and early season selections suggest that he intended Walcott to be the main striker with Giroud in a supporting or rotating role. This is difficult to imagine now, given Walcott’s hideous loss of form, but if you look back to Wenger’s choices in September 2015, he appeared to favour Walcott. As the season wore on and Walcott’s form faded, Giroud lost his starting place again, this time to the returning Welbeck.

It seems from all this that it is perfectly possible that Wenger has never intended Giroud to be his leading striker. Perhaps Giroud has simply been the beneficiary of a series of form failures, injuries and failed bids for other players.

If this is the case, and I suspect that my analysis is, at least partly, true, then we could make the following observations about Giroud:

He has played for us during one of the less glamorous periods in the club’s history, but has still given his all.

He has worked incredibly hard on his positioning, particularly his near post runs, and has really made the most of the talent that he has.

His main problem is that he lacks pace and agility. He is a very heavily built guy (that’s why he is so dominant in the air). I think that the level of agility he has achieved suggests good commitment to training and conditioning.

Pace can also be ‘trained’, but is limited by natural leg cadence. It looks to me that he has achieved pretty much the maximum pace that someone limited by his natural leg speed could achieve.

Despite some severe provocation, I have never once heard him criticise the fans, the manager or the club.

He makes a valuable and often underestimated contribution in defence, especially at set pieces. You don’t often see a goal headed by the man he was marking! This has been particularly important during a period when the team was very vulnerable to set pieces.

If you exclude penalties, Giroud (15) scored 5 league goals less than Kane and Aguero (20) last season and four less than Vardy (19). I think he is a better link player and a better defender than any of these three, so is his overall contribution to the team really a lot less than them? Remember he also only made 26/38 starts in the league.

Whatever you feel about him, he has made an important contribution to our team over four seasons. Without him, I doubt that all the FA Cups, top four finishes and St Totts days would have happened. I know we wanted more, but let’s not forget what he has helped us to achieve.

So when I hear our fans singe na-na-na etc Giroud (to the tune of ‘hey Jude’), I believe it is sung with genuine affection and appreciation for what he has done. He may not be Thierry Henry, but that’s a pretty harsh bar to judge anyone by. After all, I am no Charles Dickens, but if you have got this far, you obviously think it is worth reading what I write.


And so I come to our other main striker, Walcott. I really hold my head in my hands when I even think about writing this piece. I had such high hopes for Theo at the start of the season. I think Wenger did too. He sanctioned a big salary, and he gave him the striker’s slot in the squad that Theo had cherished for so long. There were hiccups early in the season, and bad misses, but Walcott slowly established himself as our main striker.

He won the starting berth from Giroud, and seemed set to finally fulfil his destiny. He looked dangerous in behind (as ever) and managed to add some ability to hold the ball up when receiving it with his back to goal. Opposition defences looked uncomfortable defending against him. This was the kind of footballing alchemy that only Wenger can pull off.

I was feeling quite smug at this point, referring fellow Gooners to my summer posts that had suggested that this is exactly what would happen. I had even tipped Gooners, in one of my articles for Untold that they should back Walcott to win the Premier League golden boot (I know!). You will be glad to know that I put my money where my mouth was.

I don’t understand what happened next, or why. Let’s start with the chronology of events:

He was on the bench for a fairly meaningless League Cup third round match against Sheffield Wednesday in late October. He came on, after just five minutes, for the injured Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. A few minutes later, he went off again with a hamstring injury. The general assumption is that because he came on so early, he wasn’t properly warmed up. Certainly a hamstring injury can result from minimal warming-up.

He came back into the team in early December. He initially played on the left of the front three, effectively covering the injured Sanchez. This was a little odd as, I don’t remember Theo ever playing in this position before. The team went on quite a good run, including the away win at Olympiacos and the home win over Man City. Wenger is often reluctant to change a winning team, so Theo ended up with a long run on the left wing. He played OK during this run, but was not particularly impressive, and didn’t score many goals.

I was mystified during this run. I kept expecting Theo to get a game at striker. In hindsight, I remain confused. Giroud played every game in this spell, and ended up losing form through sheer exhaustion. He played 15 games in succession during the physically toughest period of the season (December to February). This is an average of a game every 4.9 days. Why didn’t Theo get a game at striker?

Part of the answer must be that Theo’s form was poor. Perhaps Wenger could see problems in training or his physical data, that suggested he shouldn’t play at no 9. Even so, this seems odd.

Walcott did get some substitute cameos as a striker. Was Wenger drawing conclusions from these unimpressive cameos? Surely Walcott merited a couple of starts at no 9, simply on the basis of the form he showed in that position earlier in the season. Strikers, more than any other position, need confidence. Wenger is good at putting his confidence in people, yet in this instance he failed to do so.

Walcott finally got a couple of starts in the striker position late February, in the FA Cup fifth round v Hull and then again away to Man U. This seemed mostly to rotate the out-of-form Giroud, who came back for the Barcelona game in-between. Neither were great performances and after that Welbeck seemed to be preferred as the alternative to Giroud. The Man U game was his last start of the season.

It almost seems like a dream to imagine that Theo was ever an efficient and effective no 9 for us, let alone that it happened just six months ago. In researching this article, I have had to go back and watch quite a few early season videos to convince myself that I was not going mad. And when you watch them, there he is, only he doesn’t look like the same player that we saw in the second half of the season. If you get a chance, have a look at the Bayern victory, where Walcott was superb, or the Man U win.

So what’s next?

I suspect that there is some untold story behind Walcott’s dramatic loss of form in the second half of the season. Whatever that story is, I don’t think its viable for Wenger to allocate him one of the primary striker slots in the squad. If we aim to enter next season with two main strikers, it seems likely that Giroud will be one of them.

It was possible that Wenger had Welbeck slated for the other slot. My feeling is that Welbeck’s scoring rate doesn’t quite justify that inclusion, but either way it is academic because Welbeck will not be available next season.

I don’t think that Wenger can gamble on the Walcott-Giroud pairing again (and fans may become mutinous if he does). To me, it was an understandable gamble for 15/16, but it didn’t work out well, and I think that it is not a credible way to go into the 16/17 season. It seems to me that, if Walcott is to have a future in the striker position, he is going to have to work his way past two men who start the season ahead of him. I don’t think that Akpom or Sanogo are ready to fill this gap, so I think we will need to turn to the transfer market.

The perils of buying a striker

It is worth remembering how rare it is for a striker acquisition to be successful. Have a look at the following list of top scorers in the 2015/16 Premiership:

  Goals Penalties Non-penalty goals
Harry Kane 25 5 20

Jamie Vardy




Sergio Aguero




Romelu Lukaku




Riyad Mahrez




Olivier Giroud




Odion Ighalo




Jermain Defoe




Alexis Sanchez




Troy Deeney




Not a single one of these players signed for their team in the summer of 2015. The top ten signings in the summer of 2015 were:

Purchasing Club


Selling Club

Transfer Fee (£m)

Man City

Kevin De Bruyne



Man City

Raheem Sterling



Man Utd

Anthony Martial



Man City

Nicolas Otamendi




Christian Benteke

Aston Villa



Roberto Firmino



Man Utd

Memphis Depay

PSV Eindhoven


Man Utd

Morgan Schneiderlin








Heung-Min Son 

Bayer Leverkusen


Obviously not all of these are strikers, but most of them are forwards, and this is quite a sobering list for someone who is setting out to acquire a top scoring striker. It strongly suggests that you could easily spend a lot of money and fail to acquire someone who will score more goals than Olivier Giroud.

In fact, it is very rare for a new striker to make a big impression in their first season at a new club. In recent years, Diego Costa was very good in the first half of the 2014/15 season, following his move from Atletico, but he has been quite average since. Sergio Aguero was effective in his first season in the Premiership (23 league goals).

Giroud got 11 in his first season, and Van Persie was temporarily successful after moving to Man U. Expensive failures in recent years are legion – Falcoa to Man Utd, Torres to Chelsea, Benteke to Liverpool, Carroll to Liverpool, Bony to City.


So, I suspect Arsenal will look to buy another striker for next season, because Wenger will not wish to repeat the Walcott-Giroud gamble. However, the chances of acquiring someone who will score a lot of goals in the Premiership are (I’m sorry to say) small. I suspect that this position will continue to be a problem next season.

Today Untold Arsenal commemorates the departure on this day in 1947, of George Allison after 37 years working with Arsenal, in roles ranging from programme editor to manager.


Recent Posts


Untold Arsenal has published five books on Arsenal – all are available as paperback and three are now available on Kindle.  The books are

  • The Arsenal Yankee by Danny Karbassiyoon with a foreword by Arsene Wenger.
  • Arsenal: the long sleep 1953 – 1970; a view from the terrace.  By John Sowman with an introduction by Bob Wilson.
  • Woolwich Arsenal: The club that changed football.  By Tony Attwood, Andy Kelly and Mark Andrews.
  • Making the Arsenal: a novel by Tony Attwood.
  • The Crowd at Woolwich Arsenal by Mark Andrews.

You can find details of all five on our new Arsenal Books page

28 comments to Strikers: the second Arsenal gamble of Summer 2015 (and will we buy this summer?)

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Nice article Tim , but many of your observations cannot be verified other than by AW himself. We will not be able to fathom his thinking or on why certain choices were made .
    I was personally hoping that Giroud would be like a battering ram , very much in the mold of the English Centre Forward of old . But his game is different.
    Wouldn’t mind him playing off Lukaku , or Bony .

  • Gunner6

    My belief is that nowadays, a striker’s true worth is not only his goals but his assist as well. Therefore, any comparison should be made on goals scored (including penalties as they are not easy top convert as many thinks) and assists.

    I don’t have the stats with me but I reckon Giroud’s overall contribution is worth much more than his detractors claim. Personally, I think that is why Wenger prefers him to Walcott. Even off form, Giroud tends to contribute in other areas.

    I still think Walcott will be useful to the team. As the above mentioned, his playing style improved in 2015/16 by playing with his back to the goal. I would not write him off yet.

    Finally, my gut feeling is we will not add another striker instead it will be an attacking midfielder. We need more goals from midfield and I feel that is where we fell down last season.


  • nicky

    With all his alleged faults, in my book Giroud is the best attacking header of a ball Arsenal have had for many years.
    The days when our corners and crosses were non-events, have disappeared whenever Giroud is on the field.r

  • Fishpie

    Good read Tim. Thank you. I agree Mr Wenger had to gamble last year by not going into the transfer market and it didn’t pay off, certainly not,as you point out, in the case of Theo. Poor Theo didn’t seem to understand either that if you are not on a good run of form, fans will still support you if you work hard on the pitch and put in a shift but he doesn’t seem to have that mentality either. There seemed to be so little fight in his performances. But then again, that could be said of the whole team at critical points in the season. Very strange vibe among the players at times.

    Another factor in getting a striker in this year might be the impact it will have on Ozil and Alexis. If it’s true (and who knows if it is) that these two guys are not extending their contracts because they remain unconvinced the club/team is making big enough strides for the top trophies, they may be waiting to see what Mr Wenger is able to do in the transfer market before committing , or (please, no) agitating.

  • Mick

    Rumours are rife surrounding the Morato situation but I cannot see Arsene spending the talked about figure of £42 million plus on a player who scored only nine goals last season. You would probably get that sort of return from Akpom. I see Wenger as more likely to attempt to find another unpolished diamond if he cannot tempt one of the top men.
    Given the paucity of available and/or affordable absolute top strikers I think a partial solution to our scoring problems needs to come from all the current players being less wasteful in converting chances. A contribution of a single goal from each of the players last season would have made a huge difference.

  • SamuelAkinsolaAdebosin

    No Sir! The striker position at Arsenal will not continue to be a problem in the soon coming 2016/17 season if the Boss sing-on the right striker for Arsenal.

    Of course, Olivier Giroud has been a top striker for Arsenal last season with 24 goals in all competitions. But his top was not top enough to win a title for us preferable the Barclays Premier League title or the Ucl like Real Madrid have recently won 1 out of the 2 big titles they had competed for.

    Giroud has always been one of my few favourite Gunners at Arsenal and he is still one of them. Szczsney is another one and of recent Campbell has won my heart with his able to take on defenders and scheme & wriggle past them to seize up the goalkeeper or pass to his approaching mate (Walcott?) to hit the back of the net. The Boss looked not to have exploited the Campbell/Walcott partnerships axis sufficiently last season. I think he only tried this axis once at the Ems when he brought them on as substitutes and it worked.

    I like Walcott. He used to be one of my favourites Gunners at Arsenal. But he disappointed me with his lackluster performance for Arsenal later on last season. Hence, I’ve cool-off on him for now. I think that big Acl injury caused to him by Danny Rose is still having some effects on his sustainable top level performance he used to have. But I think if the Boss had played him as striker and partner Campbell with him on the left wing, he may have performed better that he did last season. That was another option to the Sanchez/Giroud axis partnerships which the Boss didn’t exploit as a rotation option last season because of the insistence of Sanchez to play every Arsenal match when he’s fit. (a selection problem for the boss?).

    Enough of my what the Boss should have done last season. It doesn’t look as if one of Sanogo & Akpom are ready yet to step in into the striker role for Arsenal as cover or option to Giroud this coming season. But I think one of Mavididi & Willock should be given a chance by the Boss next season to shine as a Rashford in the senior Arsenal team. While the Boss should continue to search for that marquee striker to sign at the market. Vardy or Morata? Any of these 2 should be okay for Arsenal more especially the former in my own thinking. Would the Boss raid Leicester? Lukaku wants to go Back to Chelsea according to reports. So we can forget about him.

  • Tom

    Good article Tim.

    Asking for a single goal from all Arsenal outfield players is not how football works. Barring set pieces, when central defenders with aerial prowess are encouraged to go forward, the team has to keep shape at all times.

    “I need at least one goal from every player in the squad” is one sentence never spoken by any professional manager. That I can assure you of.

  • para

    We should have a striker type of player, but unless he is defensive minded also, there will be a hole in the defence (see Walcott).

    The midfield are all scorers too, and must sometimes be selfish instead of taking that last pass that usually gets intercepted, willing to accept the shouts if it does not pan out. (So target practice in shooting must be a regular part of training i would assume, and i would think that players wouls work on their weaknesses by themselves too).

    But this all depends on how the team is playing as a whole that day. Closing down and upsetting the attack of the opposition allows our goal scorers to get more time on the ball.

    Make no doubt that PL will be tougher next season as the rich buy the “super stars” and Arsenal is going to have to be much more versatile, strong and determined.

  • Mick

    Thanks for your condescending comment.
    I did not mean it literally for goodness sake, the point I made was that the goal input could and should have been a lot better from the non strike force part of the team.

  • Andy Mack

    When opposing teams defend on their 18 yard line it’s difficult to break them down even when they aren’t a well drilled team. One of the ways to get close enough for a shot is to have quick footed players playing off CF. In recent years DW, Ozil, Theo, Alexis, Jack, TR and Ramsey have all scored a few plying 1-2s in the box with Giroud (Jack hasn’t scored as many as he should have but he was getting better). This season our midfield/wing have been really poor doing this. All these players were either injured or under performed in this area of the field.
    Giroud is a decent PL striker giving more to the team than those above him in the scorer table, but he doesn’t inspire the confidence that many of the others do.
    He does occasionally make his own goals but not enough for the team to know he could pull them out of a hole and is generally really unlucky with the Refs. How many penalties should he have won for us with a decent ref?
    Whereas Aguero is very much a top player and inspires the team.
    At the moment we’re waiting to see if Vardy is a 29 year old one hit wonder or not. He’s had 3 seasons at Leicester of poor/good/poor before this amazing season, but such form does inspire others, although we don’t know if that will continue next season.
    Kane is a very hard worker that’s been lucky with the refs and injuries, but again, such form does inspire others.

    Really a couple of penalties won by Giroud, a couple of extra goals assisted by Giroud and a couple of extra goals by him, then we’d be discussing how close we came to the PL title or how close Leicester came to taking our title, rather than how far we are from it points-wise.
    But we’d still be looking for a top striker to become available.

  • Josif

    Excellent piece Tim. Love the Dickens one.

    Mr Wenger himself has said once that we were in for a striker who could play with or without Giroud. Suarez was the prime target in the summer 2013, Demba Ba was a last-minute shot that was rejected by The Moaning One. Then we signed Alexis in the summer 2014 and it could be easily taken as a signing of a striker. Alexis played as a striker for Chile with Vargas as a Sturridge to Alexis’ Suarez. My guess is as good as anyone else’s but I think Mr Wenger decided to move Alexis down the wing instead of Ozil/Cazorla in order to avoid Nacho/Gibbs being outnumbered by the overlapping opponents. Still, Alexis has scored 42 goals in two seasons despite playing mostly on the wing which is a more than a decent return.

    We signed Welbeck after Giroud had broken his foot against Everton. Welbeck’s return (8 goals in total, 4 in the league, conversion rate of less than 10%) was poor comparing to Giroud’s superb post-injury purple patch that saw him banging goals for fun until our game against Burnley, Henry’s stupid criticism of Giroud and beginning of our generally poor home goal-record starting with that 0:0 draw against Chelsea that had lasted until the third home match this season.

    I agree with you about Theo’s injury at Sheffield. He had played a huge role in our fantastic run of five victories in which we scored 16 goals and conceded three but then we entered that bloody November. He hasn’t been the same player ever since.

    Giroud is a 12 million pound paid striker who plays like, say, 20 million pound paid one. His physical presence is indispensable for us and aerial prowess makes our defending better. As our plan B he is a perfect option as his knock downs for Theo against Leicester, Welbeck against Norwich and Ozil against Bournemouth prove. We need someone better than him in the final third though. He wastes too many good chances and regularly has a barren spell that effectively kills off our title challenge.

    Theo is a similar story, except he can play on the wing. His technique is still too poor which is unacceptable for a player who has been at Arsenal for over a decade.

    Welbeck is injured again and I’m afraid it’s over for him. Two serious knee injuries in such a short space of time could prove to be fatal for Danny. Falcao – usually mocked here by less informed Untolders who hadn’t noticed that his career went South only after an ACL injury – used to be a 30-40 goal striker before his knee took the sting out of him.

    Internal solutions like emergence of Akpom, Sanogo or even a transformation of, say, Wilshere in a new Messi-type of a striker are unlikely to happen even if Akpom’s long-term friendship leaves a feeling we could get a special partnership in a few years.

    That leaves us with an external solution. Lukaku could be our guy but we could learn his fate by tomorrow.

    I don’t buy the whole “Arsene won’t go for Ibra due to his baggage”-story because Mr Wenger had tried to sign Suarez who was biting opponents left and right. He also gambled, to stay within the title of the topic, with Overmars (injured knee) and Kanu (heart condition at Inter Milan) and both of those paid off. Adebayor and RvP brought a heavy burden to Arsenal each as well but Mr Wenger made them look like world-class strikers.

    I have my doubts about Aubameyang and Morata. The latter is a more intelligent, more Wenger-esque player than the former but Auba scores more goals.

    Janssen is another option but I can’t recall if we have signed a player from Eredivisie since RvP.

  • Andy Mack

    Josif, Didn’t Vermaelen come from Ajax?
    I can’t see AW getting Ibra purely because he’s 34 and not really a team player.
    At PSG he has the benefit of only having to try during a game against the 3 or 4 top French teams, or when he can see himself scoring a bag full of goals in a game. Against some of the smaller teams it would be quite easy to forget he’s there if the TV didn’t spend so much time looking at him wandering around.
    He couldn’t do that in the PL.
    If Suarez was 34 I don’t believe we’d try to buy him either.
    Too much potential for a career finishing injury.

  • Rich

    Another massive thing in Giroud’s favour is his physical robustness. Very rarely injured and even a broken leg didn’t keep him out for long.

    I like him a lot, think he’s a very good player, and I loathe the growing habit of calling people shit,etc, who happen not to be the very best. Giroud is not close to Messi or Henry, but he’s a lot closer to them than he is to being a poor player.

    However, I’m pretty desperate for us to find another high quality option up front.

    At present, I’m obsessed, rightly I think, with our capabilities of breaking down packed defences, and while there’s always hope for some improvement with our current options, a big leap forward doesn’t seem likely, and I believe that’s what we need- a big leap- for ultimate success.

    Correct refereeing would allow us such a leap- Giroud, for instance, would likely get another 3-5 headers if defenders weren’t allowed total liberty to hold him in the box- but that’s not going to happen.

    I had a look at some of our games on Arsenal player up to the new year, looking to see what our first goals are like, especially against the bus, and the surprise is very few of them actually seem to be against the bus, not when it’s set in open play.

    There are more set-pieces than I remember, and most of the rest are on breaks or half-breaks, a few of these where we capitalise on mistakes. The closest one, aside from set-pieces, to being against an organised defence with numbers back might just be Walcott’s against City. In the same game, Toure gave an example of one way to do it- scoring a beauty when we had nearly everyone back and in place.

    Another eye-catching moment was the penalty, Theo again, on a half-break, against Villa. As Leicester can testify, it’s a great way to break a deadlock. Again, though, forget about that.

    Weird to look back on the games like that and not what I was expecting (I’d have guessed at seeing a number of goals scored against teams who were set and had everyone back).

    Don’t know what to conclude from it exactly, apart from how crucial set-pieces were, that Giroud was typically the man from them, that our fans should show a lot of patience against the bus (because, unfortunately, it takes time and you may have to wait until they make a mistake or dare to try attack)

    Mainly, though, I’m still where I was in thinking we need to be better at defeating the bus when it is in shape, and I find it hard to picture our existing players making a big enough improvement at it.

    Don’t ask me who we can bring in, though. All I know on that is there is a paucity of options and the market is a bitch.

    Nabil Fekir is my wildcard. Depending, of course, on what sort of recovery he has made from his serious knee injury. He was on the verge of joining the ranks of the extraordinary before injury struck.

  • SamuelAkinsolaAdebosin

    @Andy Mack, Jamie Vardy is a the kind who is a specially gifted stamina player whose playing form doesn’t slowdown quickly at old age. He looks to be a spice to be found in every 1000 players. He looks rugged and slim built and carry with him a lot of pace, power and goals scoring techniques.

    I am not a scout for Arsenal but I don’t mind being one here and free of charge too.

    With this long absence of Welbeck, I can suspect that Arsenal right-wing could still be a problem in this coming season with Walcott, Ramsey, Wilshere & Iwobi all slated by the Boss to individually manned that position at some stages during the season. But going by the injury records of the 1st trio and the inexperience of Iwobi, how effective would the 4 players be for Arsenal goals scoring-wise, assists and in top-form on a sustainable level during the long season campaign?

    Harry Kane allegiance and high selling price by Spurs is a no go area for us despite his being a childhood Gooner. But Jose Mourinho may price him away from Spurs to Man Utd. Vardy’s being a 29 or 30 years old player shouldn’t be a problem for Arsenal to sign him if Morata becomes too expensive to be signed. If the Ucl playing Leicester are prepared to let him go at a moderate fee and he too to wants to leave and come to Arsenal. I think Vardy who operates mostly from the right wing as a striker leading the line for Leicester, but he does operate too centrally. The Boss could sign him. He looks to give Arsenal a minimum of 20 goals in all competitions as a good option and cover to the 24 goals in all competitions Giroud.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Thanks Tim.
    Have often wondered if Giroud was some sort of Bendtner replacement….perhaps not as naturally talented as the Dane, but more than his equal in just about all other qualities.
    I like Giroud as a player, and admire him as a person, I am convinced, with the aid of club staff, he has made himself the very best he can be…not all can say that.
    Would also be absolutely amazed if we didnt see another striker type player this summer…maybe even a loan. Morata could be a smokescreen for someone else, doubt if they would pay what is being asked for Lukaku…but maybe the Dutch and Colombian forwards we are being linked with could be possibilities?
    Theo….strange, as you say, there could be something we dont know about…or maybe he was just missing Cazorla….like a lot of people?

  • Tom

    “A contribution of a single goal from each of the players would’ve made a huge difrence last year”

    No kidding!

    Why write what you don’t mean then?
    Or sugest ( semi-literally) something that has never happened in professional football in any top division ,should happen at Arsenal in order to get the goal tally up.

    I have another solution. Why not just keep all clean sheets and this way eliminate the need for top goal scorers. 🙂

  • Andy Mack

    Samuel, Vardy is just as prone to injury as any other 29 year old player. His form in the past season was helped greatly by sympathetic referees and the confidence of his team mates had allowed the first time ball to him or Mahrez which meant they could break so quickly. AFC are rarely in the position to play ‘on the break’ as we usually go out to win rather than ‘not lose’ as the Leicester team were mainly set up for.
    In my opinion Vardy is potentially another Jeffers. A player that looked good in an operation that he’s spent 3 years learning but not able to change his game even marginally for the next team he goes to.
    I could be wrong but it would be a very expensive gamble on a 29 year old.

  • Mick

    It is perfectly plain to anyone with half a brain what I was getting at.

  • SamuelAkinsolaAdebosin

    @Andy Mack, Jamie Vardy is a the kind who is a specially gifted stamina player whose playing form doesn’t slowdown quickly at old age. He looks to be a rarity to be found in every 1000 players. He looks rugged and slimly built and carries with him a lot of pace, power and goals scoring techniques ability.

    I am not a scout for Arsenal but I don’t mind being one here and free of charge too.

    With this long absent of Welbeck, I can suspect that Arsenal right-wing could still be a problem in this coming season with Walcott, Ramsey, Wilshere & Iwobi all slated by the Boss to individually manned that position at some stages during the season. But going by the injury records of the 1st trio and the inexperience of Iwobi, how effective would the 4 players be for Arsenal goals scoring-wise, assists and in keeping in top-form on a sustainable level during the in-coming long season campaign which could be more competitive than the last one we had?

    Harry Kane allegiance and high selling price by Spurs is a no go area for us despite his being a childhood Gooner. But Jose Mourinho may price him away from Spurs to Man Utd. Vardy being a 29 years old player shouldn’t be a problem for Arsenal to sign him if Morata becomes too expensive and cumbersome to be signed. If the Ucl playing Leicester are prepared to let Vardy go at a moderate fee and he too wants to leave and would not mind to come to Arsenal. I think Vardy who operates mostly from the right wing as a striker leading the line for Leicester, but he does operate centrally too. The Boss could sign him. He looks to give Arsenal a minimum of 20 goals in all competitions. He should be a good option and cover to the 24 goals in all competitions Giroud.

  • Andy Mack

    Samuel, yes you said that already and I said I think we would be wrong to gamble on him.

  • Polo

    Another great article Tim, thank you.

    I don’t think AW gambled last season, I believe he had a lot of faith in his current strikers and midfield players to score the goals, they all can score goals when in form. Ramsay, Jack, Cazorla, Alexis, Ozil, Giroud, Danny, Campbell, and Theo all can score goals but unfortunately Jack, Cazorla, Danny, Theo, and Alexis was injured for lengthy period, add in Ramsay being a bit under par and Giroud went AWOL for 15 matches ( I think partially he was angry with being subbed off in the home match against Chelsea) that’s a lot of goal potential being missed out which was unforeseen.

    I personally think Giroud can be up there with the best strikers in the world if he somehow find a way to be more consistent and clinical with the chances provided. In my opinion, I think he is almost a complete striker, he can hold up play, good in the air, he has strength to bully defenders (I hated when he seek out for free kicks by dropping on the ground easily), provide assists to other players, and can turn and shoot in tight space. I’m just astounded by the negativity towards him, he deserves more respect in my opinion.

    I also believe Theo can be up there with the best strikers if he can somehow avoid getting injured when he is in form. I think whenever he is in form and start scoring goals he then unfortunately gets injured and then he lose that goal scoring momentum, and after a while he lose confidence.

    Should we sell Giroud and Theo? No because I believe both can play a major part in our attacking options. Do we need another striker? I believe yes, as we need another top striker to not only be more consistent in front of goal but also to compete with the current crop and hopefully it put pressure on them to be more consistent and also as a back up if any of the strikers are out of form or is injured. I mean we have a lot of mid-field players so we should have a fair amount of strikers too. I think Giroud, Theo, Danny, and another striker is sufficient, I also believe AW should give some of the young strikers a chance in some of the matches as subs to see if they can be like Rashford.

    I think AW will sign a striker as the tone from the start of last season is different to now. He mention about getting a striker to fill in for Danny whereas start of last season he mention he has enough strikers. I have a feeling he will only sign two players one is Xhaka and the other is a striker. I think he will keep Chambers and put him as a back up CB, after seeing Chambers played as CB for the under 21 in Toulon.

  • bjtgooner

    Another article based on too many assumptions and attempts to second guess AW. Not a sound way to construct an article.

    I didn’t like the first sentence – which referred to a previous article which discussed the two “gambles” taken by AW – however your articles, this one and the previous one, did not prove that AW did indeed take a gamble.

    I don’t like that sort of writing – too close in character to that of our lazy media.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Not a striker, and one for Sir Hardly Anyone……but some saying we are close to Ricardo Rodriguez from Wolfsburg

  • Amit

    Good article Tim very good analysis on Striker problem.If Arsene is looking for a striker my humble opinion he should go for Victor Jensen the dutch International he has pace clinical in finishing and he is at the right age group which Arsen prefers and would not be a big gamble and he might take a season or two but if it comes off we have a real star on our hands and will solve the striking problem for the future.

  • Morale

    if we are going for a wild card striking option;
    for me it’s Jansen Victor all the way. I like his no-lost-course attitude to goal scoring. some of his goals were scored while seemingly chasing lost courses. I keep imagining him and Alexis up front. being two footed is also a plus (cazorla a prime example). at 21, it’s a no brainer for me.

  • crazy gunner

    I have always felt that the criticism of OG has been unjustified..there’s the old saying that you get what you pay for!…OG cost arsenal £10.9m …before you begin to criticise Giroud…I want you to show me 3 £10m strikers over the last 10yrs anywhere in europe that have scored 24 goals in a season..or an average of 20 goals a season

    We all know OG is not good enough to be the main striker for arsenal…but is that his fault?…he was always bought as a support striker but found himself through no fault of his as the main striker …

    He is a good squad player who will give you 20 goals a season and thats about it…and I tell you OG has more than repaid his transfer fee…so all you grovelling fans had better be grateful!!

    He is not my favourite player he is at best a back up striker… the blame fairly lies at the feet of the man who is being paid £8m a year to provide the world class striker befitting of a club like arsenal!..

  • Crazy Gunner, there is another way of seeing this. If we had two wingers (Alexis and maybe Campbell) who could really do the business all season, Giroud would get more goals, because the defenders would be drawn towards the wingers. Or if not, then the wingers would score even more.

  • omgarsenal

    Let us not forget we have Xhaka in midfield (defensive or attacking) and that will likely modify who we need up front. Giroud needs a stable strike partner and alternate but perhaps its too soon to write off Walcott just yet. Knowing Wenger from past experience and his own statements, we will likely find a relative unknown, perhaps even on loan, who will help stabilize the front line. Xhaka is a great distributor of the ball to the left wing particularly and that means a lot of great service to either Sanchez,Cazorla or Campbell perhaps. I believe Akpom can also play there.