How can Wenger salvage Arsenal's season?
By John Fernandez
Cesc Fàbregas, Samir Nasri, Gael Clichy, Robin van Persie and Alex Song. All players who played their best football at Arsenal and then left.
The question is, with the revolving door at Arsenal picking up speed, how can Arsenal improve performances and salvage there season?
Arsène Wenger has bought experienced talent this summer in the shape of Olivier Giroud, Lukas Podolski and Santi Cazorla, but after two nill-nill draws against opposition that a fully firing Arsenal squad should have turned over easily, it seems that the new cogs Wenger has brought in may not be turning in co-ordination.
How can the new boys change fortunes?
Arguably, these players should be able to step in and fill the gaps. Giroud was the top scorer in a Montpellier side which won Ligue 1 last season and was even rewarded with a place on France’s Euro 2012 side, as understudy to the misfiring Karim Benzema.
However, he has showed in his first full 90 minutes on the pitch for Arsenal, that filling the boots of Robin Van Persie isn’t as easy as just playing in the same team and similar position as the Dutchman.
Against Stoke the France international struggled to get into the same goalscoring areas that his predecessor made look so easy, which meant that often the ample crosses provided by Podolski, Gervinho, Chamberlain and the wantaway Walcott, were wasted.
He squandered Arsenal’s best opportunity of the game by trying a spectacular, dare I say Van Persie-esque, strike when a simple lay-of to Aaron Ramsey could have provided the goal the Gunners so desperately need.
Selfishness can often be what makes a striker a great goalscorer in the Premier League, but in this situation, the obvious lay-off to his Welsh teammate was the only choice that could have brought Arsenal the goal they currently yearn for.
Giroud may already be trying too hard to emulate Van Persie, when what Arsenal may need right now is a fresh start, a differing style from the way they played with RVP as the focal point of their attack.
A change of tact for a new era?
Giroud stands at 6’ 4”, so the idea of him playing as more of a target man for Arsenal’s bountiful midfield assets could be one that appeals to Wenger.
However, with Arsenal’s preferred 4-5-1/ 4-2-3-1 formation, this may not be appropriate for the role the striker fills.
The question that must be raised now is can Theo Walcott be the solution to these problems?
It is no secret that Walcott has wanted to play as a central striker for the majority of his time at Arsenal, but Theo has been forced to play as a winger almost exclusively.
Could tempting Walcott with the offer of a central strikers berth be the way to convince him to sign a new deal at the club?
With Mikel Arteta, Abou Diaby, Jack Wilshere and newboy Santi Cazorla providing through balls in the central channels, Walcott could play of the shoulder of the last man and use his biggest asset, his pace, to beat defenders and grab the Gunners their much needed goals.
Who will come to Arsenal’s defence?
The focus after Van Persie and Song’s departures has been on where the goals will come from. The Gunners biggest issue last season, however, seemed to be stopping the other team from scoring.
With Song gone, the defensive midfield slot which he occupied, screening the back four, now has nobody with any real experience to fill it.
Sure, Diaby and Wilshere could fit in that position, but neither brings the physical presence which is needed in that role, so that they can fill in at the centre of defence, or cover for Arsenal’s marauding full-backs.
The other factor is that playing them in a deeper lying role will stunt the influence they can have on attacks, with both Wilshere and Diaby capable of augmenting the Gunners attacks substantially.
The deal for Nuri Sahin fell though and he was snapped up by Liverpool, while it seems Yann M’Villa is on his way to White Hart Lane rather than The Emirates.
So as far as defensive midfield cover goes, Wenger needs to get somebody in sooner rather than later.
The first two games have seen clean sheets for the Gunners, but it must be taken into account that it was against 2 rigidly set out teams, without too many flair players in the holes behind the striker, bar maybe Stephane Sessegnon.
Against opposition like the two Manchester clubs and Chelsea, teams who have assets like David Silva, Edin Hazard and Shinji Kagawa who will flit between the Gunners back line and midfield in the position which Song used to occupy, the Gunners will be punished for not having a capable player in that role.
If they aren’t dealt with, the Arsenal back line will have to deal with it, opening up holes which will be exploited by top strikers.
Finding goals may be what every Gunners mind is centering on, but if they don’t find someone to fill Song’s boots pronto, then stronger teams could find a trip to the Emirates a lot easier than expected.