Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger has been criticized by many for his mediocre approach when it comes to winning things. Arsenal have always had the capability of buying top class players, yet Wenger has always chosen to not spend the cash and instead preserve it for the future. That is, until recently.
Wenger has, or, at least, seems to have, changed his mentality when it comes to doing transfers and as such, Arsenal have acquired a few world class players over the recent years, Özil and Sanchez standing out the most out of all of them. Arsenal fans should be happy, even though there is still an obvious cause for concern.
Arsenal have been linked to all sorts of players in every single position over the last few years, but the positions that are the weakest in this Arsenal team are obvious to their oppositions, and sometimes they are punished for it. Coquelin, let’s be honest, is probably never going to be the player that’s going to propel Arsenal into the Premier League title, and neither is Giroud, even though he is currently on a hot run of form. Those two players offer very little besides their specific skillset in which they excel.
For example, Coquelin possesses an immense amount of talent when it comes to being aggressive and winning the ball back for the team. But, when it comes to the other aspects that are also very necessary for a defensive midfielder these days, like heading the ball (not counting his height), dribbling into advanced positions and out of trouble, and making good and accurate passes, he’s not as well equipped. These are things that are required in the modern game out of every player, virtually, except for the centre-backs (and the goalkeepers). The lack of skills in these areas make him an unnecessary burden that Arsenal bear when they transition from defense to attack. A player that doesn’t have these setbacks, like Porto’s Neves, Juve’s Pogba, Bayern’s Vidal, or Roma’s Nainggolan, could offer a different dimension to every single aspect of Arsenal’s play and improve them significantly.
Similarly, Giroud as a striker is quite a good option if you’re a team that crosses the ball a lot like Arsenal sometimes do. His link-up play isn’t bad either, though arguably not as good as his heading ability. The problem lies with his finishing when the ball is on any other part of his body other than his head. I know that he’s been putting those into the back of the net recently, and in abundance. But, for the most part, he’s getting a rub of the green every time he’s finishing. Even that, though, from my perspective, isn’t his biggest problem.
Strikers in the modern game are expected to run at defenders. Just run at them, as even when they are not as proficient as dribbling they can use their strength when running to keep the ball. Similar to what Costa does for Chelsea (when he’s in form). Or use their technical ability on the ball to mesmerize the opposition for a split second while they get their shot away. Like Agüero does for Manchester City. Not only that, in the way that the game is evolving, strikers need pace. Otherwise, they won’t be able to win any footraces with the opposition’s defense when they are put through. Giroud’s quality shouldn’t be undermined, and probably is not, but he shouldn’t be expected to produce goals week in and week out in the most demanding league in the world. There needs to be a world-class centre-forward leading Arsenal’s line in attack, whoever it may be. He just needs to be doing more than what Giroud already does.
This Premier League season is turning out to be the most entertaining that we’ve witnessed in recent years. The calamitous downfall of Chelsea, mixed with the supreme work-ethic of Leicester mean that the winner of this year’s campaign is anybody’s guess at the present moment. However, one thing is apparent, and it is that the side with the most consistency will eventually be repaid for their efforts, and Arsenal are currently leading that charge as they’ve been responsible for producing some of the longest streaks of winning runs that we’ve seen this season. However, if Arsenal do want to push that extra mile that every Premier League winner has to do towards the end, they need the help of some more champions, particularly in the aforementioned areas. Otherwise, they will fare out like they always do. In the top four.
So close, yet it might again be so far for Arsène Wenger.