Now that we have seen the back of Emmanuel Adebayor, Arsene has £25 million to recruit a replacement, but do we need another striker?
Arsene Wenger has plenty of attacking options at his disposal before he even has to look elsewhere.
Robin van Persie showed us what he was capable of doing last season, when during our dark months of December and January he either created or scored every goal. That period demonstrated that the Dutchman has the potential to emulate the great Dennis Bergkamp.
At Arsene’s disposal this season will be Eduardo, who is a lethal striker. Give him half a chance and the ball will be in the back of the net. We need Eduardo to be fit and to play as he was before he was injured. Eduardo, given a run will score plenty of runs next season.
Nicklas Bendtner has made tremendous progress last season. He scored only one goal less than Adebayor and proved that he is a battler. He has a terrible spell in terms of scoring, but carried on fighting. He always gave 100%, and linked up well with the midfield. The departure of Adebayor will allow Bendtner to play more often and he will progress in the same way that Fabregas did once Vieira left.
Carlos Vela is still an enigma. What is his best position and will Arsene give him a chance this season. He was given very few starting opportunities in the league last season which made it difficult for the Mexican wizard to impress. If Wenger buys another striker, Vela will go out on loan, otherwise Vela get his chance.
Wenger has two more players who can and wish to play in more advanced central positions.
The first is Theo Walcott who ultimately will be a central striker, whether it is time for Arsene to move him forward just yet remains to be seen. He did not have successful under-21 championships, but that was down to the treatment he received from Stuart Pearce.
In Andriy Arshavin Wenger has a playmaker and goal scorer who will score goals and give Arsene a genuine option if needed to play a central striker. It is the Russian’s preferred position and if successful in pre-season, Arsene will seriously consider using Arshavin as a striker next season.
Arsene has stated that he will look at things over the next couple of weeks before making any move for a replacement for the Togolese striker. If he decides we have plenty of options up front, Chamakh will not be joining us, but I trust Wenger will look at things realistically and sign the Moroccan striker next week.
Arsenal most important newcomers this summer will not a new centre half nor will it be a rugged no nonsense midfielder. The most important players in our pre-season will be Tomas Rosicky and Eduardo.
Never in football injuries has a hamstring injury taken so long to be sorted out.
When we lost Rosicky we were riding high in the Premier League, he was scoring and creating goals for us. Tomas gave us attacking options on one flank whilst Hleb did the same on the other flank. His injury knocked us back, nobody can say how much it hurt us, but with such a small squad it was an injury that we were unable to cope with.
After much anguish, Tomas is back in full training with the first team, the next few weeks will be important for the Czech playmaker to ensure he has not further setbacks.
Our other long-term absentee made an emotional return to the first team in February, nearly a season after his horrific leg break. The return was almost too good to be true; he scored twice, but was soon out with a groin injury. This was the story of Arsenal’s number 9 comeback. Plays a game and then is out for tow or three weeks.
Once again, Eduardo’s injury last season came just as he was finding his feet in the Premier League and scoring. Coming so soon after Tomas’s injury, Eduardo’s injury was a devastating blow to our title hopes last season.
Eduardo is further down the recovery road than Rosicky, but he needs to take things easy and ensure he returns for pre-season ready and raring to go.
These are two vital players for our quest for glory. Rosicky will provide goals and creativity on one flank whilst Eduardo is one of the deadliest strikers in the league.
The Arsenal medical staff need to work around the clock to ensure that these two players return in July ready for a full season and will not break down every other game. Rosicky and Eduardo will be vital to Arsenal’s 2009/10 campaign, we need both of them.
The club currently has five international strikers plus two more forwards who will be more comfortable playing as a striker. Is it time we re-assessed our strike force and attacking midfielders and played players in their rightful positions?
Carlos Vela will develop into a good striker, whether he becomes a scoring sensation in the Premier League is questionable. What is certain is that he has not answered any questions this season as he spent most of it on the bench. Next season is vital for Carlos Vela and a season long loan spell with West Ham will be ideal.
Eduardo is turning into a legend at the Emirates, partly out of what little we saw of him last season, but also in great part because of his injury. He came back this season and scored in the FA Cup, but as with all players who have been out injured, his comeback was blighted by further niggling injuries. Eduardo is definitely a player to keep as he is a goal scorer, a natural finisher, something that we lack at the club.
Niklas Bendtner is still young and learning the trade. His early exposure to international football and his loan spell at Birmingham have resulted in him wanting to play more and more. His overall play is better than Adebayor, his willingness to run for the cause, harass defenders and his link-up play is second to none. What Bendtner lacks is the killer instinct in front of goal. He is not blessed with speed, so he will not outrun any defenders, but he needs to learn to use his physique to bully defenders. Bendtner is probably two seasons away from being the finished article. If he is prepared to play a similar role to this season, then he is a player to keep.
Emanuel Adebayor is the most frustrating striker at the club. He joined from Monaco where he was not a regular, had an indifferent start to his career until last season. Then he took off and we were wondering is this a one season wonder or have we stumbled across something special? Well this season’s form has shown us that it was a one season wonder; worse, he has stopped running and everything he does looks half-hearted. Adebayor got his pay increase and like Kanu before him, he has stopped playing. At this moment, there are very few supporters that want him to stay. Any offer in the regions of £15 million should be accepted.
Andrei Arshavin has come in and has shown us real class. He has been playing out wide on the left which is not his favoured position. The Russian prefers to play behind the main striker. From what we have seen this season, he could be the new Bergkamp. He has the vision, the imagination and will in a full season get 10-15 goals. Wenger needs to look at Arshavin with a view to playing him behind the main striker; he will bring other players into the game and be more effective in this role.
Robin van Persie has always promised to produce the goods and this has been his most productive season. During our bleak winter, he either scored or created every goal. The goals have dried up for van Persie in recent weeks, and that is no surprise since we started playing 4-2-3-1. Van Persie is not suited to playing on the wing nor is he suited to playing as the sole striker. The added complication is that Robin has not yet singed a new contract. If Wenger persists with a 4-2-3-1 formation, then I do not see any place for van Persie at the club and Wenger might wish to sell him.
Theo Walcott is still learning the trade. Wenger has opted to use his speed on the wing, but within the next two or three seasons, Theo will move upfront. His speed is electric, what he lacks is the strength but he will develop into a top striker.
What Wenger needs to sort out in his own mind is what formation do we play next season and who are the personnel best suited to this formation. He also needs to establish, and this will take a season, as to whether the likes of Vela, Bendtner and Walcott will become top international strikers.