Who needs a striker with this marauding midfield?

We don’t need another striker to support or compete with Olivier Giroud. He’s doing quite well for himself, thank you very much, but, more importantly, we’ll soon see a few players return to fitness. For as strong as we’ve started, it shouldn’t come as a surprise as the early fixtures favor us a bit. Napoli was arguably our sternest test, and we passed with flying colors, but there’s quite a gauntlet still to run. It’s therefore more than a bit exciting to think that, with the returns of players like Santi Cazorla, Tomáš Rosický, Lukas Podolski, Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and Mikel Arteta; the continued bedding-in of Matthieu Flamini, Serge Gnabry, and Mesut Özil; and the re-emergences of Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey, we might even be looking to build on this early run of form to create something truly special.

The one area of weakness, such as it is, would appear to be that center-forward spot. Giroud is off to a fine start, but, should he suffer a knock, we might have to throw on the greenhorn Yaya Sanogo (or play Podolski or Walcott through the center). None of these options inspire much confidence, certainly not in the long run. as each forces players to do more than they’re capable of. We have yet to see much of anything from Sanogo, thanks to his injury, and it’s unlikely that he’ll dazzle when he does return. Playing Podolski or Walcott in the center is a strategy that is at least tried, if not true. Given the lack of genuine options, at least until January, there is one solution on offer that might just make us all forget the shortage of options at the top of the attack.

I’m speaking, of course, of our embarrassment of riches in the midfield. Already at our disposal, we have Flamini, Arteta, Ramsey, Wilshere, Gnabry, Özil, and Rosický. That’s just a listing of who’s fit. To that list we’ll soon be adding Cazorla, Walcott, Podolski, and the Ox. Admitting that certain players are better at some things than others, that’s eleven men who could rotate through six spots. Should Giroud lose his form or suffer an injury, we could send out as many as eleven midfielders who could conceivably flow through any number of positions, committing to their preferences and skill-sets. Ramsey, Arteta, and Flamini, while focusing on the double-pivot in front of the defense, could bomb forward as needed. Wilshere, Gnabry, Özil, Rosický, Cazorla, Ox, Walcott, and Podolski might then roam as they see fit.

It’s not as far-fetched as it may seem. For example, Spain’s national team has, at times, deployed an attack that features midfielders exclusively, and this plays to the strengths and form of the players they have available. Torres and Villa have had their moments, it’s true, but given the choice between them or, say, Fabregas through the middle, it’s hard to argue against Fabregas.

We could do worse, therefore, than to field six midfielders without an out-and-out striker. As much as we may fret over Giroud’s ability to sustain his current form over the long term, we have players who can still strike fear into the hearts of opposing defenses. With a midfield rotation of Arteta, Ramsey, and Flamini at its base, and with some combination of Wilshere, Gnabry, Özil, Rosický, Cazorla, Walcott, Podolski, and the Ox on the attack, there are few squads who could stop us. In fact, for as good as he’s been to date, Giroud might in some ways impede our attack. As a focal point, he lacks pace. Without him, we might even see a more-fluid, tiki-taka style in which six (or more) technically-gifted and fleet-of-foot footballers flummox and then eviscerate opposing defenses:

  • Defender #1: where’s Özil?
  • Defender #2: I thought you were marking him!
  • Defender #1: I was, but he dropped back, so I picked up Rosický!
  • Defender #3: What? I’m tracking Rosický!
  • Defender #2: What? He’s playing down our right side and you’re our right-back—aren’t you? We’re getting pulled out of shape!
  • Defender #4: I’m lost! I was tracking Cazorla on our right, but now he’s on the opposite side. Should I follow him or stay home?
  • Keeper: Too late. They scored while you guys were getting sorted. Thanks for nothing.
And so on. We’re hardly a “total football” club by any stretch of the imagination, but we do have a number of players who can fill a wide variety of roles. Heck, we even have a few defenders versatile enough to play in more-forward roles should the occasion permit. Vermaelen’s name has been bandied about, for example, as a defensive midfielder, such is his willingness to bomb forward. It’s not for nothing that we’ve seen goals already from Gibbs, Mertesacker, and Sagna; or that Koscielny netted against Newcastle to secure our 4th place finish last year (and almost did so again against Napoli).
For as much as we talk about positions and squad-depth, then, it’s worth remembering that, when healthy, we can field a starting XI that can instill fear in opposing defenses, dominate possession, play beautiful football, and win matches. Come January, of course, it might be nice to see us add another striker to support and compete with Giroud. Until then, I rather like the idea of an amoeba-esque attack, with any number of midfielders marauding around the pitch. It takes a certain amount of communication, of course, to insure that defensive responsibilities are attended to, but the attacking possibilities seem limitless. 
We could do worse than to rest Giroud on Sunday against West Brom. Befuddling the Baggies with an (apparently) amorphous midfield might just see us nab our 13th straight away-win, a club record as far as I can figure. 
Right. We have a fair few days before that match with West Brom. There’s apparently some footballing of some sort on Thursday night, but I can’t quite put my finger on what it is…whatever. If it was important, I’m sure I’d remember what it is. So it goes. Before you go, I’d like to thank you for visiting and invite you to vote in the Football Blogging Awards, in which Woolwich 1886 is up for a best new blog. You can click here to vote via twitter or here to receive an email ballot. Thanks!

Average rating 0 / 5. Vote count: 0

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.

18 thoughts on “Who needs a striker with this marauding midfield?

  1. Anonymous

    I disagree with the giroud has no pace comment. Take the goal against napoli he scored he layed the ball for ozil then ran in to the box and got the tap in. He may not have pace to carry him 50 yards + but he has the burst in the final third and hes a cf and his hold up play this season has been aome of the best ive seen.

  2. Anonymous

    Getting carried away here. Stay grounded. ARSENAL NEEDS A WORLD CLASS STRIKER. Yes Giroud is playing well but we still need a world class complete CF. A striker with some flare, quick feet, dribbling, can produce something out of nothing (unpredictability) and can make chances for themselves and score. Its more options and a better chance at winning. We had those before…e.g Henry, RVP, Bergkamp. That's what will complete Arsenal.

  3. Anonymous

    Giroud is no doubt a good striker. He has been fantastic this season and his hold-up play has really helped the team. He is hardworking, good in the air and he has a good understanding with Theo, Rambo and Ozil…but hey, we need anoda striker to compete with him. He will benefit from a healthy competition. I think Arsene should make another enquiry for Demba Ba in January. COYG!

  4. Anonymous

    I'm not too happy with leaving Bendtner out of the back-up list; IMO he is a better 'lone' striker than both Poldi and Walcott and isn't too far behind Giroud on his day – I know I know. What I'm driving at is that we aren't as dire in depth in the strikers position as it's been made out to be. Besides, Giroud have a very good injury record, or lack of.

  5. Anonymous

    Hey!u guyz r leaving the young Chuba Akpom out.agreed he's still young $ nids time but in as much as he gets more playing time,I think he will fill the void should we loose Giroud!I'll strongly recommend we get another striker(Top Class)come January!

  6. Anonymous

    Giroud is another monster in the box…if we are talking about striking fear.Its not all about his massive structure…its his ability to read play..ghost past defenders and invariably get in front of them to receive a pass…its an uncanny ability to shift to space..or find an immaculate touch that beats the keeper (a la Totteringham).Not to mention the fact that the team has gelled so well that he has the confidence to lay off to a player in a better position even though it means losing the chance to make history (his pass to Ramsey against Swansea when he could have joined an elite club of only 2 other strikers to score in the first 7 matches of a season)Arsene has built up the team around him…one seriously doubts that the manager went in for Giroud and then was like – 'Whoopsie…this boy is not like our Van Persie or Henry…what do I do now?!'The only problem I had with him was in his first season cos whenever I heard commentators take his name..for a few heart-stopping moments I would assume they said – Djourou…but all is well now :PC'mon guys cut it out and stop giving him so much flak..he has been amazing. Go Giroud

  7. Anonymous

    I cant see Wenger going out and spending big on a forward in Jan should Giroud keep up this form and I think you are doing him a great disservice by saying that he could be a limiting factor in our attack. Yes he is not blindingly quick but his movement off the ball and the timing of his runs in the box have improved massively this season. You wont see better timed running from a centre forward than the goals against Spuds and Napoli. And even goals that are scored by more speedy players braking into the box will nearly always start with Giroud getting the ball with his back to goal, often containing 2 defenders before releasing one of our players down the wing. Poldi and Theo are both very different strikers to Giroud and the closest thing we have to him is Bendy. Like it or not we should start giving Bendy more time on the pitch so that should we ever really need him at least his is somewhat familiar with the role.

  8. Anonymous

    Giroud has a huge amount of speed i shall say..but not dribbling skill..thats y he was always seen as a player with no pace..anyway,every club needs a world class striker..but i dun really feel AW will get one let alone this january..we hv sanogo, bendtner and of course akpom to shine..lets not get our hopes too high on the arrival of world class striker otherwise #wengerout movement will bark again if they are dissapointed..bringing another cf or having 10 world class striker in the team is definitely a gud team but thats not arsenal at all & it will disrupt giroud progress n development or the other 9 world class striker..our formation now is with 1 striker and of course the subs striker should be at a subs level of quality or else he wont be happy playing as a subs' role..to conclude im pretty happy with the current squad thinking that we hv young cf to shine as giroud replacemet with our scoring midfielders in form to lessen the goal scoring responsibilities totally on the cf's shoulder..sincerely, khairul – malaysian true gunners..cheers buddies

  9. Anonymous

    Someone mentioned RVP and what he might have doen with this squad. Personally, had he stayed last year, MU would not have finished on top and AFC would have been 2nd or 3rd. Now however, do you think that between injuries (you knew they would come eventually given his history) and what is now occurring at MU, he regrets leaving AFC? Of course he did win a cup and make lots more money, but…….

  10. Anonymous

    Hi Jon, nice article, well-written as always. First of all, I want to make clear that I believe you are partially right when it comes to the situation regarding the centre forward position: As much as you're right about the fact that our midfield has been in astounding goal scoring form, we are, as you say, yet to face really tough opposition. I feel we have to wait until after the scary period of fixtures coming up. Yes, I'm thinking Chelski, Liverfool, Dortmund and Man Ure in November. In terms of adopting a sort of Spain National Team offense, I think it is a plan deemed to fail, playing with a 'false #9' – The Prem is much more physical than some of the international teams that Spain face during World Cups and the Euros. While I feel our team is strong enough to mount a title challenge right now, I believe it is down to the fact that our rivals are going through managerial transitions, that are resulting in errors. That means we might not necessarily have been at the top of the Prem, had SAF not retired. But then again, as Wenger puts it himself: Concentrate on your own performances. As I alreadt said, I think the current team is a really strong one. Although, I feel backup for Giroud would be a great thing, and Lacina Traore of Anzhi Makhachkala would be a great acquisition; He's young, talented and he would come cheap. Sources are saying he could be allowed to leave for as little as €9 million. Anyone unfamiliar with the situation of Anzhi should read this article: http://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/european/europa-league-tottenham-ready-to-face-anzhi-makhachkala-side-shorn-of-expensive-talent-8854707.htmlAnyways, let's pick up this discussion come January 😉

  11. Anonymous

    1 of Rooney or Reus ideally from a pricing perspective also. Even balotelli or suarez fit the bill( but these ones can be crazy in the head though). If not, then 1 of El shaarawy, Luis muriel, Benzema or Benteke. We just need extra quality and something different upront to mix up things. A forward more versatile that can play on the wings or even drop deeper for the ball sometimes. TBH we woudn't need one if we somehow hung on to RVP. I think Giroud is good and he should keep on but a game changer forward is needed. Someone that can pick the ball up in a tight game, run, skip past defenders, dribble, unleash a shot whaam! we win from nothing. We need someone upfront that can do that. Giroud has some good qualities but I don't think he can do any of what I described above. Its not in his locker and that's his make up so its understandable. Our other strikers are far less than giroud so it tells the story. Balance upfront is needed as well just like how you have an expert tackler and magic maestro in the midfield. The balance upfront provides you with different dimensions of attacking. Right now we just have 1 dimension and for this to keep working the midfield will have to always be on their game and score a lot also. E.g Ramsey's goals this season and Carzola's last season. This is not so bad though because it encourages team effort. But there are some crucial games in the season where you need that special forward that will produce magic and win games. Ozil and Ramsey especially are on fire but what if both are having an off day? where does giroud get the supplies from then? If you have forwards like RVP, suarez, balotelli, rooney etc upfront they come alive in those games because they can make things happen on their own. For now and hopefully all season giroud keeps playing like he played especially in the Napoli and Swansea games or not far off and he will eventually raise his game some notches more. Hopefully he does not get injured also because no other striker or winger except Gnabry can fill in and play with some quality upfront until Podolski and Theo are back sometime in december and mid-november respectively if i heard right.

  12. Anonymous

    Your wrong. We don't need a back up for Giroud that's regressing, a CF about 2 or 3 levels better is progression. A CF that can do 21 to 30 in the EPL and 30 to 40 all competitions. If you just want a back up to giroud we have BENDTNER. Where does that get us if we have another back up? Right now we need a star CF not a bench or sub striker. A star CF will mean Giroud getting more bench time. If our other striking option is bringing on giroud from the bench in a match, then it means we have an outstanding team.

  13. Anonymous

    I get your point, but I don't agree. It was never Wenger's philosophy to buy a direct replacement for a player who is still in the team, and thankfully so. A team in balance needs backups who provide stiff competitiom for all starting spots, but to be fair, getting a player like Rooney or Suarez would ruin Giroud, and that would be a terrible shame. I don't know if you ever played football or another team sport, but the way you describe transfer dealings is not how you run a club! Furthermore, did you ever watch Lacina Traoré? He is very talented, great technique and extremely good in the air. He would provide tough competition for Giroud, and that is what we need – someone to keep him on his toes. I might sound archaic, but you have to be realistic. It's not like I wouldn't be delighted seeing Rooney in an Arsenal shirt, and who had seen the arrival of Özil coming?

  14. Anonymous

    Exactly, getting higher quality only improves the chances of the team winning trophies. Ruining giroud? Who cares about Giroud's feelings? He's making some good money. Could give a damn. Just want Arsenal to be strong enough to win. Its not like he is a Messi, RVP or very special that if you lose him you know you lost a player. We need a very special striker. The best teams in the world have 2 or 3 special forwards. Why can't we have just 1? That's all we need. Giroud can play back up. He will be a very good back up. Lacina might be good, but you need someone like Rooney, Balotelli, reus etc that you know can surely push Giroud out easily for the spot. Then that makes Giroud work harder as well.


Leave a Reply