Arsenal need to sign a 20 Goal a season striker this summer – Easier said than found?


Only player to 20 in England so far in 2012/13
Only player to 20 in England so far in 2012/13

I wrote a blog a few weeks back suggesting we invest our pot of cash in proven Premier League talent to hit the ground running next season. Some agreed and some did not and many thought my striker target Lukaku would not be available at a price we would pay. He may not be and it may well be a pipe dream but the more common criticism of my logic in suggesting the young Belgian as a target to challenge or support Giroud and Walcott,  was that he is not proven. This and the  usual ‘We need a 20 goal a season man.’  In fact I am being kind as many tell me we need a 30 goal season striker! Well sorry to be the one to burst your bubble and open your eyes, but they don’t actually exist guys, well not often. What I also find quite ironic is it seems to be the same readers who simultaneously want Wenger to spend millions on Jovetic a consistent 12-15 goal a season man?

Goal celebration seen one every 3 weeks?
Goal celebration seen once every 3 weeks?

This is not incidentally a criticism of Jovetic who looks a super player but he is a creator of opportunities or a second striker, a la Dennis, not a main striker. Of course this whole debate is far from simple as I would love us to have a two striker system and see a Jovetic style No.10 but we do not presently have that system and this blog is more about the constant Gooner demand for a 20/30 goal a season central striker. The majority seem to think Wenger’s task here is an easy one and his failure is done to lack of funds or lack of judgement.

In fact the blog is I hope more about exploding the myth of the ease of Arsenal picking up such a prolific player who scores at the rate I see demanded frequently on our social media. Do 30 goal a season players exist? Yes they do but the reality is they are a very rare breed, particularly if we are talking about league goals, our bread and butter.  So let’s start at home and stick to the modern era. How many times have Arsenal strikers’ hit 30 league goals in the first 20 years of the Premier League? 6 times, 8 times, 10 times? No twice is all. Thierry Henry did it once in 2004 and van Persie in 2012. Okay well 30 is a superb effort but 20 goals a season in the league is easy and happens all the time, right?  Well actually at a club that has been blessed with likes of Henry, Wright, Bergkamp, Anelka, Adebayor and van Persie we have produced a 20 league goal striker in less than 50% of the 20 seasons. In fact only on 9 occasions have we had a 20 goal a season man and make that 9 from 21 as it is not happening this season either. Henry managed 20 in the Premier League in 5 seasons, from 8, Ian Wright only twice, Adebayor once and RVP once.  Ian Wright one of the best finishers ever only scored 20 in the EPL twice in 6 attempts. Dennis Bergkamp’s best ever return was 18.

Th14 Yes, DB10 not in 12 years!!
Th14 Yes, DB10 not in 12 years!!

So we have established that 20 a season is not as common as people perhaps thought and Arsenal have been at or near the pinnacle of the league in a huge majority of those seasons. However I am sure we can sign a 20 goal a season striker this summer from Europe? Well maybe we can but again I am sorry to shatter the illusion. They don’t truly exist in numbers and those that do may not be in Arsenal’s price range or be suitable. In 2011/12 there were only 20 strikers in the main 6 European Leagues who scored 20 league goals and Olivier Giroud was one of them. So that was a year back so let’s look at this season. I am going to be fair and suggest that with 75% of the season gone nay striker who is on course to be a 20 a season man in their league should be on 15 as of today.

Player Club League Goals
Messi Barcelona Spain 42
Ronaldo Real Madrid Spain 27
Bony Vitese Arnhem Netherlands 26
Ibrahimovic PSG France 25
Suarez Liverpool England 22
Falcao Athletico Madrid Spain 21
Cavani Napoli Italy 20
Finbogasson Heerenveen Netherlands 20
Van Persie Man Unitd England 19
Lewandowski B. Dortmund Germany 19
Graziano Pelle Feyenoord Netherlands 19
Altidore Alkmaar Netherlands 18
Aubameyang St Etienne France 16
Bale Tottenham England 16
El Shaarawy Milan Italy 16
Kießling Leverkusen Germany 16
Negredo Sevilla Spain 15
Di Natalie Udinese Italy 15
Mandzukic Bayern Germany 15
Ba Chelsea England 15
Michu Swansea England 15


Interesting stuff I think.  21 players in top 6 European leagues are on target to hit 20 or more goals in their respective leagues. Realistically for those seeking a ready made RVP replacement perhaps you don’t see Wenger’s job as being quite so straight forward? Just from a personal perspective I have highlighted those who interest me and who I think we could realistically sign.

In addition just to muddy the waters further and try and convince you just how hard the manager’s job is I would like to add some further context. Some context to demonstrate perhaps, the different strengths of the various European leagues. Again I am not making suggestions or judgement, but trying to illustrate the inexact science of making transfer decisions and scouting in different leagues. When looking at the statistics across Europe this season it is hard to do the research without seeing two familiar names jump off the screen. In France having had another injury disrupted season last, Jeremie Aliadiare has been might impressive for Lorient this term. The former Gunner and Invincible has not only notched 11 goals in Ligue 1 but also provided 8 assists, which rank him 5th and 2nd in those charts.  No I am not suggesting Wenger resign JA but there are many jumping on the idea of signing  Pierre Aubameyang  from St Etienne, who has only marginally better stats than Aliadiare and no where near as strong as those of Olivier Giroud in the same division last season.  The reality is that our Frenchman has notched every 3 games in the league and has only actually started in 19 of the 28. Perspective perhaps or perhaps not?

Was it folly to sign Oliie?
Was it folly to sign Oliie?

When looking at Spain it is hard not to see young ex-Gunner Carlos Vela’s stats as they feature high up the charts as well. Having struggled, or not having made an impression fully in the EPL in his second full season at Sociedad the Mexican international has come of age. He has 12 goals from a wide striker role, putting him 8th in La Ligue and has a superb 9 assists leaving him behind only Iniesta, Fabregas, Ozil and Messi.

Vela clever fella?
Vela clever fella?

So there you go the above proves just how tricky it is for Wenger and his scouts to these days decide if form in one league will transfer to the EPL.  Of course you can be guided I assume by precedents. Guys who have scored consistently in Holland have done well in the main in England, Suarez being the most recent case in point. Big strong centre forwards and indeed strong athletic players, from the Ivory Coast had thrived in the EPL and in Drogba have produced one of the league’s all time greats. Now I am not going to go down the, if only Wenger had signed Drogba when he had the chance road but it may be worth looking at the new DD if we feel Lukaku cannot be prised from Chelsea. Wifred Bony is the man to replace Drogba in the national side. He already had 6 caps, scored 15 in 19 for Vitesse last season and has 26 in 20 this term. This powerhouse will finish the season with 30 league goals and perhaps 40 in all competitions. In the words of my Dutch correspondent, Austin Ellinor, @Frimponged “He is terrorising defences in the Eredivisie!”

A a second Dutch Gooner, Willem Gonggrijp @BergkampFlick is not so sure: “He has At least 1 or 2 seconds more to make a decision in the Eredivisie. He is very strong and a good finisher with both head and feet, but it’s hard to judge a striker in the Eredivisie. I wouldn’t take the risk.”

Last word to a third Dutch Gooner/blogger, Martijn Stolze @Hahostolze. I asked him this “Wilfred Bony, worth a punt and his answer was short and to the point. “Yes. I’d say so.”

Bony the Beast - New Drogba?
Bony the Beast – New Drogba?

Bony is being strongly linked with Liverpool at the moment but as Wenger was keen on Lukaku 2 summers back it is not outlandish to suggest this similar style of striker would not be on his radar.

Anyway that is enough for today. I guess my message is we all want the 20 plus goal as season striker to lead us back to glory. The earlier table suggest that only 21 or so will manage 20 in the league in Europe’s top 6 leagues and many of those are unattainable, too old for Wenger or would not come to Arsenal. The water to fish in for Arsenal is a pool and not a lake and they are not too many truly big fish in it. I have no idea what we will do in the summer but the thought of this beast Wilfred Bony turning up elsewhere in the EPL I do find a worry….. I have asked the  Dutch Gooners I know on twitter and the verdict is a split jury. You can decide but for me he has 2 years on his contract can be signed for circa £10/£12 million and has 33 goals for club and country this season alone, so I would not be averse.

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  1. One of the best article i had ever read. Very well writen. I dont have any idea what going to happen in the summer transfer window. But i really hope that arsenal will able to sign a quality players in every position that need to be streghten.. pray for the best. Die hard arsenal fan!

  2. Bony certainly looks worth a gamble on. Some of his goals do come from capitalising on poor defending which would probably not come around so often in the PL, but still. It’s not all about goals anyway. You mention Drogba, but he only had one great goalscoring season for Chelsea, and only reached 20 league goals on one other occasion. He didn’t even score 20 in France and people were actually questioning his ability after the first season in England (quite ridiculously seeing as he was the main striker in a title winning side) because he only scored 10 goals, but his contribution to that team was massive nonetheless. So I don’t necessarily agree that we need a 20-goal striker, we have 4 major goal threats currently in the squad, and there’s every chance that Wilshere will become a fifth if he’s handled properly, but we do need to play in a way that means that we can exert a more consistent pressure on opposition defences imo. Part of this is just changing the way we play slightly but some personel changes could help. Jovetic looks a good bet to me from that perspective and I think a powerful CM signing would also be of benefit because those sorts of players can win the ball back quickly and start moves that make chances. It’s why we tend to do better with Diaby in the team at the moment, even when he’s not on the best of form.

    1. Thanks. Agree with the multiple goal threat and have blogged so frequently. This is more a gentle dig at those who constantly call for such a player rather than a personal plea.

  3. Nice read Dave, some homeworks have been done and its kind of an infotiser as it has been the case with your blogs.

    We had RVP scoring 30 goals last season but we won nothing. So it wont make sense for Arsenal to have a striker who can score 20 or 30 goals but there is no title at the end of the season. I’d rather have 4/5 players scoring 15+ each and win us the title. Hence no feeling of individual brilliance and egoism.
    Wilfried Bony seems a good deal from what I have seen (and that’s the only video you’ve posted).


  4. Great article as usual Dave. I personally don’t think it’s a question of volume goalscoring. I think it has more to do with who you’re scoring against. Arsenal have struggled against the top of the table this season and that’s a fact. What’s most disappointing is the lack of ideas and a cutting edge in these games. Giroud is not clinical. He needs lots of service to score, but isn’t the type to create a goal from nothing. Walcott needs to use his pace, his only real advantage, where sheer athleticism and running gets him in on goal. That said he drifts in and out of games and can’t influence play in deeper positions. Podolski, similarly, is best on the counter. He’s fast with a powerful shot, but lacks the extra bit of intricate skill on the ball to beat his man 1v1. Typically it’s been Cazorla who makes the difference, with his crafty dribbling, passing, and excellent shooting. Yet Cazorla’s never been much of a prolific scorer before, meaning he’s playing above his norm. And you can’t always count on someone playing above his norm.

    And if the above four players are off their game, or are struggling to break a defense, who can Arsenal turn to? Spuds turn to the monkeyman Bale; City to Aguero, Toure, Dzeko, Tevez, or Silva; Chelsea to Mata or Lampard, and United to Rooney, Hernandez, or RVPurse-strings.

    Who’s there? Ox? Ramsey? Rosicky? Arshavin?

    Arsenal need that player with the extra bit of quality. They need that player other teams fear. They need that player who will draw defenders, allowing Poldi and Theo in behind. It’s not a question of 20 goals, 30 goals, or 200 goals a season if they’re all scored in 8-0 demolitions of Reading. I believe Jovetic has that quality. Teams will have to work to shut him down. But he’s not the only one. I think Bony has the type of physicality and skill set to dominate games as well.

    Just my two cents.

    1. Great observations Jordan. I am failing to a degree in my point I guess. I am not saying we need the 20 goal a season man myself. I am happy with 3/4 in double figures. It is my gentle dig at those who always shout for that player and he does not necessarily exist.

      I know what you are saying though and I agree Jovetic is that player you describe but for mew he is a No. 10 DB style. This need a change of system and I am all for that

      1. Dave, if we sign Jovetic, then I see him as a super sub (atleast for the initial part of the season), as he grows comfortable, know our system/players (the whole 9 yards) and performs well then I believe AW can start him as main striker. This way he doesn’t have to change the playing system.

        As one of the comment here used ‘fox in the box’ i think Jovetic is that player. He is composed in the front of goal, team player, consistent, plays with both foot, technically sound.

        I don’t agree on your point of changing the system. We have so many case studies where AW has changed the player to fit the system and not otherwise.

  5. I don’t mind us buying another striker, but I believe OG will be that striker we crave. We should just be more patient and I’m sure he’s done really well for a season striker although maybe he can do better bearing the chances he missed. But its still a pass mark as far as I’m concerned. Bony played in the AFCON and was average. I think we need more of David Villa than anyone now

  6. Its pretty simplistic to simply say “we need a 30 goal a season striker”. I think it stems from the what i like to call “Short termism” where fans just look at recent history to back up how a squad should be revitalised. Last year we had a dutch bloke who scored 37 which simply saved our bacon. The way Arsenal have been set up under Wenger, we’ve always been able to strut around a football field and say “no matter, we can still score more than you”.
    This season, i look at matches like Norwich, Villa and QPR. We just needed a man to come short the way Wright, Henry and RVP would to give the opposition something to think about. Giroud likes to stay up top (why i dont know, it’s not like he ever bothers with the 6 yard box). I don’t think we need a 30 goal striker. I think we need a clinical striker who can come short when the going gets tough and create when required yet score when the chances fall on a plate. A 9.5 striker LIKE suarez, LIKE Jovetic. Look at Gervinho v City when Rambo slipped him in. Giroud v Sunderland and Chelsea (both games) where he has simply missed sitters. It might seem simplistic but that’s 8 points we missed out on. We just need a nippy striker who can finish his dinner. He doesn’t have to do 30 a season, the stats you’ve written prove that for me. Great Article.

    1. Cheers Hassan. As you gathered this article is as much satire as serious. Too many call for it but don’t actually realise they are not there. I would sooner have 3/4 payers scoring good doubles figures.

  7. A truly great read Dave. I know Arsene is gonna buy big in the summer. We are gonna just gave to wait & see but your track record is excellent so I’ll keep this blog in mind, when names are mentioned.
    Excellent, informative post as ever.

  8. I don’t undertand why We can’t try Poldi there . He has pace, ball control, fantastic goal scoring ability . He should be given more chances upfront !!!

  9. Easily the best piece I’ve read here. I just want to point out something, I think the fans just want a star name, a world class player more than they want 30 goal striker. Adebayor scored 30 but wasn’t really wanted. Do you get my point.

    Personally I just want another top class striker to help share the burden, Giroud hasn’t scored in a while(minus Bayern) and the lack of any replacement is really hurting. Having another top class striker wouldn’t be a problem. Even Rooney might not crack 20 league goals this season but he has over 14, Hernandez has 16(total) or so and RVP has his. So you get my point. Again, personally all I want is Lewandowski, he’s out of contract soon and would be perfect, would he want us is another problem. And I implore Arsenal fans to stop the stupid and daft “he’s like Giroud/we don’t want another Giroud” comments, I’ll take another Giroud if he’s a better and a higher volume scorer.

  10. Great article Dave.
    I am always lamenting that our fans are always seeking the shortest route out, throw money at the problem and I know there is no one signing to rule them all.
    Excellent post!

  11. Interesting piece there Dave.

    Never heard of Bony until now but what was apparent on that clip is his remarkable composure when presented with a chance. Not a hint of panic in his finishing, the complete opposite to Gervinho. Reminded me of Eduardo back in 2007.

  12. Great stuff, anyway, I don’t wanna spoil the situation where we all expect improvement should “arrive” (from outside) rather than happenning from inside. Again, having to read the financial situation, I say the most realistic signing will be whoever worth < £20 mn/player. But than again, why spending money on tier 2 (the likes of messi,cr7, are on tier 1) players when you already hv em onboard? Wasn't ollie last season top scorer on french league? Did gervais not spectacular back in the african cup a few months ago? Even if we finally managed to sign jovetic or cavani, do you think it increases the chance to win CL if we play the "tiki-taka" or should I say "tippy-tappy" style? I agree on particular situation, individual skill can make a difference, but, most of the time it's what being played as a team. And right now,whoever the player is, it is more about improving the way we play, the gameplan,the strategy, or whatever you wanna call it. There's no such thing as 1 size fits all. We got lucky 1 time for being unbeaten, but then, fergie learnt how to beat us. Football is evolving, and should so Arsenal.

    1. Just a point of correction, going a whole season unbeaten is a lot lot more than luck, 10 – 20% maybe but no more.

  13. Great read Dave! Yes we need a top quality striker. People mention Jovetic. You say he is more a #10 player like Bergkamp and a I agree on that. In 2009 he played that role behind Gilardino and looked great. He’s got vision and skill to bring others into play & make that final pass. This season his performances have been inconsistent. He has played as a lone striker and I guess he’s scored 12 goals so far. But having watched 13 of his games i believe he is struggling a bit there. He often drops deep to get the ball as most of the time he looks isolated upfront. Jovetic is undoubtedly a talented player but is he the best CF we can get at that (£20) price? If we were reverting back to 4-4-2 then i’d say yes but 4-3-3 not so sure. I think we need a striker who can play upfront on his own, can score and create, has pace, is a good finisher, has natural striker’s instincts. Who knows may be Wenger thinks he can turn Jovetic into that player. He’s done that with Henry. But my bet is on Lewandowski. He has scored consistently in a strong league with a team with a similar style and system to Arsenal. Think he’s worth the punt.

    1. good observation but i would say that Lewandowski is not a special talent, while Cavani on the other hand is.
      Lewandowski has predatory instincts of a good CF but his finishing is extremely poor. Have a look at few of the matches of Dortmund and you will see that how often he misses a chance when presented, in a team where breathless passing and direct style is a norm.
      in other words, he will be like other Arsenal strikers from the year 2007-present where they need at least 3 chances to walk the ball in the net.

  14. Dave,

    Your articles are a breath of fresh air. Many fans crave for the so called 30 goals striker but u can’t just pick them up from eBay.

    We need to give Giroud more time

    He’ll be that 20-goal striker we need

  15. all true… but i hate you-tube clips as examples, as even Bebe can be made look good by youtube, just ask Fergie..

  16. very interesting article.
    great work.
    i just want Arsenal to win either by hook or crook and i still think Wenger is the best man for Arsenal as this present moment.He can decide which striker is the best suited to his philosophy and i can see in 2 years time when he quits Arsenal, every blog will be singing his praises.

    1. Thanks for taking time Muhammad. Jury’s still out with me on whether AW still has it. Hope he does

  17. @Helensays Another great piece Dave. Mind you no point thinking about trying to sign top players if we can’t entice them with Champions League football. So best we all wait until we know the outcome of that scenario – very nervous times for us as fans but at least as players they can do something about it but also depends on the results of others. Its in the Lap of the Gods (Queen) but also in the minds, hearts and boots of our players.

  18. Only just read your article Dave… As always a good and concise read. Four words come to mind ‘fox in the box’ – Honestly, we haven’t had that since a certain Mr Ian Wright…

  19. Then again AW wants the goal scoring responsibility to be shared between the strikers, Dave. I don’t think he is eyeing for a 20/30 goal man. Arsenal thrives on technical stuff and coordination between the players as such not sure if players like Bony will fit into the system.

    My money is on Jovetic (because of his ambidextrous abilities) and Carlos Vela (he has been amazing for ROS from past 2 seasons…really impressed with him). Carlos vela more because:
    – Arsenal DNA
    – Release clause
    – exist of Arshavin in summer
    But not sure Carlos vela will opt for Arsenal because of competition on the left wing.

    I also see AW strengthening the RW this summer.

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