How Arsenal Might Get the Best Out of Gonzalo Higuain
Gonzalo Higuain would be a major splash for Arsenal if the reported transfer rumors are accurate.
Before discussing how Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger can get the most out of Higuain, here is a brief statistical look at some of his work from his 2012-13 La Liga season.
The Argentinean had a productive La Liga campaign for Real Madrid, scoring 16 goals in 28 appearances. His 16 tallies was the second-highest total of any player on Madrid, behind only the prolific Cristiano Ronaldo (34). The only other Madrid player that was able to score more than 10 goals was Karim Benzema, who netted 11.
It is no wonder that Higuain was able to bag so many goals; the attacking midfielder unloaded the third most shots per game of any player on Real Madrid, unleashing two per La Liga match. Only the aforementioned Ronaldo (6.9) and Benzema (2.1) fired off more shots in Madrid’s 2013 domestic campaign.
He acted as a creator at times too, dishing out five total assists and averaging 0.8 key passes per match. His five assists was the sixth-highest total of any Madrid player during their La Liga campaign. His key pass average was slightly more pedestrian as far as Madrid’s creators were concerned; his 0.8 average was the ninth-highest among Los Blancos players during the La Liga campaign.
His overall passing figures were a bit closer to the mean as well, averaging 19 passes per match with a 74.8 percent success rate.
Defensively, there is not much to report in regards to the La Liga season as he was almost exclusively on the pitch to contribute to the attack.
Assuming Wenger is able to pry Higuain from Spain and bring him to English shores, Arsenal knows what they are getting: a dynamic scoring threat with an ability to find the back of the net in many different capacities.
Scoring goals must be priority number one for Wenger when it comes to how to best use Higuain. The French manager needs to set his tactics around getting him the ball in dangerous areas of the field. That means, first and foremost, that Higuain needs to have little to no defensive responsibilities. Let Higuain, who is clever enough to find open pockets of space on the field, drift and float as he pleases in the final third.
That way, he is free to attack where he best sees fit. Tactically, playing Higuain in behind two strikers would be best: he has players around him to feed off of and can spend the majority of his energy trying to score.
This will require Arsenal to bolster its midfield with a box-to-box, holding the central midfielder to do the running and work without the ball. It will be difficult work, but whoever fills the role will allow Higuain to focus almost entirely on finishing.
And finishing is something Arsenal, like nearly every club in the world, could desperately use more of. In fact, Higuain’s 16 domestic goals topped the domestic total of any player on Arsenal during the 2012-13 English Premier League campaign.
Theo Walcott was the team’s highest English Premier League scorer, nabbing 14 total goals. Only three other Gunners were able to record more than 10 goals.
There is no doubt that Higuain is a special, very technical player. Should his transfer be completed, it will be fascinating to see if his skills translate from the style of La Liga to the English game. Regardless, it should be a move that helps Arsenal compete in both England and the Champions League.
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