Much has been made of Arsene Wenger’s failure to buy a world class striker this summer. With Podolski out injured, Walcott misfiring, and Sanogo looking for a job with the Royal Mail, we are short of options upfront. However, lacking options in no way means we lack quality. Oliver Giroud has been a revelation so far this season. With four goals in as many starts in the Premier League this season, Olivier looks set to bulldoze his way to being a key player for Arsenal, much in the way Walcott did last season. To buy a world class striker now would be criminal; shattering Giroud’s new found confidence and ruining our chance of crafting yet another world beater from a player we paid around £12 million for last summer. No, Arsenal does not need a 20 plus-goals-a-season player. They need Suarez… but not the one biting defenders.
Matias Suarez, a name familiar to some Arsenal fans, could very well prove a smart and crucial January addition. Linked with Arsenal throughout most of the 2011/12 summer transfer window, the Argentinean has so far failed to seal a move away from Anderlecht, the current Belgium champions. A tricky and technical striker, the 25 year old is also capable of playing on both flanks, or just behind the striker in the no.10 role. He would be capable of providing ample cover for Podolski, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Cazorla on the left, and also tough competition for both Walcott on the right and Giroud in the centre. In fact, Suarez is already trying his best to outdo Giroud- scoring 6 goals in his 7 league appearances this season. A purchase in January would not only give Wenger a player entering his prime, but one with a hunger to continue his scintillating form so far this season.
With an estimated cost of around £12 million, Matias Suarez wouldn’t dry up too much of Arsene’s war chest, giving him the ability to go and pull off another “Ozil deal” to appease the fans. And that could be exactly what is needed to elevate Arsenal to a team capable of beating the very best.
It could be argued that Arsenal currently lacks a world class winger; something which all other top teams have in abundance. Barcelona have Neymar and Pedro, Real Madrid have Ronaldo and Angel Di Maria, Bayern Munich have Robben and Ribery, Manchester City have Jesus Navas- the list goes on. Arsenal certainly have quality players capable of playing out wide, but the only true winger in the current squad is Ryo Miyaichi. Walcott treats his position more like right forward than right winger, and the same can be said for Podolski on the opposite flank. Cazorla’s time on the left wing has only gone as far as the team sheet- when the whistle blows he cuts inside and plays as an attacking midfielder. Oxlade-Chamberlain also considers himself an attacking midfielder by trade, not a skilled winger who wants to hug the touchline all game. If Arsenal are to see the full benefits of their possession game, then a top quality winger is a must have. Not only would it give us another match winner, capable of taking on players and whipping in crosses all game; it would help us stretch the opposition. The wider our team, the easier it is to pull opposition defences out of position, creating gaps players like Giroud, Cazorla and Ozil can exploit with ease. And of course, a winger able to supply decent crosses to Giroud for 90 minutes each game gives him an even greater chance of winning the golden boot this season.
So, after consideration, the benefits of purchasing a world class winger far outweigh the benefits of buying a world class striker. At this point in time, buying the likes of Luis Suarez or Rooney to replace Olivier Giroud is essentially paying upwards of £40 million to replace a 20 plus-goals-a-season striker with… another 20 plus-goals-a-season striker. Matias Suarez would give us the leeway needed to bring in that winger we really need. Paying £50 million for Luis Suarez would end all hope for gaining that special wide man.
Buying a striker costing less than £30 million is not a step backwards for Arsenal. Buying a striker to replace Giroud is.
Photo via RuaraidhG – http://www.flickr.com/photos/ruaraidhg/