While Theo Walcott has made it clear to Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger that he would like to play through the middle as the club's main striker, doubts remain as to whether he is the right man for the job.
Granted, Walcott has picked up 19 goals in all competitions this season but the former Southampton man has also struggled when playing up front against a strong, deep-lying defence.
No-one can deny the fact that Walcott is lightning quick and a candidate for the fastest winger in the league, but that’s exactly where he should play – down the side, getting behind defenders and supplying assists to the main striker, just as he did for his former teammate, Robin van Persie.
Walcott’s finishing has also improved considerably, and when he gets in behind defenders he’s always going to be dangerous in front of goal. But I still believe that he’s most effective when running down the wing or cutting in to score or to provide an assist.
Wenger has brought over many of his fellow countrymen from France over the years and Olivier Giroud is the latest French addition to Arsenal. Giroud brought with him the height and physique that are beneficial attributes in a striker, and having scored 21 goals in Ligue 1 last season, many Arsenal fans were excited at the prospect of the Frenchman being deployed in attack.
But Giroud struggled to adapt to the fast-paced English league and has been somewhat ineffective. It was unfair to expect Giroud to instantly replace Van Persie, especially seeing as it’s his first season in the Premier League, but Arsenal supporters expected a little more from the former Montpellier man.
He is an expert in the air and has scored some fantastic aerial goals for his new club, but that seems to be his only role at Arsenal – a target man. Unfortunately this doesn’t fit in all that well with Arsenal’s fluid and technical style of play. They like to keep the ball on the deck rather than whip in long balls with the off chance of someone getting a head to it. With a lowly 12% conversion rate and a 50% final pass accuracy, Giroud is not the front-man that Arsenal so desperately needed him to be.
So who should be the front Gunner? Arsenal need an established finisher and no player fits the bill better then Barcelona’s David Villa. The Spaniard was sidelined for most of the season and reports suggest his long-term future lies away from the Nou Camp.
The Gunners were heavily linked with a January deal for Villa and with a reported £70m summer transfer budget, Wenger will now be encouraged to bring the 31-year-old to the Emirates.
Even though the Spain International didn’t see much playing time at the Catalan club since suffering a broken leg last season, he still managed to net seven league goals.
Villa will slot in perfectly at Arsenal with players such as Walcott, Jack Wilshere, Lukas Podolski and fellow Spain teammate Santi Cazorla to supply him with opportunities. He will adapt quickly to The Gunners' style of play as many have referred to Arsenal as the 'Barcelona light' because of their similar styles.
Villa could be the man to get Arsenal back to winning ways and if Wenger could sign him, along with a good defensive midfielder, the Emirates outfit’s prospects for next season will already look considerably more promising.
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