The need for Arsenal to add an additional striker in January seems to be a hot topic in the media and generally across the net on the Arsenal related sites. This is a topic I have thought about putting up for greater discussion for some time now, and as there have been increasingly more official comments on the site recently about whether we need an addition to the striker department in January, I thought now would be a good time to bring up the topic as an official discussion point.
There seems to be a consistent feeling amongst the media, pundits, and public at large, that Arsenal are potentially genuine title contenders, but require an additional striker to make this a reality. Without said addition, despite how well things are currently going, we will still get caught short as the season progresses. One injury to Giroud and it is all curtains for our EPL challenge. Is this thought process a genuine concern?
I have to hold my hands up and say that I have changed my mind on a few occasions through the summer and the start of the season as to whether an additional front man is required, and if so who. Before the start of the season I was of the opinion that Ollie was a very good front man and totally worthy of a place in the Arsenal squad, but more as a second choice striker to someone slightly more world class (apologies for the cliché).
Well Ollie has very much changed my mind on this. He has stepped up a level and, even if he is still not the most prolific goal-scoring striker, his strengths seem to fit ideally with our current system, and the players he has around him. In other words he makes the whole team play better, and maybe that is more important than a few extra individual goals.
So if we do look to add to the strike force do we need to be careful as to how we do it and who we try to bring in, so as not to upset the great harmony that currently exists in our squad? I feel that if we are giving serious consideration to our striker department then we have three main options :
1 Buy no-one and go with what we have and hope that Stuart Robson is not able to say I told you so at the end of the season.
2 Buy a player who is identical or very similar to Giroud.
3 Buy a different type of striker to Giroud.
So, looking at option 1, what if we bought no-one? At present, due to injuries, I think we can all see that the options outside of Ollie are a little bit bare. What happens however when Theo and Podolski return. Both players who will give a good goal return over a season, and who both seem to be natural finishers. The question-mark with both of them is can they step into Giroud’s role or are they more suited to playing off of him? I have my own personal opinions on this but will refrain until later and allow you all to express yours.
With option 2 we can look at a player of a very similar type to Giroud, so that one can play when the other doesn’t, and we don’t then lose any fluency in the system we play. If so are we looking to bring in this player as a back up to Giroud, who will then become second choice to him, or are we looking to bring in a similar standard player, or perhaps someone considered of a similar style but even better than Ollie?
All potential considerations in option 2 have their problems. Most back up players will not directly replace his quality and may not in reality give us more than Nik B currently does, which for me would seem a futile exercise. With a similar standard player to Giroud, or one considered better, then we are likely asking Ollie to relinquish being permanent first choice and either playing in a 50-50 job sharing role, or becoming back up himself. That would seem very harsh on Ollie, and may even back-fire on us if it upsets the teams balance and current harmony.
It also needs to be considered, that with a player that some will perceive to be better than Ollie, it is not guaranteed that they would indeed step in and actually be better. They may have looked great before they came to us, but may not look as suited to our style, and the EPL in general, once they have stepped in. That could be an expensive mistake to find out, and I am in reality struggling to see many target men type strikers that have the all round game that Ollie has, that could be considered to be as good as, or a better option than him.
Option 3 is to buy a different type of striker to Ollie, and if possible one that has both the ability to lead the line in Giroud’s absence, or even play alongside or behind him. It is my belief that this is what Arsene was looking for with Suarez. His ability to play both roles means it wouldn’t always have to be him or Ollie, as it would be with the type of player from option 2, but could be him and Ollie at times. These types of players don’t seem to grow on trees though and tend to be the most expensive players out there, because they have the dual ability of a top goal-scoring striker, and the ability of a top class attacking midfielder so that they can also play the slightly deeper or support striker role.
So what is the best option for us as it currently stands? I would like to hear your opinions on this subject but would like to ask you to, as well as just putting names forward, think about what it means to the squad as a whole both in a positive way and a negative way, and to give a rationale to your answers.
For example if you don’t think we need anyone then which players will cover the role Ollie currently plays if he is injured? If you do think we need another addition then are you more leaning towards option 2 or 3 and who is it you want? Is your preferred choice firstly a realistic one, and secondly are they coming in as a back up striker, or as first choice striker? Will one of the previously more regular first team players be pushed down the pecking order to the point where they will likely consider leaving us and if so are you ok with this and who do you consider that player should be?
Over to you….
Written by GoonerB