Stuck in the middle with who?
Having sold Adebayor in the summer Wenger flirted with the prospect of signing another forward. The question wasn`t whether we had enough strikers, even without Togo`s finest we had van Persie, Bendtner, Eduardo and Vela plus Walcott who could 'do a job` along with Arshavin. Wenger had considered Chamakh seriously enough to put a bid in for him but not as seriously as to meet the self confessed inflated fee demanded by the Bordeaux chairman.
It wasn`t numbers that Wenger was concerned about just the type of striker. The idea that van Persie could play as a front man was one that had been tried before with some success but not for any great period of time. Doubts remained about van Persie, as they would have done about Bendtner despite his size and apparent physical presence, as a target man. Eventually Arsene, contented with the physical condition of Eduardo, decided that we had enough to go with. After all, with that many forwards we would have to be extremely unlucky on the injury front to be given any real problems, and what were the chances of that happening- eh?
However the concept of target men forwards was never consistently Wenger`s style though he did have Mark Hateley leading the line at Monaco for a while. While at Arsenal he had never really deployed such a player having moved John Hartson on very quickly. Adebayor was as close as he came to the percentage ball hit man in the 13 seasons he has been at the club. This season so far has been notable for the goals that have come from areas of the pitch other than our forwards. In fact Ade`s departure seemed to mark a return to a faster moving, short quick and fluid passing game that characterised the play of players like Henry, Pires and Bergkamp.
Since the injury to van Persie, at a time when Bendtner is also out, Wenger has tried Eduardo, Vela and Arshavin in different games. Arshavin seemed to work the better of these options but so far only at home against modest opposition. Nonetheless it is likely to be a tactic which will continue against Liverpool at the weekend, the venue for an unforgettably sparkling individual performance from Arshavin last season.
Walcott seems confident that the Russian playmaker will assume the role successfully: "Andrey did a great job against Stoke and hopefully he can perform again.
"You always want to be on his team in training. He gets all the goals and is a bubbly character."
Fabregas was quoted in the week as claiming that we have too many forwards of the same style and need more options: "We had a lot of similar players who like the ball into their feet. Sometimes it's true that you need a different kind of option." He claimed after the Chelsea game before adding, "Perhaps we had the same kind of problem against Chelsea as the boys had at Manchester City, not really having someone whose game is to go beyond defenders, and we were a little small to fight against them on crosses, too."
For me Eduardo looks more than capable with his intelligent movement to get beyond defenders but a series of niggling injuries has blunted his match sharpness for the present. However he isn`t the physical presence that Arshavin seems to pack into his rather smaller frame if Andrey`s efforts against a physically strong Stoke side are to be any guide.
The Russian doesn`t see himself as a natural centre forward: "I can't say that centre forward is my position, I am more of a second striker," Arshavin told the Russian press after the game having notched up his 100th career goal against Stoke, while feeling he should have had more ".....as a centre forward I had many chances to start my second century, but managed to score only once."
With Bendtner not due back until the New Year the hope must be that we find a consistent combination that works pretty quickly. The Liverpool game could tell us just how near or far we might be to achieving that while also helping to determine just how much effort Arsene will put into bringing in a different kind of forward in the January window.
Message Board To visit the message board, click here. Get involved