January Window Musings

The case for un-sexy this January

Striker, striker, and more striker talk.  Every team, every window, its all about the strikers.  They get all of the attention, they score the goals, they get the girls.  I haven’t been any less guilty either.  The summer before last when we brought in Giroud I was already looking for a better option, having no confidence he’d have anArsenal's Giroud celebrates after scoring a goal against Borussia Dortmund during their Champions League soccer match at the Emirates stadium in London impact.  Over this summer I was saying the same things.  Then what happens – Giroud comes out of the gates this season like a new man, and even sexier.  I have to adjust my opinions a bit, and am happy to do so.  So, do I still want a striker better than Giroud?  Absolutely.  But is that as easy as I thought it was this summer?  No.  Let’s face it, the bar has been raised by Giroud himself.  The list of ‘better than Giroud’ is considerably shorter than it was 6 months ago.

Should we go spunk it all on a such a fantastic, ‘better than Giroud’ striker?  Probably not this January.  I’m usually a bold move kinda guy and it hurts to type this, but honestly the price for someone that good, and in good form, is going to be extremely high.  And few will want to sell to us given our place and the threat it would create.  Just don’t see it happening, nor would I necessarily support spending the amount of money it would take (think astronomical, then go further) unless a truly unimaginable, and sexy (for pure sexiness, can you imagine adding Falcao next to Giroud?  Our female demographic would spike for sure), opportunity arose.

So where does that leave us then?  A ‘make up the numbers’ kind of striker?  I say no, why bother.  All this talk of also-ran strikers to give us depth – bah (pun not-intended)!  We need to stop acting like Walcott and Podolski are bums.  They are quality and, yes, can play striker.  And are a little sexy themselves (Have you seen Walcott’s bird?  And Podolski wins over the girls with his big gregarious personality).  Could we have such bad injury luck in the second half?  Perhaps, but I’m going to say unlikely.  One or both of them will probably be available.  (And our own Albanian Gooner recently wrote about Sonogo.  I may not share his optimism for an immediate impact, but cannot deny the potential coverage he could offer).  And are all of the names being tossed about better than Walcott and Podolski?  I say no, do not undervalue what we have.  And don’t get me started on this ‘lone striker’ qualifying stuff either, I see that as code for ‘target man’.  Many teams are successful without a ‘target man’, and we do not depend upon one.  With our silky smooth midfield we can play all sorts of styles.

So sign a striker just to make up the numbers?  I say no.  Because if you think of it in a numbers manner, we don’t need a striker – we need a center back.  All this debate about numbers for a role of 1 (striker, in our formation) – but too little attention to the depth for a role of 2 (center back).  Its un-sexy but its key (although Sagna’s wife… um… be back in a moment).  Center back is the position in which I do not understand Wenger’s moves.  We have three established center backs, and then Sagna.  Beyond that we’re looking to the academy – and our most experienced academy center back, Ignasi Miquel, was sent out on loan (I’m scratching my head and looking a bit bewildered as I type that).  I’d guess we’d look to Hayden, but thats a big big ask of him at this point in his career.

Koscielny1_2766350bJust imagine if we had the same injury luck in the back that we did up front (say, Kos and Verm got hurt like Walcott and Podolski did).  We’d be starting a back line of Gibbs – Mertesacker – Sagna – Jenkinson.  Serviceable, but not awe-inspiring and probably not as clean-sheety either.  And it also leaves no backup for center back and right back without dipping into the academy (or playing Monreal on the right).  Another injury and we’d really be in it.  Throwing Gnabry out there to go at defenses with our midfield to support him is an easy thing to do.  Throwing Hayden out there to lock down an opposing striker with the game on the line – not as attractive.  We’ve been very lucky with injuries in the back, and its masked this problem.

This is why I think a center back should be the priority in January.  We’re an injury away from being stretched with little options after.  At striker we have Walcott back and Podolski returning soon to give us options.  And again, 3 players for 1 spot looks much better than 3 players for 2.  It seems we want triple coverage for striker when we barely have double coverage at the back.  Lets not get distracted by the sexy.  I know it is difficult (I almost said ‘hard’, but that may have tipped the innuendo scales), but pragmatism is a virtue as well.

So this is the un-sexy article, placing center back over striker.  But when you look at the numbers and consider the risk – center back should be the focus.



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