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Arsenal: Consistently Inconsistent Strikers And The Need For A Winger

Following Arsenal’s shaky 0-1 win against QPR, Richard Barrett talks about the one attribute that the current Arsenal forwards are lacking, consistency.

As the final whistle blew in London on Saturday evening, many Gunners fans voiced their discontent with their side’s inefficiency in front of goal. It appears that a natural centre forward is what Arsenal fans believe the current squad is lacking.

Lukasz Podolski was ineffectual against QPR and received the curly finger from Arsene Wenger for the 21st time this season. That makes him the fifth-most subbed off player in a single Premier League season. Although Podolski has 14 goals (9 EPL) this season, he has failed to replicate his good performances week-in-week-out.

Certain sections of the Emirates crowd appear to be losing patience with the German international, as outlined in the hundreds of tweets lambasting the summer signing:

Theo Walcott is another Arsenal front-man that can be extremely frustrating to watch. He has never hidden his personal belief that he is most effective when played through the centre, and scored another crucial goal as Arsenal continued their battle for third place. When looking back at the 2012/13 season, the statistics will point to a fruitful season for the England international; 20+ goals, numerous assists (10 in the EPL) etc.

However, upon further inspection it is clear that Theo is still lacking in certain aspects of his game. Although his finishing has improved twofold, it is Walcott’s inconsistency that is his biggest enemy. When teams sit deep and try to catch Arsenal on the break, Walcott’s threat is often nullified as he struggles to use his electric pace to full effect.

In a sprint, there are only a handful of players in the EPL capable of giving Walcott a ‘run’ for his money. That is not up for debate. However, what good is pace when it cannot be used effectively on a regular basis.

Take a look at the likes of Mario Gomez, Miroslav Klose, etc. These are complete out-and-out strikers. It is unthinkable to play them anywhere but through the centre.

I fully understand that Theo is a different type of striker, but he could learn a lot from the traditional European goalscorers like Gomez et al. If Walcott wants to be considered as a central striker, he needs to become more disciplined and play off the shoulder of the last defender. More often than not, Walcott can become frustrated with the lack of supply and drifts back into midfield. This is not something that a central striker should ever do. Wayne Rooney is often guilty of doing the same. When have you ever seen Mario Gomez outside the box, let alone back in midfield?

Olivier Giroud is probably the nearest thing Arsenal have to a central striker. Although he can be quite wasteful in front of goal, one cannot fault his effort. It has been a tough first season in England for the Frenchman but he has won over the Emirates faithful in the last few months.

Giroud has the ability to become an Arsenal legend and his potential cannot be underestimated. The best way to describe the former Montpellier striker is by piecing together the different players that make up Giroud’s overall game.

1) Danny Welbeck: Giroud’s ability to bring other players into the game is very similar to what Welbeck does at Old Trafford. However, Giroud scores goals.

2) Didier Drogba: During his time in France, Giroud proved how ruthless he can be in the air. If Arsenal can get an out-and-out winger to supply accurate crosses, Giroud will score. Also, he is 6′ 4″.

3) Shane Long: It may seem strange to compare these players, but Giroud’s work-rate is similar to that of the West Brom hitman. One thing that can never be questioned is Giroud’s workrate.

For Arsenal to fully utilise Giroud’s qualities, they need to employ a talented winger whose sole purpose is to bombard the box with crosses that Giroud can attack. With Luis Nani’s time apparently coming to an end at Manchester United, a move to the Emirates would be ideal in my opinion. Nani, although frustrating, is capable of delivering quality balls. He could forge an explosive partnership with Giroud, similar to the one that the latter had enjoyed with Younes Belhanda at Montpellier.

Gervinho is not only frustrating to watch, but also irritating to look at. His mammoth forehead (which is in fact a five-head) is the only real thing that catches the eye when looking at the Ivory Coast international. He has bundles of pace (and inches of forehead), but has really struggled at Arsenal.

Arsenal also have a large number of players out on loan, that have affectionately become known as ‘deadwood’. Players such as Nicklas Bendtner, Marouane Chamakh, etc. are all still on the Arsenal books. They need to be gotten rid of.

Overall, the current Arsenal squad is talented, but they are a few players short of a team capable of competing for the title. If Arsene Wenger is Michelangelo, and the current squad are his marble, then it’s clear that more supplies are needed in order to create his David.

Arsenal will clinch a Champions League spot, they always do. However, they will continue to finish a significant amount of points behind the Manchester clubs unless Wenger can add to his squad the attribute that is most important in professional football, and that is consistency.

Sport Is Everything. Richard Barrett.

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