Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Wenger calls Ancelotti over striker -Walcott injury a blow but options available

Morning Gooners.

So as we call come to terms with the season ending injury to Theo Walcott, Arsene Wenger must be thinking about what he should do next to ensure that this Arsenal team doesn't fall away in the race for the title.

My immediate reaction was one of disappointment for Theo. Since signing his new deal with the club last summer, the England international has been in fantastic form for us. This season has seen him make a slow start in the league though goal scoring wise, with his first two of his five goals coming in the defeat to Manchester City at Middle Eastlands.

He didn't trouble the score sheet in the Gunners opening 16 games of the campaign, seven matches he missed through injury. It would be therefore fair to say he's not hit the heights of last season's impressive 14 goal return from 32 appearances.

However it would be silly to downplay his importance on this team. He's 24 now and has made 281 appearances for Arsenal following his move from Southampton eight seasons ago. He's become a key player for us and I would argue, just about to hit an age when we'll see his top form.

What this team will miss is not only his goals but his counter attacking skills. For a player who isn't a played at centre forward, Walcott is clinical in front of goal as his shots to goal ratio prove. He also makes opposition team sit deeper than they usually would because they are scared of his pace.

These are all attributes which Arsene Wenger will have to consider when deciding on how to replace him in the team.

People will be quick to suggest Serge Gnabry will be able to fill Walcott's boots following his most impressive performance to date in an Arsenal shirt against Spurs in our FA Cup win. But asking the 18-year-old, who has made just two league starts this season, to step up and produce week in, week out, would be too much to ask in my opinion.

Then there is Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain who is back in full training following his knee injury. The 20-year-old has been out for pretty much all of the season after picking up his injury in the opening day defeat to Aston Villa. He will need time to find his form and will hopefully get a few games for the under-21s to ease his transition back into the first team.

Those two are our most skillful pacey attacker who could fill Walcott's boots from inside the club. I'm not even considering Ryo Miyaichi who hasn't even started a league game this season and would be better off leaving on loan to grab a piece of first team action elsewhere.

So although I've played down Gnabry and Oxlade-Chamberlain as Walcott alternatives, I'm not sure we really need to look outside the club for someone to play on the right of our attacking three. We have Tomas Rosicky, Santi Cazorla, Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey and Mesut Ozil who have all played there.

Where we have need to strengthen is up front where Olivier Giroud and Nicklas Bendtner are our options.

The Daily Mirror report that we have made a move for Real Madrid striker Alvaro Morata, in a bid to bring the 21-year-old on loan for the remainder of the season.

They also say we're looking at:

  • Bayern Munich's Mario Mandzukic
  • Manchester City's Edin Dzeko 
  • Porto's Jackson Martinez.
  • Atletico Madrid's Diego Costa 
  • Manchester United's Wayne Rooney
  • Schalke's Julian Draxler
  • Rubin Kazan's Salomon Rondon
  • Monaco's Lacina Traore 
That's some list. But how many of them are available now? 

For me a striker is a priority. One who could do a job on the right, as well as up front at this point in time would be a dream come true. We've got to think about there here and now. We're in a fantastic position in the league. We now need to strengthen to ensure come May we finish top as Champions.

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