Lopez, Zaha, Goetze and more, which wide man should Arsenal target?

Quick post, mostly to spark discussion rather than for me to give you an answer. Everyone seems assured that their solution to Arsenal’s problem is the right one, and I agree with them all. Could Arsenal buy another starting forward like Cavani and relegate Giroud to the bench or play him as part of a 4-4-2? Sure. That might work wonders. Could Arsenal buy a decent backup to Giroud, Llorente let’s say, and have him come off the bench or play when Arsenal need to give the Frenchman a rest? I can see an argument for that. Could Arsenal take a player like Cazorla and move him to the wings, thus allowing the team to play two forwards instead of three? Or let Rosicky take Cazorla’s place and Cazorla be the wing player that we all know that Arsenal need? Yep and yep.

All good suggestions, all doable with key purchases, and all may or may not help the club win something this season. Let’s take the example du jour, Demba Ba. I’ve seen it written that if Arsenal don’t try to buy Ba it would be the equivalent of malfeasance on the part of the Arsenal board. That’s how much of a no-brainer purchase Demba Ba is for £7m plus salary demands. What I’ve seen from Ba so far in his career is a player who plays hot for six months, then takes six months off. He did it last year before Cisse arrived, scoring 15 goals before the ACN and just 1 goal after. It’s not a case that he didn’t get shots, he had 49 shots and just one goal, including games where he had 8 shots and 6 shots without a goal. He also managed to go that entire time with just one assist. He did something similar the season before with Hoffenheim, this time it was over a contract dispute.

But maybe I’m wrong, maybe he was being played out of position last year, maybe he was right to agitate for a move to West Ham, and maybe he should get the starting nod over Giroud. I’m ok with those arguments. But are you ok with the counter argument that paying £7m for a 27 year old, who cannot pass a physical, who has a history of coasting through seasons, who has agitated twice for bigger paydays, and who wants a five year deal worth £80k a week might be the exact kind of contract stupidity that people bemoan when it comes to players like Diaby? It’s a big gamble, a £28m gamble using the numbers above.

Personally, I don’t think Arsenal need a forward. I think the club has three forwards and besides which everyone wants to play centrally anyway. Need a pacy player who can come off the bench and go at tired opposition or can be the small in a big-small partnership? Walcott has 9 goals and 6 assists in Premier League and Champions League play. Need a handful up front to win aerials and give options on crosses? Olivier Giroud has 7 goals and 5 assists in the two leagues. Need a backup forward who can play wide, can play alone up front and whose hallmark is efficiency? Podolski has 9 goals and 7 assists for Arsenal.

Between those three players, Arsenal should have the forward position covered, but only if Arsenal buy a player who can play wide because right now those three all start and Podolski and Walcott are Arsenal’s nominal wide men, wide men who coincidentally all like to occupy the same place on the pitch, the penalty spot.

There’s no doubting that Arsenal lack width and a player with pace and trickery to get past the opposition down the wings. Especially one who then doesn’t mind staying wide and playing in a cross. Ox is our only player who actually likes playing out wide and he’s good at dribbling but still not great at crossing, Arshavin doesn’t seem to like playing at all, and Theo only plays wide because the boss tells him to. Walcott’s not great at dribbling but but he’s actually good at crossing as shown by the assist for Giroud’s header against Newcastle.

Meanwhile, Gervinho can dribble but he can’t cross and that leaves it up to the fullbacks (Sagna and Gibbs) to provide the crosses. Gibbs has been playing well the last few games and that uptick in form has him up to 11 successful crosses in the League this year, less than one a game.

Before I’m accused of wanting to turn the team into Liverpool, I need to say that I’m not obsessed with crosses. They are not the be-all-end-all of football, that’s the through ball (only half joking). But the problem with Arsenal’s “wing” players is that they tend to dribble inside too much and leave the crossing up to the fullbacks, this is part of what makes Arsenal’s game predictable.

Arsenal have a player who can dribble and cross, his name is Cazorla. And now that I’ve said that we must do the mental calculus of deciding whether moving him from the hole to the wing is the best thing for the team and something that the player wouldn’t think of as a demotion. Moreover what formation do you use? A 4-4-2? Sure! Who’s the ball winning center mid? Ettiene Capoue! I can accept all these arguments and yet none of them at the same time.

As you can see, any change is sort of like Dr. Tyrell explaining to Roy Batty why he can’t just mutate his DNA and give him more life.

What if you move Cazorla to the wing?
Yes, and then play Rosicky in the hole. But why demote Cazorla when he’s playing so well there, why not buy a real wide player and let Cazorla be the creative force in the middle and use Rosicky as his legitimate backup, that would be less disruptive to the system.
What if we buy Cavani and use Giroud as a backup?
It’s a good plan for the point in the 4-3-3 but doesn’t address the problem that Arsenal are playing with three center forwards and no real wide players thus necessitating the fullbacks to play as wingers and forcing Arsenal to play high up the pitch at all times… but this, all of this is academic. You were made as well as we could make you.


My position is simple, let’s get in a wide player this January. Someone who can dribble and cross. Someone who has the touch to not turn the ball over a lot and who has the vision to play through balls. He should also be able to pass well overall not demand a lot of shots (because there are none left!) and if he’s going to cost us a golden calf, better be young enough to be worth it.

You can pick anyone you want, except Adrian Lopez. My pick would be Goetze but I’m guessing that Arsenal are going to take Zaha instead and like everything else, I can see an argument for him. 20 years old, 5 goals, 3 assists, English. Yep, Zaha,

Oh, and let’s get Theo Walcott signed up.


43 thoughts on “Lopez, Zaha, Goetze and more, which wide man should Arsenal target?

  1. Vote -1 Vote +1ArseChicago

    Ha, this is a “short” post? First off, happy new years to you and all the Gooner readers. Second, I completely agree with you on striker. We have 3 upfront with Walcott, Giroud, Poldi. Get a wing player, in addition to Zaha who it sounds we’re in good position on. I’d love Goetze, Tim, but I think we’ve fallen in stature too much the last few years to really represent a step up in class from Borussia Dortmund. If he really wants to come to England, I fear we’d lose out to United or City for his signature. I really don’t think he’s realistic for us. I’ve said it before, my first preference would be Schurrle based on the little I’ve seen of him. I’ve also seen Turan’s name today, but I’d ask why would Atletico sell him in the middle of the season with them in great position to finish above Real Madrid in 2nd place this season. Would make no sense now, but perhaps the offseason. Anyone know anything about Dries Mertens? He apparently rates as the best left winger in Eredivisie. A possibility? Anyway, if Theo ends up leaving us, I say we then target a big 30MM pound splash on a striker (Lewandowski, for example) in the summer. I think what’s given Arsenal the biggest problem this season is getting the ball forward, particularly against teams that press. A wide man with great dribbling and passing skills, great pace, would be ideal for us. Additionally, a versatile defensive player (DM and back 4) would be ideal. Yanga Mbiwa from Montpellier for me. We make at least 2 purchases this January – Zaha or another winger, and a DM that can spell Arteta and can play in the back 4. While striker’s the sexy position and the one everyone is demanding, I think it makes sense to wait on this, particularly if we do think Theo can be our upfront guy. If Theo bombs out the rest of the year, let him walk and buy another striker.

  2. Vote -1 Vote +1Tim Post author

    Bayer turned down a £22m bid for Schurrle by Chelsea this summer.

    Dries Martens is 5’2″ or something, and is playing well in the Europa League, I ruled him out because of his size.

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1ArseChicago

      I remember that, but it’s my thought that we can and should make that size a transfer purchase 25MM-30MM. I think we were ready to pay Lille 30MM+ for Hazard and ready to pay Dortmund 30+ for Goetze, so I believe there’s an openness to the concept. He would certainly qualify as a marquee signing, as would Lewandowski.

      1. Vote -1 Vote +1santori

        Remy Cabella, Arda Turan, Jesus Navas, all petite players with good ball skill.

        But I do think we need a striker first and foremost and preferably one who can cover out wide too.

        That said, we should be looking for a pace man with good technical skills and vision in and around the box and those are few and far in between.

      2. Vote -1 Vote +1santori

        Cos you could always do the crazy, sell Liverpool Walcott to pair with a recalled Carroll by offering Chamakh to big Sam. In return take Suarez.

  3. Vote -1 Vote +1Wang

    Agree, Götze is the dream signing but I’m skeptical that Arsenal would spend as much as he’ll cost on a player – even with the cash infusion from our new shirt & stadium deals. He likely represents a 2-3x expenditure over our record signings. Though I did have a sneaking suspicion/wild hope that a minor rationale behind signing Poldi after Big PerM was to lay the groundwork to attract Götze with his fellow Germans whispering in his ear (think he still lives with his parents & this could help the comfort factor).

    Realistically, we’ll get Zaha. In fantasyland we’ll get both!

    Do think we need the “DM,” aka M’Villa. Not only does he spell Arteta, but adds flexibility with the opportunity to play said DM and Arteta at the same time with Miki further forward, if needed (to rest Santi/Jack or simply for a change of pace). Arteta has shown he still has that attacking instinct. Yes, Capoue is also an option and some would say better, but one twist I like with M’Villa – being banned from the France team until 2014 means a player focused on his club and not at risk of injury while away on needless international duties.

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1santori

      Gotze is extremely unlikely. We have a good player from Dortmund developing in Eisfeld.

      One reason I’d prefer Capoue over MVilla is the added height which we will need (in Diaby’s absence) to combat such types as Fellaini.

      The other reason would be that whilst Mvilla is a tidy defensive player, Capoue also adds a dimension going forward.

      1. Vote -1 Vote +1santori

        Another tall player to ponder, Luiz Gustavo at Bayern Munich.

        Capoue can also play at CBack which will afford us the ability to use Vermaelen as LB cover if and when necessary till such time as we can look into the issue with more choice in the summer.

  4. Vote -1 Vote +1marcus

    Well, i have to agree that we do need a natural pacy winger who loves to hug the touchline, can dribble past defenders with great aplomb and most importantly can deliver proper crosses (and through balls). I however disagree with the notion that we do not need another striker, and this is why. Giroud, Theo and Poldi all bring a different dimension up front BUT they all feature together and herein lies my argument. Our strongest attack force features all three spear heading the attack with Theo and giroud given the license to roam. This means that all three play most of the games so when fatigue and injury hits either of them we do not have a plan B. For example, if Giroud is injured, Theo plays as a lone striker with poldi and the ox flanking him. Remember that Theo and poldi have been playing all along so if injury hits another or fatigue creeps in we are screwed as this would mean bringing gervinho into the side or playing ramsey on the wing which is suicide. Man u and Mancity both have enough strikers so that no matter what formation they employ, they’ve got an extra striker on the bench in case of emergency. I also feel that an extra striker keeps the starters on their toes and in top form.

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1santori

      Pacy wingers : Walcott, Chamberlain, Gervinho (ACN), Gnabry

      + Podolski, (cough) Arsharvin

      Why do we need one more?

      We need a striker. Someone with a bit more cunning and guile than Walcott but with pace too ( at very least faster than OG).

      If we are daring maybe a Leandro Damiao. He has good capability but his stock should have fallen slightly since the summer with Internacional performing poorly.

      Pato would have been interesting but an injury liability.

      I think the issue in the Striker search would be that there is an extremely short list of candidates who can realistically fill our requirement currently up top for price.

  5. Vote -1 Vote +1shotta

    Tim – Realistically Zaha is the most probable signee in the window and there are no guarantees given United is sniffing around and his manger, Ian Holloway, may do another Charlie Adam. Most of the others, at least the ones with whom I am familiar, are playing for clubs competing in Europe or seeking one of those spots domestically.

    Of course the assumption is re-signing Theo is our priority. On this, I don’t doubt Wenger wants to do a deal.

    1. -1 Vote -1 Vote +1santori

      Don’t like the idea of Zaha.

      May be a smoke screen.

      he is unproven at PL level and that is a huge step for him to take. We have enough in development in Ox, Gnabry and Miyaichi.

      Our priority in any case should be for a striker.

  6. Vote -1 Vote +1shotta

    BTW: Hopefully I am not misunderstood; I am just as eager to see us bring in someone who will strengthen us and your argument for a wideman is very persuasive. But we shouldn’t do a signing for signing sake. Leave that to Harry Rednapp and Mark Hughes.

  7. Vote -1 Vote +1Mart

    PSV’s 25yr olds Dries Mertens and Jeremain Lens fit perfectly for both left and right wings.
    Mertens at 5’6″ is the same height as Messi and Cazorla , in 15 games 7 goals and 9 assists, has lots of creativity, perfect in dribbling and passing.
    Lens at 5’8″, 18 games 6 goals and 8 assists; has plenty of pace and dribbling skills

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1santori

      Personally prefer us to get Konoplyanka at Dnipro.

      @23, quick, technical and good vision and most importantly, he can play across the midfield (much like Santi)

      but don’t see an urgent requirement for a wide man if Walcott signs.

  8. Vote -1 Vote +1Tai Obasi, Lagos.

    Great post and excellent reasoning. The only worry I have now is Thomas Vermaelen. Arsenal team needs just three world class players to compete at all levels.

    I was certain Vermaelen, Mertesacker and Kolscieny were world class CBs at the beginning of the season but the Belgian has left his class to that of average, meaning we’ll not be solid again at the back by next season!

    Otherwise, with Szczesny, Sagna, Gibbs, Per, Verm, Arteta, Wilshere, Carzo;a, Podolski, Giroud, Walcott…one can say there are eight world class players from that bunch. And with Chamberlain, Rosicky, Diaby as part of back-ups, Arsenal is gradually emerging. They are all different players but we are getting gradually over the loses of Fabregas, Nasri and RVP with Carzola, Podolski and Giroud…

    I don’t believe Wenger will buy in January unless he finds another steal like Carzola. I’m certain Le Prof wants to have a squad for trophies by next summer and don’t see him buying any average player just for the sake of buying. What he has can conveniently navigate top 4, then he’ll get three or two top quality, depending on how Giroud and Podolski finish the season.

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1santori

      Not sure why you are worried with TV.

      He has quietly improved over recent games and put in an excellent performance against the wee club from the NE.

  9. Vote -1 Vote +1Bunburyist

    I still feel we’ll made a bid for a striker this January. I’ve long thought it would be Lopez (though Tim is clearly not keen), but regardless of the name, I think we’ll make a move.

    Why? Because I’m quite certain Walcott is as good as gone. But even in the unlikely scenario that he signs a new contract, I believe Wenger will only use Walcott as a striker against select teams rather than wholesale, more often than not preferring him as a winger.

    For me, the club only has one out-and-out striker (especially when Walcott leaves), and that’s Giroud. Wenger will never play Podolski as a central striker (a pity, in my opinion), so we need another one.

    Ideally, we’d sign four or five new players this January (keeper, central midfielder, winger, striker), but that’s not going to happen. We need a reliable and experienced back-up to Szczesny (we’re linked again with Reina, but I have doubts about a) his current ability, and b) whether he’d ever move to a club to be back-up). As for a winger, it may well be Zaha, but if we’re in a bidding war with United, and/or if his head is so big (which it is) that he thinks he deserves to start for a title-winning club, then we’ll miss out.

    Finally, I have doubts we’ll ever sign the midfield “general” / “warrior” / “le tigre” that most of us want. Diaby, I see, is back in training, once again providing Wenger the perfect excuse not to buy such a player.


      1. Vote -1 Vote +1Caribkid

        Drinking my goddamn rum of course :)

        Found a new drink when I was doping a shoot in Jamaica last month and it’s great for cold days. Appleton Gold and Stone’s Ginger Wine, neat or microwaved for 30 secs with a few coffee beans. Chilled or with a few cubes of ice in the Summer.

        Now leave me alone while I finish my drink on this cold Atlanta day.

        BTW: What ever happened to our great Japanese import, Ryo Myachi? Great name, reminds me of Karate Kid every time .

        It even keeps the cajones warm

  10. Vote -1 Vote +11NilToTheArsenal

    Agreed on Gotze.

    But my position is simple too:

    We have a wide player already, as well as someone who can play centre foward. Someone who can dribble and cross. Someone who passes well overall.

    His name is Theo Walcott, and he needs to sign a contract with Arsenal. Once that’s done, another winger will be icing on the cake.

    Happy New Year to us. What’s so funny ’bout peace. love and understanding…

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1santori

      Regardless of whether Walcott signs, we will need another striker.

      Walcott cannot replicate the sort of effect Giroud has at spear point. Vice versa. If one goes out injured, we are left with a capability issue and frankly rather bare in the department.

      It will be foolish to think Walcott can operate as effectively in and against a deeper defensive team as oppose to one which will come at us.

  11. Vote -1 Vote +1ctpa

    What happened to to the Arsenal Academy ‘pipe line’?
    Ready made or youth?
    Like O-C and Walcott, we’ll have to go outside and bring in a Zaha for 12-15mil. We’ll have to wait for him to develop. Charlton’s 20mil asking price is bogus. Man U had their opening bid of 8mil rebuffed.

    Personally I’d like to see Zaha play to see if he has ‘it’. I saw O-C play in a FA cup game and you could see he was a step ahead of the other players on the pitch.

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1santori

      Which is why I don’t see Zaha.

      We need someone who can make an immediate impact.

      Zaha is unproven in the PL which is a big step from championship.

      We have as is 2-3 very promising, pacy and direct young wingers in Ox, Miyaichi and Gnabry. Do we need another development project?

  12. Vote -1 Vote +1Zeddington

    What’s wrong with Lopez? I don’t know much about him but it is a name I’m increasingly seeing, is he rubbish?

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1santori

      I don’t see anything wrong with him either.

      He is @10m a good 20m quid less than say a Leandro Damiao.

      Seems to have good neck muscle and understanding in and around the box. Reasonable pace (not Chamakh). Plays wide too.

  13. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Tim Post author

    Adrian Lopez is the perfect striker if Arsenal find themselves in the Europa League next season. He scored 10 goals in Europa League play and 7 in la Liga.

    He’s also another one of these players who refuses to stay wide, can’t cross, but does get a lot of headed goals in a league where headers are few and far between (Squillaci came from Spain, where he was a decent defender).

    Maybe that’s why Arsenal are bidding on him? We are moving the club to Spain and hoping to play in the Europa League?

    Hope I’m wrong about him, I’ve seen some good flashes, but largely he’s been a disappointment.

    As for Zaha, there’s nothing wrong with signing him over Goetze, they are both the same age and buying English is smart (financially).

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