Xhaka, Götze and champions but for a post
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.
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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