Arsene Wenger Is Right, Arsenal Don't Need a New Striker

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistJuly 21, 2014

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 28:  Arsene Wenger manager of Arsenal reacts s he looks to Olivier Giroud of Arsenal during the Barclays Premier League match between Southampton and Arsenal at St Mary's Stadium on January 28, 2014 in Southampton, England.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

It probably wasn't well received when he said it, but Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is absolutely right to say his team doesn't need to sign a new striker.

Wenger made the likely unpopular claim after the Gunners beat Boreham Wood 2-0 in a friendly, per London Evening Standard reporter Richard Parry:

Up front we don't need any more. It's not especially for numbers.

We need a goalkeeper for sure and, after that, it depends on how our midfielders get through without injuries until the start of the season. Maybe at centre-back we'll still bring one in.

To many, this will be seen as a dangerous choice by Wenger, hubris against the idea of his attack being stretched to breaking point. That's what happened last season when towering target man Olivier Giroud was worn down by a gruelling workload.

Giroud shouldered a heavy burden last season.
Giroud shouldered a heavy burden last season.Paul Gilham/Getty Images

Wenger only had French youngster Yaya Sanogo in reserve, or worse still, the perennially disappointing Nicklas Bendtner. Sanogo remains extremely raw and has yet to score for the Gunners, despite being trusted for some big games by Wenger.

The situation was compounded by lengthy injuries to Lukas Podolski and particularly Theo Walcott. It also didn't help that Wenger has a hard time trusting Podolski through the middle, although not without good cause.

That much of this same meagre supporting cast remains will make many nervous about Wenger's latest reticence to add a striker. Aside from Bendtner finally being released, the Gunners are still committed to the development of Sanogo, the application of Podolski and the fitness of Walcott.

Speaking of fitness, it's probably Giroud's health, or ability to stay healthy, that remains the most pressing issue. However, all of this merely frames the supposed problem. It also doesn't tell the whole story.

Wenger has added to his attack this summer, and in a big way. Spending close to £35 million on Chile sensation Alexis Sanchez has to qualify as reinforcing the forward line:

For those who will protest Sanchez is not a striker, it seems the man who paid the fee to sign him doesn't agree. Wenger dubbed Sanchez a "modern striker," per an interview with Eurosport.

Of course, that doesn't necessarily mean Wenger will always play Sanchez as a striker, but it does imply he knows he can. The player has thrived in more central positions for Chile.

Walcott is another player Wenger can call a striker. In fact, the England international probably wishes his club manager would call him that more often.

Walcott had a number of successful forays through the middle for the Gunners during the 2012/13 season. He has always coveted making the transition from the flanks a full-time one.

Walcott is still recovering from the serious knee injury he suffered against north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur back in January. However, Wenger recently confirmed the player is "progressing" and that he expects Walcott in full training by late August, per

Having a player back who scored six goals in only 18 appearances last season will be a major boost to the attack. So will the arrival of Costa Rica star Joel Campbell.

Wenger hasn't had the luxury of utilising one of the stars of the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Campbell has been on loan the last three seasons awaiting the resolution of work permit issues.

But following his series of quality performances in Brazil, Campbell is now ready to return. Like Walcott, Campbell primarily plays wide, but he was signed as a striker.

Wenger has already stated Campbell will get his chances to impress this pre-season, per Daily Mail writer Matt Lawton.

The arrival of Sanchez and Campbell, combined with the return of Walcott, has given Wenger three forwards he didn't have last season. All three offer the lightning pace and devilish movement that pose a different problem for defenders than Giroud's blend of strength and technical savvy.

That's not to say that what Giroud does isn't invaluable. His ability to hold off markers and win the power battle for possession, along with his aerial prowess, makes Giroud a critical outlet.

He is the obvious physical presence in a team still littered with slight, diminutive midfield playmakers. Arsenal don't possess the imposing strength or dynamic athleticism to win many contested scraps.

Launching a ball for Giroud to win and retain is a great way to bypass the congestion in the middle, the swarm that so often engulfs Arsenal's tiny tots.

It also helps that Giroud has a happy knack for combining with midfield runners via clever flicks and touches. That's a crucial element in how this Arsenal team moves forward.

Another new striker would have to be able to play the same vital link role.

Giroud does vital work for Arsenal.
Giroud does vital work for Arsenal.Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

The problem is there aren't that many around who fit the mould, at least not top-quality options who do. Somebody such as rugged Croatian pillar of strength Mario Mandzukic would have been a great recruit.

However, he has since been snapped up by La Liga winners Atletico Madrid, per Sky Sports. There are not many other strikers who fit the physical requirements Arsenal need at centre-forward and who are significantly more prolific than Giroud.

That's not to say the Frenchman doesn't need to work on his finishing. He certainly does, as you can still never completely trust Giroud in front of goal.

However, he has registered some improvement in that area, netting 22 goals in his second Arsenal season after scoring 17 in his debut year, per

Wenger will count on the ex-Montpellier star continuing to refine his game. To that end, the Gunners chief has already urged Giroud to vary his movement, according to L'Equipe (h/t Nick Wright of

Wenger will also hope to accelerate the development of Sanogo. For all his struggles finding the net, Sanogo still boasts promising potential.

His height and physical power are impressive, qualities that revealed themselves when he started during the winning FA Cup run. Adding guile and composure to the raw tools has to be the next step.

Sanogo will find no better teacher than Wenger. The master developer of talent made successful strikers out of Thierry Henry, Robin van Persie and Emmanuel Adebayor. He can get Sanogo to deliver.

Wenger entered the summer needing reinforcements in attack. But it wasn't central areas where that need was greatest. The bigger need was a pacy wide player with the ability to drift through the middle.

Sanchez amply answers that need. With Walcott and possibly Campbell around, Wenger can vary the type of forward line he employs, as well as finally possessing the right complement for Giroud's power.

If he carries on spending, Wenger should think about recruiting some of that power for his central midfield ranks. But he's certainly right to back away from signing another striker.


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