A lot of talk has been circulating about the need to purchase a new striker next season. Many mention Adebayor’s inconsistency and lack of efficiency, Eduardo’s inevitable lengthy recovery, Robin Van Persie’s injury riddled career and the youth of Nicklas Bendtner. On the other hand, some argue that we have plenty of options. We have Ade, RVP, Bendtner and Walcott for the beginning of next season, but we have Vela coming in and Eduardo poised to return. So who is right?
The fact is that they both, in a way, are right. On the one hand we do have a lot of strikers, but on the other hand, those strikers come with an asterisks.
Adebayor: Ade has had a great season. 30 goals is quite an accomplishment, especially for someone seeing their first full year as the number one at one of the worlds top clubs. At only 24, Adebayor will continue to get better and mature, which is fantastic news for Arsenal fans. But, as it is, Ade is not a finished product and he cannot do it all by himself. Adebayor will deliver next season, but it takes more than one player to win a title.
Robin Van Persie: There is little doubt that when healthy Robin possesses the talent to become on of the best players in the world. But there in lies the problem, [i]when[/i] he is healthy. Over the last several season Gooners have seen moments of his brilliance, but his legacy with Arsenal so far has been marred by long stretches on the injury table. The man may have talent but he is far from reliable week in week out.
Eduardo: Eduardo had the makings of a fantastic first campaign and a wonderful partnership with fellow striker Emmanuel Adebayor. However, a vicious tackle at Birmingham ruled him out for the rest of this season and most of next. And if we are to be honest, it is highly unlikely that he will be seen back on the pitch until at least February.
Nicklas Bendtner: A solid return this season for the young Dane. And in recent weeks he has shown potential to move from an old school center forward role to more of a link up role, like Bergkamp. As bright as his future might be, he is still young and learning and he is not ready to last a large part of a tough campaign as a starter. He will undoubtedly play a larger role next season but Bendtner still needs to do some maturing before he is ready to start week in week out.
Theo Walcott: Walcott has been the one glimmer of hope towards the end of a disappointing season. He as really matured into quite the player and we all look forward to seeing what he can do next season. But if one looks at where Walcott has been most deadly this season, it is not up front but on the wings. Walcott lacks the physique to play up in the box. He is too small and too weak to deal with large, burly center backs. On top of this, playing to far forward takes away from Walcott’s greatest asset, his pace. If we look back on where Walcott has been at his best this season it has been when he was when he received the ball on the wings up towards the half way line and had room to run. Walcott seems to have a real future with the club, but as a winger and not a striker. Next season he should really focus on playing out wide instead of up in the box.
Carlos Vela: While the young Mexican did have a rather successful U 20 World Cup as a striker, the youngster has played all season on the left wing in the midfield for Spanish outfit Osasuna, which also happens to be the roll he now fills for the senior Mexican squad. On top of all this, he is still just 19 years of age and has never played a game in the Premier League, so how much can we honestly expect from him next season?
This leads me to my point: Arsenal should loan a striker, not buy one. When we analyze the true striking options for next season we appear to be stretched. Ade will surely be our number one with RVP partnering with him. But, as we have seen over three years now Van Persie is unreliable to be fit and will undoubtedly be out for periods of time this coming season. Bendtner is our third option but again, he is young and inconsistent and if RVP goes out, we would have little cover for Bendtner and Ade if one of them were to become injured as well. When Eduardo comes back, it will certainly be a boost but that wont be for quite some time and even then, it will take even more time for his to get back in the game. And while Walcott and Vela can both play up front, their speed and skill is better utilized on the wings rather than up front. Their focus should be giving us depth, speed and width next season, not playing up in the box.
In light of this, it would be most prudent to bring in another striker, such as Huntelaar or Mario Gomez on loan for a season with the option to buy. This would give us the depth we need next season as well as the flexibility we would require for future seasons. By going with the loan option we would be able to cover Eduardo and Van Persie for the next season without having to be tied down to anything should Van Persie manage to complete an injury free season and Eduardo manage to make a superb comeback and achieve the same form we saw this season. However, should the need arise to replace one of our strikers in seasons to come (a la Eduardo requires more time to get back to his same level or Van Persie fails to prove he can deliver) then having the option to purchase a striker like Huntelaar or Gomez come the end of next season could prove incredibly valuable, especially since they would have already played in the EPL with us for an entire season.
With Eduardo sure to be back for the 2009/2010 campaign Arsenal’s striker force will unquestionably be bolstered but his certain absence for most of next season combined with Robin’s inability to stay fit is a huge concern for Arsenal’s title assault. Bring in a striker on loan would allow us to add depth to the roster without running the risk of over crowding the position in the long run.
Triplec1988, proud member of The GoonerForum