1 Player Arsenal Will Rue Not Signing

Charlie Melman@@charliemelmanCorrespondent IISeptember 4, 2013

JAKARTA, INDONESIA - JULY 25:  Demba Ba of Chelsea run for the ball during the match between Chelsea and Indonesia All-Stars at Gelora Bung Karno Stadium on July 25, 2013 in Jakarta, Indonesia.  (Photo by Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images)
Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images

Type anything with the word "Arsenal" into Google at the moment, and one is bound to be greeted by a plethora of stories about the club's signing of Mesut Özil.

And rightly so: The German's signing is, other than that of Gareth Bale, the most significant of the summer, and one that completely changes the stature of the football club.

Arsenal fans' palates should be moistened at the thought of Özil linking up with Santi Cazorla, Theo Walcott, Jack Wilshere and, especially, Olivier Giroud. His extraordinary talent is such that he could walk into any team in the world and instantly improve it tremendously.

Özil's main task will be creating chances for the striker. But just who will play there?

The obvious answer is Olivier Giroud. The Frenchman is in form at the moment, scoring in four of Arsenal's first five games and sealing victory in last weekend's North London Derby with a silky improvised finish.

But he obviously cannot play during every game during the season. Injury is a constant possibility, as are suspensions; indeed, Giroud was suspended for three of Arsenal's final four games at the end of last season, and there was hardly anyone able to replace him.

Arsene Wenger was clearly aware that this was an area of the squad that needed to be addressed. Rumors abounded that Gonzalo Higuain was on his way to the Emirates, and a deal looked all but sealed when Real Madrid increased their asking price and he was eventually sent off to Napoli.

Then there was the whole Luis Suarez morass, about which volumes have been written. There was clearly a misunderstanding between Suarez's agents, Liverpool and Arsenal, in which the transfer was eventually subsumed.

So, on deadline day, Wenger decided to make the most significant statement of intent of his managerial career—but he did not splash the cash on a world-class striker.

So, at 11:01 GMT on September 2, Arsenal committed to sitting on a striking knife-edge until January at the very least.

Even during the final hours of the transfer window, Wenger had the opportunity to acquire excellent striking cover, which would provide both insurance and productivity-stimulating competition.

When he phoned across London to enquire about Demba Ba, there must have been a legitimate possibility Chelsea would allow one of their many strikers to leave the club.

It is unfortunately an opportunity Arsenal are much weaker for not capitalizing on.

Here was a player whose imposing physical stature would have allowed for seamless replacement of Giroud, if and when such a switch is necessary. Wenger has said on record (per Arsenal.com) that the two are very similar players. Why not swap them and not have to change the organization of the team?

Chelsea would probably not have asked for an exorbitant fee for Ba because he is not their first-choice striker and he was signed in January for a meager £7 million, according to the Telegraph.

Ba is a lethal finisher with both his head and his feet; at both Chelsea and Newcastle, loose balls in the box that found any unencumbered part of his body were likely going to end up zipping past the goalkeeper.

Arsenal are now awash with creative talent, from Özil to Cazorla to Wilshere to Aaron Ramsey to Tomas Rosicky and even Walcott to an extent. Each of these players can split a defense when given the slightest opening, and Ba could have capitalized on this glut of opportunities.

Instead, the Gunners are stuck with Nicklas Bendtner, whom the club have attempted to sell for years and who strongly expressed his desire to leave in search of more playing time this summer.

Bendtner has not played a minute of football, competitive or otherwise, since a 16-minute run out for Juventus in a meaningless game on May 18.

In his statement, the Dane intimated that he could have finally been sold to another club if Arsenal had managed to buy a striker to replace him.

When he is chugging around without being properly fit while Giroud sits on the bench nursing an injury of any kind, remember that Arsenal failed to acquire Ba on deadline day—despite the justified hype about Özil.


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