Arsenal Don’t Need Another Striker

Jul 22, 2014; Pasadena, CA, USA; Manchester United forward Danny Welbeck (19) during team practice before the game on July 23 against the Los Angeles Galaxy at the Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 22, 2014; Pasadena, CA, USA; Manchester United forward Danny Welbeck (19) during team practice before the game on July 23 against the Los Angeles Galaxy at the Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports /

Arsenal have been rumored to be signing every striker under the sun in recent years. From Mario Mandzukic to Nicola Zigic (yes, that one is genuine and terrifying at the same time), Wenger has apparently needed to and tried to acquire further strikers in support of Olivier Giroud. Even Arsenal fans agree that Wenger needs to invest in the forward department.

Many forget that Wenger was successful in signing Danny Welbeck in a £16 million move from Manchester United on transfer deadline day last summer. Wenger originally wanted to loan Welbeck, rather than buy him in a permanent deal, as cover for Olivier Giroud once Giroud broke his ankle and was ruled out for half the season.

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Welbeck acquitted himself well throughout his first season at the emirates, and although he moved to play center forward, was often played on the wing, especially in the closing stages of the season to great effect. One particular game in memory is the North London derby at White Hart Lane where Welbeck played wide right and gave Tottenham left back, Danny Rose, a ragged time. Welbeck was and is a solid acquisition by Wenger and is particularly useful as a squad member for his versatility across the front line.

Welbeck is still young at 24. With obvious talent and years ahead of him, it would be foolish to give up on him now by bringing in a further striker. And that is the key point. Bringing in another striker will stunt the opportunities available to a group of young, talented strikers that Welbeck plays alongside at Arsenal. This is something that Wenger must realize and therefore resist pressure to add to his striking options.

At Arsenal there are currently 5 young strikers with great potential behind the first choice Olivier Giroud. Firstly, there is Welbeck who I have previously talked about. In addition, Arsenal have Theo Walcott, Yaya Sanogo, Chuba Akpom and Joel Campbell. These 5 young strikers provide enough depth as cover for Olivier Giroud.

Arsenal FC
Arsenal FC /

Arsenal FC

Theo Walcott in the last 3 seasons has scored 24 goals in 59 appearances. That may not seem like a particularly impressive record, but of these 49 appearances, 22 were from off the bench. When you further consider that many of these appearances were from the right wing, his goal record is outstanding.

Having just turned 26, Walcott is the oldest of this young group. However, since joining Arsenal he has never had an extended run in the first team at center forward. Without a full season playing center forward, Theo has tons of untapped potential in this role, as shown by his 33 minute hat-trick against West Brom on the final day of the season.

Wenger will also have 2 loan players who are returning to Arsenal next season in Yaya Sanogo and Joel Campbell. Campbell, after impressing on loan last season at Olympiakos and again in the world cup for Costa Rica, struggled to force his way into the Arsenal squad and ended the season on loan at Villarreal. Campbell failed to perform at Villarreal, scoring 1 goal in 14 appearances and looks set to leave Arsenal this summer.

Campbell seems to lack the quality in the final third to excel at the highest level. Although he has potential, and a further loan spell may be appropriate, if he is to have a long term future at Arsenal he must improve drastically to impress the so far unimpressed Wenger.

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The other returning loan player, however, has extremely raw talent, but a talent that if coerced, could come to have a long and illustrious career at the Emirates. Yes, I know what you’re thinking. Yaya Sanogo plays like Bambi on ice, he’s only scored 1 competitive goal for Arsenal and some fans have affectionately labelled him Yaya Sanogoal – not good for a striker. But hear me out: in flashes, he oozes talent; something that will be severely restricted with the addition of a further striker.

In his final season with Auxerre, Sanogo (who was greatly injured at 19 turning 20) scored 10 goals in 13 appearances. A ratio close to a goal a game at that young age is quite frankly phenomenal. Sanogo also scored 4 goals in a friendly against a good Benfica side last summer and looked like a world beater for 30 minutes against a world class Bayern Munich team the season before. If he can stay fit and is allowed to develop with enough playing time at Arsenal, Sanogo has the potential to become a world beater; to see that in any shirt other than the red of Arsenal would be heartbreaking.

“He has personality [and] he has quality…He’s more a guy who likes to participate in the build up, a guy who is brave, a guy who makes good runs” – Arsene Wenger on Chuba Akpom

The final striker in the arsenal (I’m sorry) is Chuba Akpom. Akpom is a sensational talent, scoring 28 goals in 40 games for the U21’s. This does not seem like an outstanding record at first glance, but under more consideration, it shows that Akpom is a star for the future.

Firstly, Akpom is only 19, turning 20 in October. He’s therefore playing against older and much more experienced players; his goal scoring record under such circumstances is outstanding. Moreover, Wenger described Akpom as someone who prefers to create, rather than having a natural eye for goal. For someone who needs to improve on their finishing, this goal scoring record is excellent.

Wenger has also publicly expressed confidence in the U20 England star by placing him on the bench multiple times this season, and giving the youngster some precious first team experience. Akpom has the perfect blend of pace, power and size to dominate opposing defenders, and with the right training can truly become a world class striker. Signing a further striker would only help to hinder his progress, something that must be done in this summer transfer window.

Wenger has managed to amass a deep squad in the striking department. Alongside Giroud, Wenger has a group of talented youngsters to work with and progress. All in all, it is reasonable to argue that Arsenal have 8 possible strikers; Giroud, the previously discussed youngsters, the returning Lukas Podolski and Alexis Sanchez (although this last scenario would not be ideal).

Therefore, the only reason Wenger would go and bring a striker in is to replace Giroud, rather than provide squad depth, and quite frankly, that would be a stupid idea. Giroud is the perfect striker for Arsenal’s intricate style of play, his first touch is immaculate, his flicks are beautiful to watch and his movement, although lacking pace, is severely underrated.

So please Wenger, be your stubborn self and restrain from bringing in another striker, however much other Arsenal fans may want one. Do you agree that Arsenal have enough quality in the center forward role without adding via the transfer window? Do you agree that Akpom and Sanogo could be the future of Arsenal strikers? Let me know in the comments below.

Next: Another wonderkid for Arsenal?

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