The disappointing draw against the same Aston Villa side that was hammered 8 – 0 by Chelsea, impressive draw against Everton, two disappointing defeats in a row to Swansea and Olympiakos, a Mikel Arteta-inspired win over West Brom, a humiliating penalty shootout loss to Bradford, an emphatic victory over Reading and more recently, a nervy solitary win over Wigan.
Inconsistency has become Arsenal’s watchword this season and despite winning three Premier League games on the trot, the Gunners have managed to win only eight games from a possible 18 in the Premier League this season.
Every thoroughbred Arsenal fan will tell you that the club has a vast array of creative talent within its ranks.
The chant, “Oh Santi Cazorla”, has reverberated around the Emirates this season due to the mesmeric football the Spaniard has brought to his new club. His close-control is inhuman, his ambidexterity is a stuff made of legends, his creativity is unrivaled and he certainly has an eye for goal making him one hell of a package for the Gunners, rendering him indispensable to the team.
Then there’s Jack Wilshere, the super-talented box-to-box midfielder that has become a mainstay in the team after making his long-awaited comeback from injury. His determination and passion for the game knows no bounds and he gives 110 percent in every game he plays. He has blended so well with the Spanish duo of Mikel Arteta and Santi Cazorla to form a formidable midfield triumvirate.
While it’s going to take some stuffing to relieve the aforementioned players from their first-team duties, Arsenal still has the likes of Tomas Rosicky, Aaron Ramsey and to an extent, Abou Diaby (if he ever comes back) if they need an injection of creativity to the team.
With all these players that can give defense-splitting passes against the opposition on a consistent basis, Arsenal’s attacking verve in the final third has been an aberration this season, as the forwards tend to be either profligate with their chances or aren’t available for those passes most times.
I’ll still give credit where it’s due.
Theo Walcott leads the club’s goalscoring charts with 11 goals and he has gotten a run-out in the center forward position for two games in a row. His potent weapon remains his pace which makes the Arsenal midfield try to send him on the clear with quick-fire through balls, with the knowledge that his off-the-ball movement remains a constant thorn to the flesh of opposition defenders.
Against Reading, Santi Cazorla teed up Walcott with a brilliant through ball and within seconds, he was one-on-one with Adam Federici, only to fire the ball straight at the goalie. Late on, he put the icing on a well-baked cake with a neat finish to put the game beyond doubt for the Gunners.
When the Gunners visited the DW Stadium to play Wigan, Walcott became a peripheral figure but provided the match-winning assist for his team as he hit the turf in the penalty box after he was shot down by a highly-trained sniper somewhere in the stands. In a game where Arsenal needed a focal point in attack against a very physical Wigan side to hold up play, Walcott was found wanting.
Besides Theo Walcott, Arsenal has Olivier Giroud, the hot sensation that set Ligue 1 ablaze last season with 21 goals. After securing a £12m move to the Emirates in the summer, Giroud hasn’t really hit the ground running and has scored seven goals thus far. His aerial ability is a force to be reckoned with and he’s a great team player in every sense of the word.
However, his lack of goals on a consistent basis has taken its toll as he has started affecting his confidence levels (remember his penalty tussle with Arteta against West Brom?) and there have been times when his manager has selected Lukas Podolski and even Gervinho in his stead.
The January transfer window is around the corner and as expected, Arsenal has been linked with a host of strikers from the football world.
Klass-Jan Huntelaar was in a hot streak last season for Schalke scoring 48 goals in all competitions, and he has picked up where he left off in the current campaign, scoring 10 goals this season, with two scored against Arsenal in the Champions League group stages.
With just six months left on his contract, he was heavily linked with a move to Arsenal (via the Mirror). At the proposed knock-down price of £6m, Huntelaar was going to be one hell of a bargain, but the Guardian has reported that the Dutch predator has extended his contract with the German outfit till 2015,
“I’ve thought about this decision long and hard and I’m very grateful that the club allowed me the time to do so. But now I’ve made the choice I’m most comfortable with.”
Tell that to Theo Walcott, at least Jack Wilshere has urged him to extend his contract.
With Huntelaar out of the equation, I want to take some time out to weigh Arsenal’s attacking options in the transfer market.