I’d love nothing more than Arsenal to splash out on a world-class striker, but the reality is they simply aren’t available and we have more than enough firepower to get closer to 100 league goals and make a sustained challenge for the title…
A running theme of Arsenal’s squad in the last few seasons is that they have always seemed one or two players short. Every transfer coup they’ve made, such as that of Petr Cech, has always been qualified by the phrase “A good signing – now if they can just sign a player in X position, they can challenge for the league.” Since the departure of Robin van Persie, one of the common positions has been centre-forward, and many believe that Arsenal can’t win the league unless they have a world-class striker, however that’s measured.
Unfortunately, there aren’t any available. Arsène Wenger would love to have somebody like Karim Benzema, Robert Lewandowski or Luis Suarez at his disposal, but the best strikers are tied down at the biggest clubs already, and none seem likely to leave. The tier below that may see some movement, with the likes of Alexandre Lacazette and Christian Benteke potentially on the move, but Arsenal already have strikers who are good-but-not-great, so it’s likely that Wenger will stick with what he has.
That’s not to say that Arsenal can’t actually challenge for the league with the squad as it is, though, as if signing a striker for over £30 million is an achievement which unlocks passage to the top spot in the Premier League. The top clubs above Arsenal last season, Chelsea and Manchester City, have Diego Costa and Sergio Aguero respectively, while the Gunners can no longer boast the electric Thierry Henry from when they last won the league, but it can still be done. Arsenal’s strength comes in other areas.
Certainly, the emphasis at Arsenal is on sharing the responsibility, and, while there may be no player capable of scoring 30 goals in a season for the Gunners, there are plenty of players who can be aiming for 15 over the course of a season which is likely to span 50+ games. In midfield, Aaron Ramsey proved his goal-scoring potential in 2013, while the quartet of Mesut Özil, Santi Cazorla, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Jack Wilshere will be hoping to eclipse the combined 18 goals they scored last season. Wenger doesn’t just see signing players as the only way to improve, but is also desperate to get more out of the players already at his disposal. The potential for goals in Arsenal’s midfield is clear already.
Arsenal’s forwards can also share the goals around in 2015/16. Last season, Alexis Sanchez top-scored with 25 in all competitions, with Giroud behind him on 19, despite having been injured for several months. Danny Welbeck endured a mixed first season at the Emirates, and will be hoping to score more than the eight goals he scored in his debut campaign, while Theo Walcott will hope to be fit and healthy all year in order to better his tally of seven goals in 21 appearances (of which 14 were from the bench).
It’ll be crucial, as is always said, that Arsenal can keep their players fit, because several reliable goal-scorers spent time on the treatment table last season, and, if the likes of Walcott and Giroud can stay fit throughout the league campaign, they can improve their own tallies and help those around them reach their own goal-scoring potential.
As well as that, despite not having one stand-out number nine up front, the variety in Arsenal’s attacking options will allow them to rotate their attackers and choose the player whose skillset suits the opposition. Olivier Giroud offers strength and intelligent link-up play; Theo Walcott offers speed and intelligent movement; Danny Welbeck offers a combination of speed and strength as well as improving link-up play; Alexis Sanchez offers pace and skill and the ability to win a match on his own. Variety in attack is a potent weapon, and Arsène Wenger will be looking forward to utilising it this season.
Last season, Arsenal scored 71 league goals, and they will be looking to go closer to 100 this time around. Even without signing an upgrade to what they already have up front, they can expect individual improvements and variety in attack to serve them well. Besides, their tally of 71 in the league last season was only two away from Chelsea’s 73, despite the presence of Diego Costa. Lacking a £30 million striker isn’t going to stop Arsenal from challenging from the word go this season.
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