Stone Cold Friday: Why Arsenal Can Do Without Another Striker
He’s defeated Daleks, jousted with Jokers but I won’t tell you what happened when he met Wonder Woman. It’s the stuff of legend…Here’s Darius…
January has to be the most depressing month for football journalists. The pressure to concoct player transfer rumours is so relentless it easily qualifies as working under duress. The suits upstairs are squeezing their Editors chuffers to ensure that they fill news columns and air waves. There’s a very fine line between exclusive breaking news and faecal matter you can only read whilst pinching your nose to avoid the stench.
In Arsenal’s case, journalists truly come unstuck hence the crap-o-meter is employed overtime. Hacks and pundits would like to think and make us believe that they are on the inside. The truth is no one really has any damn clue as to Arsenal’s real intent in the transfer market. Wenger doesn’t play his cards close to his chest, he pretty much plays them from inside.
From the beginning of the season, the establishment in particular have clamoured for Arsenal to replace Adebayor. Perhaps it’s because of their assumption that without a huge tall striker of the Adebayor mould, Arsenal would fall off the cliff and disappear into the wilderness of mid-table mediocrity. In defiance, Wenger employed Van Persie in a very creative ’false No. 9’ role. It was a job that even the Dutch ace admitted was hard to grasp at first, but the faith the manager had in him helped him settle into this talismanic role.
There’s a lethargic template peddled by the establishment as to what a team’s striking department should be composed of. It’s that little and large’ comical model where a tall lanky fella is paired with a more mobile pygmy.
You see it all the time – Crouch and Defoe, Heskey and Rooney, Carew and Agbonlahor, et al. Pick any quintessential Premier league team, and the little and large effect up front is as conspicuous as the dodgy 45 year old fella hanging out in the corner of every nightclub nursing a beer, while ogling the skimpily dressed 19 year old girls on the dance floor shaking what their mamas gave them.
The establishment’s narrative suggests that to be successful, a team must have a 7 ft tall striker, built like a brick shithouse. Their duties would include holding the ball up, winning route one balls, backing into central defenders to win freekicks, essentially plucking any ball out of the air and heading it towards the enemy’s goal.
Arsenal’s problem seems to be the arrogance of defying the establishment’s narrative. It may be the fact that Wenger chooses not to look at a player’s passport as a first consideration of their quality to play for Arsenal, or whether it’s the club’s unwavering determination to insist that it is possible to win while playing the beautiful game.
The Gunners tend to baffle simpletons who seem incapable of appreciating the method to our madness. Naturally, the falsehood is that the team doesn’t score enough goals. To do this, Wenger must buy the typical tall, strong loafer of a target man who will do the job that the team is incapable of doing.
The narrative has been peddled to the point that a section of Arsenal fans actually think that if we indeed buy a regulation lanky loafer as a target man, we will certainly succeed. It’s one of them things that if you’re told often enough, you start believing it. It’s like the brainwashing from radio stations who misguidedly promote themselves as the No. 1 radio station of the year. Some people actually believe such a fallacy as if it was a quantifiable notion.
When Van Persie played the talisman, there were still doubters who suggested that he didn’t have the physique or skill to weave the magic up front. Very few of these doubters took the time to observe his overall contribution to the team in that role. In particular, it was Van Persie’s assists, and his ability to link play that were mesmerizing. The Dutchman isn’t just a goal scoring typical striker, or the one man target machine.
He is an exquisite play maker who’s technical ability and confidence provides the most scintillating link play you’ll ever see anywhere in the world. The importance and effectiveness of Van Persie was only being lauded after his injury, particularly by those who doubted him at the beginning of the season.
There is universal consensus that Van Persie is a monumental loss to Arsenal’s attacking options. However, it’s fairly naive to think that such quality can be replaced by going into the transfer market and buying who the establishment insists is a big name player and a solution for Arsenal. Wenger is crystal clear on the type of player he wants to buy; an intelligent footballer with the technical capability to play Wengerball, a player who is committed to the cause.
Unfortunately, players of this calibre who are value for money and can add options to the team, don’t grow on trees, particularly in the January of a World Cup year. If such a player was available, then the Arsenal scouting system would have plucked them out. I’m sure Wenger would not hesitate to sign a player who would add value to this squad and was affordable. For now, it’s more important to be pragmatic and consider the options that the team currently have.
The question is simple. Does Wenger buy a new player because popular belief suggests that we don’t have an out and out typical striker, and school this new signing on the virtues of Wengerball, however long it takes? Or does Wenger stick to in-house solutions that provide pragmatic options and keep the team harmony and fluency. There’s absolutely no guarantee that buying a striker will actually increase Arsenal’s goal tally. Furthermore, buying this so called goal scorer that Arsenal allegedly needs simply to hit the onion bag and not contribute to the link play or overall game is a self defeating exercise.
The Gunners don’t need a one dimensional player who does only what it says on the tin. Arsenal will do much better by working with and supporting Eduardo and Nicklas Bendtner. They are as good as or better than any strikers out there being touted as a solution for the perceived goal drought.
It’s ironic that the very qualities that Eduardo and Bendtner have are the ones that people are shouting for Arsenal to get. I guess for some, having a newer shinier model to come in with a hefty price tag looks better than the stuff you already have. Both are totally schooled on Wengerball. Their link play is excellent. In recent games, most of our goals have been routed through Eduardo’s precision link play. Just like with RVP at the beginning of the season, Eduardo’s goals will come with time. For now, the quality of his link play makes him a very effective traffic cop routing and directing Arsenal’s sublime forward play.
Last season, Bendtner scored 18 goals for club and country, and in case anyone didn’t notice, he did a pretty good impression of the huge, tall archetypal Premier league striker. He played some pretty good football too.
The solutions are there staring people in the face; some belief in their abilities would go a long way to stopping the trash talk on the airwaves. The trash talk that feeds the frenzy of negativity. The trash talk that creates misery around a season that has the chance to produce the biggest pots of all.