The value of goals has never been more clearly emphasised than this season in the Premier league. There has been a virtual frenzy of goal scoring this time around and it is goal power that has placed Liverpool in pole position and goal power that has kept Manchester City in a great position to pounce. While City and Liverpool have legitimately world class strikers obduracy has been Chelsea’s main weapon for the most part but they have also had an ability to share the goals and in E’To they have a player who is in his twilight but still has that killer instinct and Torres can still show touches of his former goal machine self. To compete in this league you need a cutting edge in front of goal and the Arsenal had that with Ramsey’s sparkling early season form, but for the long haul all the eggs seemed to be in the Giroud basket, with Bendtner; who can be unpredictable and an unknown in Sanogo the only other pure strikers, most thought that this lack of real quality would cost us and it turns out that it has. That the situation may possibly have been rectified in the January transfer window is all conjecture but still one wonders “what if?” Even a Ferguson like temporary purchase similar to those he made when he bought in Larson and Owen may have made a difference. That would have called for expansive thinking and risk taking though.
The whole summer Suarez situation has vindicated Brendan Rodger’s determination to retain his prize asset and shows that our offer was unlikely to see Suarez in the Arsenal shirt. One suspects that had we upped the ante we may have acquired him and if Suarez had led the Arsenal line I would bargain that we may have all but clinched the title by next month: but that’s conjecture. We didn’t get him but didn’t bring in a striker of his calibre either.
The squad has simply not been good enough to cope with our injuries. Were we a club that had a good injury record you could write this season off as an anomaly and therefore not expect to have to dig deep into the ranks, but everyone knows that for some years now Arsenal’s injury record has been appalling: ergo a strong squad was needed. Hindsight is a wonderful thing but foresight is essential.
Ramsey, Ozil, Wilshere, Koscielny, Monreal should all feature at some point in our remaining games and give us a glimpse of what might have been but going forward there needs to be an evaluation as to why injuries hamper us time and time again. There are too many squad members that simply can’t last a season and don’t look like they’ll ever be able to. If it’s not luck, if it’s not that we have possession so much that our players receive more challenges then it must be methods that lead to our perennially packed treatment room. Has this been addressed or even thought of one wonders.
The purchase of Ozil was clearly a step in the right direction and, as I’ve said before, the young nucleus of Gibbs, Walcott, Oxlade-Chamberlaine, Jenkinson, Ramsey, Gnabry, Szcezny and Wilshere are cause for optimism about the future but we have to be able to have them actually on the pitch for a sustained period. There is always the fear with our club that there are other ‘Diabys’ just around the corner.
The irony is that Giroud has pretty much been fit all season and while he is certainly a good striker he is not a Championship winning striker, he doesn’t rise to the occasion often enough but he does carry the weight of that expectation: an expectation placed upon him by the Manager in the first instance.
If we secure Champions League football again that gives us a strong hand in the ability to attract players and with the world cup ahead the shop window will be well and truly open. Most vital is that we do what we failed to do last summer, and that is to go into that ultra-competitive market for a world class striker and bring our money to the table rather than leave it sitting in the bank; whoever our manager might be.