Why it could be a mistake for Arsenal to buy a new centre forward

By Sir Hardly Anyone

Our last three defeats (Manchester United, Everton and Manchester City) have all been by one goal.   This is in contrast to our first four defeats in which we failed to score and conceded 13 (Brentford, Chelsea, Manchester City, Liverpool).

So clearly Arsenal has improved.  We are still sometimes getting beaten, but when we are it is by just one goal.  Of course we don’t want to lose at all, but the fact is we are clearly progressing.   Just as it should be.

Yet there is endless chatter about our seemingly desperate need for a striker.  But do we need one?   We are after all still the fifth top-scoring team in the league this season.   And across the last ten league games, Arsenal are the third top-scoring team in the league which suggests we are improving.

By comparison, we have the seventh-best defence in the league – a defence that suffered from being completely new at the start of the season.  (Incidentally without anyone allowed to look at the league table we had a quick in-house quiz on which two teams had the best defences in the league.  Everyone got Manchester City as one of the two, but no one got the second.

The answer is Wolverhampton.  Bit of a trick because they have only played 18 games, but even so rather impressive.  And showing as ever that no one characteristic gets a club into the top four.

But now, if we narrow the situation down to the last ten games, which is helpful since it means excluding the period when all our new players at the back were getting used to each other, we see this

Last 10 games by goals conceded
Lge Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
9 Wolverhampton Wanderers 10 3 4 3 5 6 -1 13
1 Manchester City 10 10 0 0 31 7 24 30
4 Tottenham H 10 5 3 2 14 8 6 18
2 Liverpool 10 6 2 2 23 10 13 20
3 Arsenal 10 6 0 4 21 12 9 18
5 Chelsea 10 4 5 1 18 12 6 17

After all the money spent last summer on buying a new defence, I can’t imagine we are going to buy any more defenders.  And although we have only the fifth-best defence in the league in the last ten games, it is a time when we have been losing games.  By which I mean to say we have not been losing by that much, compared with what happened earlier in the season.

But as we have been trying to point out several times of late, although the media are packed silly with notions of which centre forward we are going to buy, our position in terms of goal scoring is not that bad.  Here again is the table for the last ten league games in order of goals scored…

Last 10 games by goals scored
Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Manchester City 10 10 0 0 31 7 24 30
2 Liverpool 10 6 2 2 23 10 13 20
3 Arsenal 10 6 0 4 21 12 9 18
5 Chelsea 10 4 5 1 18 12 6 17
8 Leicester City 10 4 2 4 18 19 -1 14
7 West Ham United 10 4 2 4 17 16 1 14
4 Tottenham Hotsp. 10 5 3 2 14 8 6 18
6 Manchester United 10 5 2 3 14 16 -2 17

So we are the third top scoring team across the last ten games.  But who scored our 21 goals in the last ten league games?

Date Match Res Score Goals from…
7 Nov 2021 Arsenal v Watford W 1-0 Smith Rowe
20 Nov 2021 Liverpool v Arsenal L 4-0
27 Nov 2021 Arsenal v Newcastle United W 2-0 Saka, Martinelli
2 Dec 2021 Manchester United v Arsenal L 3-2 Smith Rowe, Odegaard
6 Dec 2021 Everton v Arsenal L 2-1 Odegaard
11 Dec 2021 Arsenal v Southampton W 3-0 Lacazette, Odegaard, Gabriel
15 Dec 2021 Arsenal v West Ham United W 2-0 Martinelli, Smith Rowe
18 Dec 2021 Leeds United v Arsenal W 1-4 Martinelli (2), Saka, Smith Rowe
26 Dec 2021 Norwich City v Arsenal W 0-5 Saka (2), Tierney, Lacazette, Smith Rowe
1 Jan 2022 Arsenal v Manchester City L 1-2 Saka

Thus to summarise in our last ten games – a period in which we are third in the league, and have included games against three of the “big six” (so not a disproportionately easy run) we have scored 21 goals (the third highest for the period).   They have been scored by

  • Smith Rowe (5)
  • Saka (5)
  • Martinelli (4)
  • Odegaard (3)
  • Lacazette (2)
  • Gabriel (1)
  • Tierney (1)

So we are a club for whom one of those scorers just got two goals is looking like leaving.  Obviously, I am referring to Lacazette, and asking, is his departure that big a problem?

I am not suggesting we don’t need a number nine, if for nothing other than to occupy the defenders while Smith Rowe, Saka and Martinelli score.   But I am not sure we need a classic number nine dominating the attack.

Certainly, if Auba comes back he is going to disrupt the left wing as that is where he plays, which means Martinelli gets moved – and I think that would be a shame.  No, I think we need a number nine who stays in the middle, distracts the defenders and allows the others to score.  A bit like… Lacazette.


3 Replies to “Why it could be a mistake for Arsenal to buy a new centre forward”

  1. First, I agree that a Lacazette-type CF is needed, in order for our Magnificent Four to shine brightly.
    Eddie has improved his link-up/hold-up play an awful lot lately, @chris so I certainly wouldn’t mind his being handed Laca’s berth in the team – but it looks like Eddie wants to change the scenery …
    Laca’s obvious heir-apparent at the club is Folarin, but he was tense the other day against Sunderland and with more composure should have scored that header in the first half
    So that now, I’m afraid he’ll be loaned out; this is something I just can’t get my head around: we can wait 14 months for a £50m DM to deliver, at long last, a top-notch performance (and that it certainly was), but we can’t give a dozen games to one of our lads, in order for him to find his feet …
    Now there’s already a buybuybuy frenzy going on, so who could it be?
    Haaland’s a no-brainer of course, but what will the number on the price-tag be?
    I watched a little of Vlahovic at Fiorentina; he’s impressive, as good as only some South-American players, or some guys from what used to be the “socialist block” can be, the little I saw of him was eerily reminiscent of Davor Sucker at his best actually.
    A top-class finisher he is without a doubt, but I’m not sure he fits in with the “Laca” blueprint
    A lad I wouldn’t mind being brought back to North London is Donyell Malen. He had a truly brilliant spell at PSV and in the Dutch national team; it doesn’t look like he’s been outstanding at Dortmund so far. I saw him only in the CL return game at Ajax, but Dortmund were completely outplayed-outclassed, he played on the left-wing where he didn’t look comfortable at all, and was taken out after a while … Haaland was far from being great that day too
    Lastly, there’s … Martial. He’s about to get away from OT where he’s been made to play mainly on the west wing
    That was a mistake, he’s the last lad to have come out from the Lyon academy after being taught the CF job the Bernard Lacombe way – just like Laca.
    His very best games with “Les Bleus ” were in that very position, with precisely that hold-up/link-up role; he’s only 26 (and is, and will remain, a very decent goalscorer)
    We’ll see …

  2. It is odd that Arsenal, who have two of the best strikers in the league, and one very good, up and coming striker on the books; are desperate for a striker.

    Aubameyang’s situation smells like a manufactured crisis designed to give the club cover as they try to wriggle out of paying out for the Gabon man’s wages. So typical of Arsenal; get a player who is preparing to leave to stay by offering big money, then, before the ink is dry on the contract, break all those promises about playing time and security. The club did the same to Maitland-Niles; convincing him to stay, then never playing him. Nketiah was convinced to stay, and immediately found himself glued to the bench. Aubameyang had all sorts of options before he signed his last contract with Arsenal; but the Gunners went all out to keep him.Not 18 months later, here he is, getting forced from the team.

    A lot of clubs, Chelsea notably, and Arsenal, before the current regime, have policies in place regarding long-term deals with players over 30. They don’t do it. Those contracts are risky because players who get injured at that age come back slower and frequently never regain previous form. When they do begin to fade, that decline is often precipitous. Arsenal not only signed the deal, they practically begged Aubameyang to sign it. Now he’s being pushed out of the team; just as Mesut Ozil was pushed out after signing a big contract. Neither of these issues stem from football; they are about money and the team and manager’s lack of integrity. Any top player considering a move to Arsenal should take a good, long look at how the club treats its players.

    As far as the statistical gymnastics ‘proving’ Arsenal are the third best (tied for third, actually) defensive club in the league, selectively eliminating games is a form of evidence tampering – allowing the jury to see only evidence suggesting guilt, not evidence that proves innocence.

    Last season, across 38 games, the Arsenal defense, Bellerin, David Luiz, Rob Holding, and Kieran Tierney (and others); was the third best in the league based on goals against. This season to date, based on that same measure, Arsenal’s defense is 7th best; behind Man City, Chelsea, Liverpool, Wolves, Tottenham and Brighton. That’s a worse performance, not a better one. As far as goals go, Arsenal this term are 4th best in scoring, well behind, you guessed it; Man City, Chelsea, Liverpool.

    The premise of the story; Arsenal are a better team than last year, has some validity, but with three of the club’s four strikers likely to leave (unless they are complete idiots) based on their treatment by the club, Arsenal do need at least two strikers. Why any of the top players would sign for the club would be a mystery, especially when highly paid players are routinely scapegoated by the fans and the management.

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