Xhaka, Götze and champions but for a post

By Daniel Cowan
In Arsenal
May 18th, 2016


According to the wonderful people at Opta, Arsenal would have won the Premier League this season if shots against the post or bar had gone in. This isn’t entirely surprising considering we hit the woodwork more than any other Premier League team and boast the greatest playmaker in the business.

Surely, this more than anything else, highlights our need for a new striker? Yes and no. I’ve never been in the ‘FFS Giroud he’s such a donkey’ crowd and still maintain that we can win the title with Giroud in the team – ah, the sweet equanimity of foolishness.

Leicester, deserving champions as they were, boasted a phenomenal conversion rate that just isn’t sustainable over more than a season. However, I kept predicting they’d fall out of the race and was left with ostrich egg on my face so shouldn’t really make such bold statements about the Foxes.
Arsenal on the other hand were pretty profligate in front of goal. To make matters worse, what shots they didn’t spurn were either athletically stopped by Lev Yashin incarnate or hit the post. Arsenal hit the woodwork a massive 21 times this past season and had every team’s shots against the woodwork gone in Arsenal would have finished top of the table by way of goal difference. Hilariously, Spurs would fall down to eighth.

I don’t think Giroud is a particularly bad striker but he is a massively streaky one and once his head gets down it can take a long time for him to score his way out of a funk. He started this season in fine goal-scoring fashion but it must be noted that he was coming on in place of Walcott who had run defences ragged – in what proved to be a promising stint as a striker that we’ve all conveniently forgotten as we look for another scapegoat.

Giroud’s woes in front of goal really came to a head when he was our only fit striker. I wouldn’t want to suggest he had no motivation to perform better but I do feel a lack of ability to rotate coupled with our general malaise kept his brown patch going longer than usual. By the time Welbeck was starting ahead of him he looked deflated. The crowd was turning sour – not that I am blaming the fans! – and he probably did what far too many Arsenal players do and played in his head too much.

With Welbeck now injured until next February/March again it is likely we will buy another striker and I think it is crucial that we buy someone completely different to Giroud – a poacher if you will. More importantly though, I think we need to find a solution to our Santi shaped problem. The result against Villa demonstrated how much we had missed having him as a secondary playmaker and we must ensure we have an alternative should injury befall him again. If we can recruit additional creativity in midfield then I’m confident enough to use my sign up bonuses to bet on Arsenal finishing next season as champions and top scorers.

One such midfielder rumoured to be available is Mario Götze. As he is entering the final year of his contract at Bayern and has been relatively unfavoured by Pep Guardiola he may be looking for a move. Now, with Carlo Ancelotti coming in he may believe he has a better chance of making it into the team on a more regular basis but I’m hoping he just fancies a change. I think he would be fantastic at Arsenal and Wenger is precisely the sort of manager he would thrive under. He wouldn’t be cheap, despite his contract situation, but we’ve got to the point now where money really shouldn’t mean that much to us. Sure, we still have a budget and have to be sensible with our cash but we’re no longer in a position where we have to sell – take note for Wilshere who is a supposed target for Man City – to make ends meet and we have enough reserves to spend big and still have more cash than anyone else.


Spending isn’t a weakness of Wenger’s at all – I think that is a factoid that lacks nuance. Wenger has shown he will spend big – on the right player. What constitutes ‘the right player’ is open for debate but I sometimes feel we ignore the real questions in favour of assuming we haven’t bought X player we like because Wenger is tight – see Schneiderlin. Perhaps we should be pondering and discussion why Wenger doesn’t think that player is ‘the right player’ instead of claiming he’s a cheap-skate.

The signings of Alexis and Özil didn’t quite convince people he isn’t tight but perhaps Granit Xhaka will. It’s reported that Wenger will secure the signature of the Swiss player before the month is out for a fee of £34m. That’s €45m for a defensive midfielder – of sorts. See this wonderful article on Goonersphere to learn more about Xhaka. If that doesn’t convince you Wenger isn’t scared to spend then you’re a lost cause. You’ve bought into the narrative so much you’re now unable to see the wood for the trees.

Wenger has claimed he will only sign three players this summer and I hope he means starters as I feel like we probably need 2-3 squad players as well. Arteta was arguably replaced by Elneny ahead of schedule and Xhaka is hopefully taking up Flamini’s spot. We’re still in need of a striker and probably a centre-back too unless we plan to utilise Chambers more. After that I think we could do with another wide player, someone who will stretch play as our current wide players prefer to cut inside.

My ideal summer would be Xhaka, Götze, Morata, Coman and Dragovic but that’s pie in the sky.

That’s all for today. Leave a comment with your summer wishlist.

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About "" - 509 Posts

I am a South London born Gooner now living in Leigh-On-Sea, Essex. I'm a husband, daddy, podcaster, trainer enthusiast and aspiring author. My work is my passion and for that I will always be grateful. Here is where I write my thoughts and views on Arsenal Football Club, the greatest team the world has ever seen.

3 Responses to “Xhaka, Götze and champions but for a post”

  1. Paul says:

    I get the feeling that the three signings mentioned are pure first team and possibly the additional squad players are being moved up from the youth. Jenkinson, Chambers and young Chiori Johnson can cover the energiser bunny that is Bellerin. Left back seems to be a much talked about spot as Gibbs look certain to leave for his own benefit! But moving up front, can see the likes of Adelaide, Willock, Gnabry and Hinds taking revolving bench spots behind Sanchez, Iwobi and Chamberlain as the wing options, but it does look thin beyond that. I can’t seen the defence being strengthened if I’m honest, maybe Chambers moving up to take Mertesacker’s spot 3 and possibility of Bielik or Pleguezelo getting game time. They’re good if they’re protected, so Xhaka helps on that front. So the other two players could be a wide player and a striker. Xhaka, Gotze and Morata would be a dream trio. Would be a battle with Liverpool to get Gotze.. so all supporting Sevilla tonight?

    • Daniel Cowan says:

      I hope you’re right buddy. I’d like to see more of our youth players but I’m not sure too many are ready to step up. I hope I’m wrong on that.

  2. Chip says:

    I think Coman would be a stretch, he had a great debut season at Bayern (which was a loan-to-buy agreement) so his final purchase should be finalised this summer. Still on the fence about Xhaka and Morata, they would be improvements on the current squad but they aren’t world beaters. If we’re going to spend big why not spend on the best in the league, Aubameyang and Higuain had incredible seasons, put in bids for them! My dream would be Kante and Higuain but honestly I see the board buying Xhaka and possibly Morata then giving young Gideon Zalalem a promotion to the first team after a good season at Rangers and Wenger saying (He’s like a new signing). Hope I’m wrong and we get all 3 as Paul said. #COYG

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