Wenger to see where Walcott and Podolski fit back into team before spending big again

Walcott has the shirt
Walcott has the shirt

So we beat the team closest to us in the table on Saturday and finish the weekend 5 points clear after 10 games. I had a great time on Saturday – drinking with old friends, meeting new ones, loving the performance, savouring the special atmosphere and wallowing in the glory, perhaps temporary, but wallowing none the less. What in a football sense could possibly deflate this mood on Sunday?

Having to read all day how much fellow Gunners wanted to invest £50 million plus on the Uruguayan half of a special strike force who Mertesacker and Koscielny has kept predominantly quite the previous evening.

I am as desperate to see my team succeed as the next fan, but I also want to enjoy the togetherness in the squad we have not witnessed since 2007. We have invested over £40 million in one of the world’s finest play makers and there are signs of what he can bring to the team already. But although Ozil comes with the price tag he is without the fanfare, publicity and grief. Surely the form of Ramsey, Szczeney and Gibbs this season must teach us something. Yes we needed top class experience but it has to be blended carefully with the talent we have already nurtured. In short it will be a team that will win us our first silverware in 9 years not any one star individual.

Ask yourself this question? How much would you have valued Aaron Ramsey at if a club had made an offer in January 2013?  – £10/12 million? Now ask yourself how much we would value him at in January 2014 – £25 milion? More?  Hypothetical of course but here’s another one. Would any of you swap Flamini for Capoue? I know I would not.

My point is why yearn for Suarez before we have seen what Wenger has in mind for the team/squad, when all are fit and well. For this observer there are several aspects and combinations within the squad we have yet to see. In the same way that we had to wait for an Arsenal team featuring Ozil and Cazorla I would like to see what Wenger has in mind for Walcott and Podolski before I throw my hat into the ring and call for a super striker signing in 2 months.

Here are a few of the aspects that excite me or set me thinking now ahead of January and they may resonate with you or they may not:

Olivier Giroud/formation

The best back to goal striker in the EPL
The best back to goal striker in the EPL

Wenger has played 4231 pretty much nonstop for 5 years now. Most of you know I am an advocate of using 2 strikers but I have no evidence to suggest it is likely. Olivier Giroud is without a doubt the best back to goal striker in the Premiership bar none. Our whole team set up works with his style of striker, his hold up lay and his bringing the 3 midfield creators into play. Now with the talent we now have at our disposal we can vary of game style but will we? Could Suarez play the Giroud role?  Are there still fans unconvinced by the Frenchman?  Maybe there are but I would not swap him now, not that I ever would have done. For me the logic suggests a similar player to OG but better then Bentdner or Sanogo to share the load. LLorente on loan ticks that box perhaps.

What now for Lukas?

Ignore our most clinical finisiher?
Ignore our most clinical finisher?

 

In about 81 minutes of league football for Arsenal this season Podolski has 2 goals. Last year he was into double figure for assists and goals whilst carrying an ankle injury for months. When asked to play centrally on a about 4/5 occasions he looked labored for sure but we don’t know how fit he was and he did score 2 crucial goals v Wigan that took us to the brink of Champions League football. What we do know is that he is the most lethal finisher at the football club and to discard his experience and eye for goal would be crazy. You simple cannot ignore the simple facts that 61% of Podolski’s EPL shots on goals were on target and in case you are wondering Suarez managed on 72 on target from 187 about 32%.

Whatever criticisms we may have of Podolski I am fairly certain that if we are in a game and need a goal we would all want the charismatic German to call upon. Someone else who may be quite keen to call on Lukas is his international team mate Mesut Ozil?  Until recently out 2 Germans have played alongside each other fairly consistently sine Ozil made his debut in September 2009. Mostly with Ozil as CAM and Podolski on the Left where he played the majority of his Arsenal games last term. Since the start of 2009/10 Podolski has appeared 55 times for Germany and Ozil 51, virtually all whilst playing together. In that time Lukas had 17 goals, 12 of them in competitive fixtures and Mesut, 17 goals, 15 in competitive fixtures.

Do we all really think that Wenger will simply ignore this history, this bond and this success of Podolski and Ozil playing together without first seeing how it might work for the Arsenal?

 

Suarez on the wing – What about Theo?

You can't ignore his contribution
You can’t ignore his contribution

 

I have asked the question of those who want Suarez where they see him playing? Many seem to agree that he would not replace Giroud as a first choice but play alongside him in a 2, not happening, or that he would play wide instead of Cazorla/Podolski or Walcott. In fact the majority suggested he would play on the right ahead of Theo or perhaps we might move to a genuine 433.

Now we can all use stats anyway we chose and before you say it I know I am worst than most. I do however try at least to be responsible when I use them and hope they are only to validate or prove a theory. For example Walcott is not better than Bale and no matter how many stats we use to prove it we all know that. However despite his off days and his frustrating inconsistencies his value to Arsenal is not really open for debate. His goals last season and his assist the season before propelled us into what was then a minimum requirement of Champions League.

So what stats do I have to back up a point today? Well it surrounds Theo and Suarez strangely enough because most who responded to my question though the Uruguayan would play on the right wing in a position we were all desperate to see Theo ‘sign da ting’ and occupy for years 10 months ago.

I know we should not judge wide attackers only on goals and assists and I accept that Suarez has more about him but a comparison from 2012/13 may surprise a few. If we actually look at minutes on the pitch in all competitions the crucial contributions of both are significant.

Minutes Goals Mins per goal Assists Mins/assist
Suarez 3716 30 123 5 734
Walcott 2986 21 142 15 199

 

With a contribution as significant as that I would be inclined to allow Theo to return and prove that he is the player to fill the right attacking role for us. Did any of you think that Suarez’s goal contribution as a striker would only be marginally better per minuet than Walcott’s from the flank?  He has the pace and the runs that Ozil will relish and his defensive cover whilst not perfect has improved. I wonder if Lewandowski would have been on his own with Walcott covering Sagna?

I would also question how much of a team player Suarez actually is when a player with his ability is providing so few assists for his team mates. This was evident on Saturday towards the end when he shot from an acute angle his strike partner Sturridge screaming for the pass for a tap in.

For completeness we should also consider the contribution Suarez made when he was Theo’s age which would be 2011/12. In 32 EPL appearances for example he hit 11 goals and 3 assists. At the same age last season Theo hit 14 goals and assisted on 10 occasions.

 

Conclusion

I don’t like Suarez or the thought of signing him. Too much baggage but I have tried to consider it from a more rational stance and from a position of trying to consider Wenger’s perspective. I hope I have given pause for thought but if nothing else if Podolski and Walcott are indeed approaching fitness we can watch what the management does with the above thoughts at the back of our minds.

I accept that Giroud probably cannot play every game, although our ex skipper did 2 years back and we must have alternatives and a Plan B. That being said this particular Gunner would like the options explored from within the squad first. I believe in Lukas and Theo and I am convinced that the current squad believes in them too. For now the momentum we have is significant and my perception is that it is, in part driven by the collective spirit and togetherness found in Munich in February. Ozil and Flamini have enhanced it but we need to be careful in considering who else will in January.

Like what you read? Agree/disagree? Leave a comment below or follow me or comment on this blog on Twitter – http://twitter.com/goonerdave66

 

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57 comments

  1. laughable. Everyone who says he doesnt want Suarez to come has no fucking clue about football.

    1. That’s not a fair comment mate, if u have actually read the article whole or understand it.
      And to add up, think of dis-harmony and indiscipline that Suarez brings to the team.

      1. All of Suarez’s team mates talk about what a fantastic guy he is.

        Arteta, Giroud, Wilshere have all said they wanted him.

        He won’t bring any disharmony, he would bring world class quality back to our front line.

  2. Great article. Great research & stats (as always!)

    And I completely agree OG can’t be replaced easily. And from other probabilities that we have I would like us to try one more. With a player who is very much like Luis Suarez. When the opportunity arises and we must throw in all strikers we have… instead of putting bendtner upfront, I would like us to use Santi Cazorla alongside OG. This could be a great trick if we use it and both can compliment each other rather well.

    Of course at times when OG can’t start, we should use LP as a striker.

    And here’s another idea. We should also ‘consider’ the option of using a faster, quicker, trick master in the CF position sometimes. We anyway play with the ball on the ground most times. And if Barcelona can do it so effectively with Messi, why can’t we … with Santi Cazorla!? I believe Theo is only stop gap as a CF as he lacks dribbling skills. Pace is his only weapon. So I think either Santi or someone like him (in Jan) could be tried.

    After all, a big lesson we’ve learnt over years is not to rely on a single player (Henry/Cesc/rvp) and so we should have a plan B without OG too.

    1. Or someone like Serge Gnabry? I would seriously consider him in that CF role even that early in his development. He’s got all the attributes, already played there in the Youth League and he’got a terrific shot in him

  3. the squad look really together. can’t remember last time they looked this united. you could see how much the clean sheet meant to bfg and koscielny.

  4. We still need another striker. Suarez would play instead of Giroud not Theo. Suarez is a selfish player as you say – 7am kickoff guy made this point well with stats – but I guess wenger planned to round this aspect of his game. It is also fair to say he was considered the only guy likely to make anything happen last year and givenicense to shoot on sight by BR. I hope we get a top, top striker sooner rather than later.

    1. Ps – I’d take lewandowski all day long. Similar to Giroud and would fit in and give real competition. Less assists, more goals. Frighten the shit out of the rest of the league!

  5. Very good article. I too don’t see the need for Suarez.There will be games against certain clubs where all 3 of Giroud Podolski and Walcott will be fit and available and it’s against these clubs where Wenger must decide if he really needs to use Giroud and would he not be better off giving him a rest.

  6. Great article, I totally agree. We seem to spend so much time at the moment worrying about Giroud possibly missing games through injury, what about the guaranteed games Suarez would miss through suspension. I hate the idea of us signing him. And in terms of togetherness, Theo and Poldi are much loved members of the squad and will thrive on the positive feeling in the club at the moment. When fit, Podolski can definitely fill in for Giroud in some matches to give him a rest (with Santi Theo Ozil and Ramsey in the team, goals are not going to be hard to find even if the striker doesn’t get them). That said, LLorente on loan could be good. If we are to splash some money again, I’d love to see us bring in Benteke, he’s young, proven, and wants to play for Arsenal. But Suarez? What a horrible idea. Once we had one of the best strikers in the world who started up an anti-racism campaign whilst at the club. Would be one hell of a comedown…

  7. A very thoughtful and insightful analysis. One particularly interesting quiz you raised, and one that I would like to hear fellow Gunners respond to, is how many of us would swap Flamin for Capoue, or even M’Vila, considering the how much we wished Wenger to sign any one of them. The other point is that the current Arsenal is not a one-man team, and i don’t think that with all his selfishness in front of goal, Suarez will improve the team.

  8. Waaaaa, I agreed with you in your of Theo Walcott and Podolski because what Arsenal is missing now is the pace of Walcott and the finishing ability of Podolski. To be honest I am also left with no answer if all this players are on form, how the manager will select the team with Ramsey, Flamini, Ozil, Cazorla, Wilshere, Rocisky and Artata whom I believe all are good midfielders. However, I beg to differ at some point when it comes to our striking force. Giroud has proved most of his critics wrong this season but I don’t think Giroud is an answer to Arsenal title credential, he is more of team player than a goal scorer. Arsenal has the best creative midfielders in the premier league and they are competing with the best teams in Europe the likes of Barcelona and Bayarn can only be measured with Arsenal in EPL. Against WBA, Giroud wasted two clear goal scoring chances the same with Liverpool……….. If I am to be in the board of Arsenal or Arsene Wenger, I won’t hesitate to go all the way and get Lewandowski. I strongly believe with current Arsenal midfielders, this is going to be the golden generation that Will not only win the Champion league but every competition. Go for Lewandowski.

  9. Waaaaa, I agreed with you in your analysis of Theo Walcott and Podolski because what Arsenal is missing now is the pace of Walcott and the finishing ability of Podolski. To be honest I am also left with no answer if all this players are on form, how the manager will select the team with Ramsey, Flamini, Ozil, Cazorla, Wilshere, Rocisky and Artata whom I believe all are good midfielders. However, I beg to differ at some point when it comes to our striking force. Giroud has proved most of his critics wrong this season but I don’t think Giroud is an answer to Arsenal title credential, he is more of team player than a goal scorer. Arsenal has the best creative midfielders in the premier league and they are competing with the best teams in Europe the likes of Barcelona and Bayarn can only be measured with Arsenal in EPL. Against WBA, Giroud wasted two clear goal scoring chances the same with Liverpool……….. If I am to be in the board of Arsenal or Arsene Wenger, I won’t hesitate to go all the way and get Lewandowski. I strongly believe with current Arsenal midfielders, this is going to be the golden generation that Will not only win the Champion league but every competition. Go for Lewandowski.

    1. This is true brother, but still with podolsk, walcott they wont score crucial goals. having many option will improve our players performances. we need suarez or any classy finisher purposely for goals not for assists. we need many goals as possible.

    2. Great post but unfortunately the Walcott case’ won’t be the one that finllay wakes the board up to the realities of modem day football and wages required to keep the top players happy and on par with their peers. Wengers grandstanding that Walcott won’t be sold in January will disappear the second a a310m bid comes in and the won’t be able to help themselves. 11 17

  10. Yes you are true gooner fan. We need competition a team like Arsenal shouldnt be relying on one strker. Of course we have different choices for players, some fans still wanted Marco Reus or Di Maria but where do you put Walcott, Ox, Podolski and Gnabry? Our worry has fans is Wenger’s failure to sign a striker has left many fans unhappy with the manager and I hope he Goes for Lewandowski this coming January.

  11. Thanks for all the wonderful comments. I know I am guilty of over loyalty to our existing players on occasion but right know I feel it may be justified. Dave

  12. if I can comment on wenger philosophy, converting players and mold them into different players as the way he succeeded on T.Henry when he transformed him from a winger to a world class striker the world has know today, as he took him from the bench in juventus. And he also succeeded on van persie from winger to a prolific world striker as currently among the 23 FIFA world best short list players. however, having two options of walcoltt & Lucas who are more comfortable on the wing than being a central strikers. He can’t keep succeeding on this conversion formula of players and we not fulfilling our objectives of winning trophies for 8yrs. I will suggest to wenger to release bendtner and park and sign a striker different from OG like Benteke, Pato, diego coasta at Atiletico Madried & Benzima who can able to hold the ball and score goals that will fit to Arsenal style of play. we also need one DM to support flamini and one central dense to match our qualities with our competitors in the league and to compete on the champions league. wenger should stop taking chances to depend on OG alone and sign a second striker to help OG to fire up the goals that will help us win the league and compete with the big boys like Chelsea, Man city& Man United. This is my message to wenger, stop contemplating, Don’t wait on Walcott & Lucas to return from injury, if OG get injuried, we are totally out of the race to win the league coming may 2014. this is our year to shine and and make a difference as we are presently 5 points lead at the top of the table since 2007. Gunner 4 life…..luv.

  13. “This was evident on Saturday towards the end when he shot from an acute angle his strike partner Sturridge screaming for the pass for a tap in.”

    Come on, Suarez did 100% right with taking that shoot. It would been very difficult getting that pass to Sturrige through.

  14. I agree with all your points. Our tactics now depends on Giroud so much. you have to blind if you cant see that. but Suarez is something rare in football, everytime he touches the ball he puts fear in defenders and fans of opposite team as well.
    But i think Wenger was looking for an Attacker who can play anywhere in the front 4. And he couldnt turn down Ozil when he became available. singing suarez now wont make any sense.
    I think it was a matter of Ozil or Suarez. not both together.
    And even wenger did his best to sign a backup striker til last minute but it failed. we cant change time complaining why our business is done in last minute but Wenger has a whole month to address this problem. a striker but be brought. And i think 2 players currently fit the bill. Ba or llorente. Another player that might be interesting is Hulk, there was talk about his team ready to loan him out. specially with long winter break in Russia
    Giroud simply cant play every game in CL/League/FA. we need to sign someone and it has to be at the start of January.

  15. Please do not get carried away by the results so far. Even Wenger has urged his players not to rest on their laurels. Arsenal are a good team but they NEED at least FOUR QUALITY STAR PLAYERS in the Striking position, left wing, defensive midfield and defence(remember, world class players like a certain Mesut Ozil; such class) to be serious and genuine BPL title contenders!

    1. Sorry but I cannot agree with that and with top players to return no one id advocating resting on our laurels

    2. no giroud can’t win games by himself, so does suarez.. no one can… suarez didn’t nick the win for the scums, did he? you talk as if we were losing the game. we won fyi.

      giroud not scoring in every game a la ramsey didn’t make him a failure. he is vital to the team.

      great article dave.. ever

  16. i dnt think suarez can work 2gether wit giroud bcos giroud’s pattern of playing fball is 2 weak compared 2 dat of suarez. Suarez is good at counter of which giroud is nt so they cnt play 2gether. Luckily we hav walcott who love counter attack who’s pattern of playing is similar 2 suarez. giroud can start d 1st half and will be substituted by suarez in d 2nd half. I dnt support d saying dat giroud should b replaced by suarez

  17. Very thoughtful and creative, you have presented and justified it nicely.
    Enjoyed every bit of it.
    Cheers Dave

  18. Now I don’t think Suarez should necessarily replace giroud or play a 4-4-2 formation. Neither should he play in place of Walcott or podolski . But we need another option a different kind of striker to giroud that causes teams different problems and if not Suarez who we also need another wide player and a defensive midfielder and a defender just to improve depth of squad.

    1. I am not sure the likes of Suarez would accept being and alternative option or just to be adding to depth

  19. Intersting view point. And as one who wants Suarez, you’ve certainly managed to sow doubt in my mind. However, Wenger wanted to buy him. So my guess is that he thought he’d fit into our system somehow.

  20. in fact, you have said it all, let’s be patient and see What poldi and walcot can prove to us. Good write up

  21. I believe we the Arsenal fans shouldn’t encourage the Arsenal’s board to sign Suarez. I think we’ll be embarking on a wide goose chase. I’ll suggest the signing of Emmanuel Emenike of Nigeria. This guyj has pace, strength and agility and can play in any part of the attack without replacing OG. He currently plays for Fenerbache in Turkey and also an Arsenal’s fan. Wenger should not waste time on other players that are cup-tied. This guy is good and we can get him at a very good price.

  22. Did you ever see Suarez’s effort in the Liverpool keeps-uppy contest on Youtube? It’s not a deal breaker, but because of his lack of concentration or coordination, it was a surprisingly poor effort.

  23. The gunners may have an abundance of creativity. I also want destructive
    capability to sto the other side playing. We have only Flamini whose all action style reminded
    me of Petit and Veira.How about getting another Pettit/Veira clone to shut out the other side?

    1. Dear Nizam I think you have witnessed what Arsenal need. We only have Flamini in the team as proven Dm. I said lets go for Pual Pogba, and add one Right full defender, Jenkinson is not ready at this stage. We need world top class striker, I will actual go for Lewandowski to have psychological effect on our opponents, or btn 2 of this strikers; Suarez or Diego Cost. That will be a champions league team, look at Bayarn, they have Martinez, Swan, Tiago and Kroos all are good in deep role. We only have Flamini and Artata, I think until Wenger accepts more quilities in those areas, he will never have Champions league clory.

  24. Hello everyone, this debate is so interesting. Did I hear someone say Suarez is not needed is Arsenal? Come on gooners, don’t be carried away with Giroud’s al round kind of game. To be fair, Giroud is a good striker and a team player but he is never going to be close to Suarez. Suarez first touch is amazing and if Arsenal signs him I don’t see Giroud’s chance of been in the first team. Giroud is not game winner, Suarez is; I show Ozil and Santi at some point against Liverpool getting more frustrated because he can’t finish off the game. If we need a goal assist, we already have many in the team, Cazorla, Walcot, Ozil, Wilshere, Ramsey, Rocisky and Ox. I got more annoyed with Giroud against WBA when he failed to convert two clear chances and it costed Arsenal. Without doubt in my mind Suarez is currently the best forward in EPL, not ever Rooney, RVP, Lukaku, Benteke, Torres, Aguero are close to him. In the first place Suarez is a dribbler, his first touch causes trouble to defenders, Giroud is not of that type. Suarez pace, turn and goal scoring record is superior to any striker more over he plays in a team with one creative midfielder. Do you thing Giroud can win a game by his own? I dont think so, he scored five goals four through close trb and one header. Giroud failed to convert a through passes this season which we show against liverpool, and against Swansea when he was put through by Gnabry, a big strker should step up in such games.

    1. Am shocked someone will reduce the potency of suarez to this bare minimum. Yet AW wanted to fork out 40m? OG is not a world class finisher yet. We did not buy him to create or hold balls. He was bought to finish ie score . Please lets not get carried away and lose sight of the challenges ahead. See the goal he missed against liverpool. Compare his chip to that of sturridge against WBA.

      1. That would be the Sturridge who missed 3 easy chances from close range in first half for England the other week. The team that has 3 or 4 players scoring double figures will prevail not the team with one guys scoring 30 for me

  25. The fact that Wenger went for Suarez proves he thought of a role for him. But also, bringing in ozil , probably means no more Suarez pursuit. Not saying Ozil and Suarez are the same. But quality wise there is little to seperate them (We have not yet seen Ozil at his full power). We have an unlocker , we need sure shot finishers.

    Gioud adds a lot to our game. Makes everyone score and provides tremendous support to the team overall.But the distict weakness is we lose Giroud and we have no cover. I don’t think we can depend on Bendtner. Great guy probably. But we cannot falter in this campaign and if we fail for a lack of a reliable 2nd striker, it will be very unfair on the whole team.

    When Podolski & Theo come back, we will have more chance to make substituitions in forward areas. Give Giroud a break probably for games of a lesser stature. But the need to augment numbers is there.

    This is what I think could happen. We get Podolski & Theo back and play through December (title deciding period). In January depending on the squad fitness we will add an option. I think we will buy a young striker who can offer a bit different to Giroud. Or the Wenger trademark of buying a winger who can be transformed into a striker (Henry, RvP like) Draxler probably ? Don’t know. That is a definite possibility. It also fits us as the guy coming in offers a long term option plus can blend into the team. That is a very important aspect you have mentioned.

    I will be surprised if we go for Suarez. Not because he cannot fit in at Arsenal, but its too much of a hassle after what happened in the summer.

  26. nice article… This article is very analytical…. I love O.G, he makes sure he wins 99.9per cent of area balls… And with his flicks i think he should be used as a second striker… Someone more aggresive like lawandoscky, emineke, diego costa bt no saurez should play up front with OG behind…. I think a 2 man strike force will work perfectly.

  27. I cant wait for Walcott to be fit again. He played in Ozil’s first game. You could see that Ozil could tap on his speed. Ozil provided Walcott with at least two goal scoring opportunities. Coupled with a fit Cazorla on the other wing, its mouth watering man.
    Only thing we needed now is a proper back up for Giroud. That man works his socks off every match. To me he reminded me of Drogba when he first came to epl. Drog was big and fast but missed lors of chances. Things changed the following season for Drog. Its looking the same situation for Giroud.

  28. Good blog Dave. As you know already I’m also a huge Giroud fan but whilst the team operates fantastically well with him operating as the axis to our attacks, I think a player like Suarez adds competition and guarantees goals. Giroud could have a dip in form and may need a rest physically and/or mentally. So that option would be superb. This team can play with different styles of striker, as we did with Theo from time to time last year and the goals flowed.

    I don’t want us to be naive when it comes to attempting to winning silverware and if the option is there for us to buy Suarez, we should do just that.

    Keep up the good work mate.

    P.S. Surprised you neglected to discuss the possibly of Giroud and Suarez up top.

  29. Great post but unfortunately the Walcott case’ won’t be the one that fialnly wakes the board up to the realities of modem day football and wages required to keep the top players happy and on par with their peers. Wengers grandstanding that Walcott won’t be sold in January will disappear the second a a310m bid comes in and the board won’t be able to help themselves. Cash is king. 1 15

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