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Arsenal Transfers: Can Arsene Wenger Get the Best out of Fernando Torres?

ST. LOUIS, MO - MAY 23: Fernando Torres #9 of Chelsea controls the against the Manchester City during a friendly match at Busch Stadium on May 23, 2013 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
Karl MatchettFeatured ColumnistJune 30, 2013

Arsenal have yet to make any serious moves in this summer's transfer window, but the latest rumours have them targeting a Premier League record signing from a rival London club.

Dean Jones and Dave Kidd of Mirror Football report that the Gunners are set to move for Chelsea's Spanish striker Fernando Torres, who is likely to be told by new boss Jose Mourinho that he will not be a first-choice starter for the Blues next season.

Torres cost Chelsea £50 million when he signed from Liverpool in 2011, but struggled for goals initially.

An improved season, in terms of goals, saw him net 22 goals in all competitions and he has added five more for Spain at this summer's FIFA Confederations Cup.

Would he be the right answer for Arsenal and Arsene Wenger?

 

Arsenal's Front-Line Options

Last season, Arsenal largely went with Olivier Giroud as their lone striker, supported by an array of second-line midfielders.

Theo Walcott and Lukas Podolski were chief among these. Both also started intermittently as the central striker, as did Gervinho. Santi Cazorla, Jack Wilshere and one or two others started in attacking midfield roles in an attempt to provide creativity and a goal threat.

Giroud, however, was the undisputed first-choice striker for most of the campaign and managed 11 goals in his 34 games. The French striker ended the season with just a 10 percent shot conversion rate.

 

Is Torres a Better Option?

For his part, Fernando Torres only managed eight goals in 36 games in the Premier League, with most of his success in front of goal coming in continental competition. His league conversion rate was a paltry 11.8 percent, marginally better than Giroud's.

The two are very different strikers.

The current Arsenal forward prefers to lead the line centrally, is a physical threat and makes link-up play with his back to goal.

Torres prefers to work the channels, makes space for himself with a quick shift in direction and is not always possessed of an assured first touch outside the penalty area.

Much might depend on who the manager, Arsene Wenger, views as the regular No. 10 next season to see if Torres or Giroud would provide the better option to feed off their support.

 

Tactically Aligning Torres to Arsenal

Torres has always played better as a lone striker, not as a No. 2. He drifts the entire width of the pitch, bustling down the channels and looking at times as though he's just two or three games away from finding his former acceleration, power and finishing confidence.

Would the likes of Cazorla and Wilshere provide a more striker-centric service than the Chelsea attacking midfielders did?

Perhaps the more pertinent question should be, would Wenger be capable of getting enough out of Torres so that he was not only better than Giroud, but good enough to fire Arsenal much closer to the top of the table?

Given that Arsenal finished 16 points off the pace last season and Torres has managed 15 league goals in his two-and-a-half years at Chelsea, the odds seem to be against it.

Utilising Torres as Arsenal's focal point could inject more penetration, penalty box threat and pace into their attack, but it's unlikely to get them significantly closer to the league title without further considerable additions to the line of support behind him.

 

Statistics courtesy of WhoScored.com and TransferMarkt.co.uk.

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