Saturday, August 23, 2014

Stop Whining About a Striker; Everton Preview

I was supposed to go in for work today but then my senior emailed saying I don't have to. God bless her soul. Which also means I can write about Arsenal, and let my views be read by random people who come across my website, and never actually read anything. If I reek of desperation for this blog to be read by someone, it's because I am desperate. Desperate enough to appreciate people whose comments on blogs and discussion groups are along the lines of 'We should get Falcao. And since he's injury prone we should get Cavani as backup. F*** Giroud.' Okay, I'm only joking. I'm not that desperate. 

But that does bring me to this oft-mentioned point about how Arsenal need another striker. Almost every moron with a twitter account says it, and tabloids add fuel to the fire by linking us with every random striker that exists. So let's just put transfer rumours aside, and quote Arsene Wenger:

Ordinarily that would definitely mean Arsene Wenger isn't looking for another attacking player. No winger, no striker. He didn't say 'we aren't looking at anyone at the moment' nor did he say 'we're ready to do business if something comes up'. No, he simply and clearly stated that Arsenal doesn't need an attacker. So as far as rumours are concerned, the simple solution for all the grievances, misgivings and disappointment that someone might have (on account of the fact that we didn't buy Johnny Superstriker Jr.) is to simply stop reading tabloids. It's good for health, really. Of course, my intention in writing this is not to throw water over your hopes and dreams about Johnny Superstriker Jr., rather it was to analyze this striker business.

Anyone who has ever read this blog (one can always hope), or my tweets (yes I tweet these days strangely enough) would know that I like Giroud. His 16 League goals, and 22 overall is not bad at all. Plus he provides a bunch of assists, and also lead to what I firmly believe is one of the greatest goals ever (the Jack Wilshere one against Norwich last season). His style is such that he holds the ball allowing all our midfield talent to do their stuff. That being said, he's not clinical, misses a lot, and isn't in that elite bracket of strikers plying their trade today. He's good at what he does, but he is no game changer. Good, but not great. 

Our need for attacking reinforcement became apparent with the minimal number of goals we scored last season. Giroud for all the things that he does well, scoring 30 goals a season isn't his thing and Sanogo is still young and yet to score competitively for Arsenal. So it might appear strange that Wenger hasn't bought an out and out striker this season, nor does it look like he's buying such a player. The most obvious answer is because he bought Sanchez (by this time most people are already shaking their heads disdainfully).

Sanchez isn't Cavani, he isn't Falcao, nor is he someone like Costa or Lukaku. Sanchez is a creative forward, capable of playing all across the front three. He isn't an out and out winger, he isn't a traditional No. 9 like Giroud or Cavani, he is what I like to believe a creative striker. He can create and score, he isn't a target man, but someone who widens play and isn't static. For everyone who would have loved Luis Suarez last season, there's a reason why Liverpool wanted Sanchez as Suarez's replacement. Suarez was the best striker in Europe last season by a mile, and the fact remains he barely played in that No. 9 position. He played all across the front three for Liverpool, and wasn't he prolific?

Sanchez, whether he plays on the right, the left, or upfront has the qualities of a typical Wenger striker. Think about it. He has the pace, he can dribble and he's creative. His 19 goals in La Liga last season are proof that he has an eye for goal. People say that he's not tall enough, or well built enough to be a striker. He may only be 5'7 but he's got a stocky frame. The next time you watch Sanchez play, watch him defend. He's got an awful amount of strength, and if I dare say so, is made for the physicality of the Premier League. I've always thought that Walcott would make an excellent striker, if only he had the upper body strength. Walcott has pace, excellent movement, he knows how to run in behind defenders. He'd be a pretty decent striker against smaller teams. But against the bigger ones, he'd easily be overpowered, and shunted off the ball. Sanchez has the quality which prevents Walcott from being a striker. 

That's the reason why I don't see Wenger buying another striker, especially a target mine like Cavani. Because he already has a striker, the type which he likes. And think about it. Wenger's greatest strikers, his best ever, none of them were target men. They were pacey, creative forwards. Starting with Anelka, then Henry and finally (even though I hate saying so) Van Persie (Bergkamp always played a slightly deeper role for Arsenal so I'm not counting him). They weren't players who would head the ball, or be a 'fox in the box'. In the words of that dutch skunk, they were 9 and a halfs. 

I expect to see Sanchez start a game up top for Arsenal sooner or later. Sanchez and Giroud are Arsenal's equivalent to say Aguero and Dzeko. Additionally, in purely numerical terms, we have the further additions of Sanogo, Walcott, Campbell, and even Podolski to a certain extent. None of them are first choice strikers of course, but in pure backup terms, they aren't bad either. The striker question has already been answered this summer in the form of Sanchez. What we need to do is wait for Sanchez to acclimatise to his surroundings and his teammates (Seriously, Cavani isn't happening. Get over it).

That striker went a little bit long didn't it? Anyway, we've got Everton vs Arsenal on tonight, and after the 3-0 humiliation last season, I hope we finally show what are made of (I mean it can't get worse right). Our away trips were well documented, and Everton is perhaps our first actual test of the season. I'm willing to strike off the Besiktas match on account of the conditions, but Everton is our first league test. I really hope we manage to fix the deficiencies in creativity we've had for the opening two matches of the season.

While Ozil is in the squad, he probably won't start, even though I really think his role is being missed. With Santi Cazorla looking indifferent so far, we need someone to create those chances. Assuming Ozil doesn't start, I'd bring in Chamberlain, because he's looked great in his substitute appearances, or maybe even Rosicky. The creativity has to come from somewhere, and these are players who could help. I would also start Sanchez up front, but I don't really think that's going to happen so soon in the season.
Arteta is injured, so Flamini comes in his place, and I really wish we don't feel Arteta's absence too badly. Chambers is probably going to start again, and he'll also face his first big test in the form of Lukaku. We'll definitely know more about Calum Chambers after tonight. On a more advantageous note for us, Ross Barkley won't be playing, so Everton might be devoid of some creativity too. That being said, I can never wish ill for Everton because they're a great club, run in the best of ways, and have probably the best and nicest managers in Roberto Martinez. There's a great piece about him on ESPN which you really should read.  

It's going to be a tough match of course, but if we finally manage to gel as a team, three points should be manageable. I'll of course be cracking bad jokes through the course of the match on twitter if anyone wants to read them. 

Hope it's a good match.
'til next time