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.
I WANT MORE LIFE, FUCKER.
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.