Arsenal have a number of center forward options on the books.
However, so far, this season has shown that the club still needs to sort out the long-term balance of the position. Heading into the current season there were a number of question marks looming over Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal side.
The alarming number of high paid sub-par defenders, especially at center-back, depicted a club with a lopsided transfer strategy. The public sagas swirling around high-profile midfielders like Mesut Ozil and Matteo Guendouzi was a constant source of divisive headlines, and a clear lack of creativity in the side meant that serious questions were being asked of Arsenal’s attacking potency.
Yet, on paper, most Arsenal supporters did not have major qualms with the team’s options at center forward.
Of course, Alexandre Lacazette has had his detractors for quite a while now in north London, but the Frenchman finished the previous season with a decent late flourish. Lacazette scored goals against Wolverhampton Wanderers, Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool to add some gloss onto what was a pretty poor season. Furthermore, Lacazette seemed to gain the trust of manager Arteta with his selfless contributions at the striker position. Lacazette was a dogged defender often leading the press by himself and initiating the triggers that called the entire front line into action.
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Unfortunately, his poor form has reared its ugly head once more and it is now hard to see how Arsenal’s No. 9 can regain the trust of the fans and manager – as well as his own confidence.
More surprising, though, is the anemic form of club captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Since signing his bumper new deal with the club the Gabonese hitman has seen his goal tally dry up. It was only months ago that Arsenal seemed very much like a one-man team, living and dying by Aubameyang’s boot.
Now, with only two goals in nine Premier League matches, Aubameyang is struggling to find his form, even moving more centrally has not alleviated his drought.
Further down the pecking order, the situation is hopeful but still murky. Reports that contract negotiations with Folarin Balogun are back underway, and now that Huss Fahmy is no longer helming negotiations, perhaps there is some hope on that front. What would an extension for Balogun mean for up-and-coming striker Eddie Nketiah, who has impressed in flashes but is yet to totally convince?
Finally, there is the wild card of Gabriel Martinelli. The mercurial young Brazilian has the unenviable role of shouldering all of the hopes and dreams of Arsenal fans along with Bukayo Saka. He may blossom into a fantastic striker, but he needs to be given the time and patience to reach that level.
The key to the puzzle is finding balance and continuity within the rest of the team. Aubameyang and Lacazette are quality players who can get the team thirty-five or so goals in a season, they simply need the right combination behind them to thrive.
Balancing Arsenal’s short-term needs with their long-term goals will be a tricky task for the manager, but sorting out the center forward position is one major building block in this convoluted process.