Why Yaya Sanogo Is the Answer to Arsenal's Attacking Problems

Charlie MelmanCorrespondent IIAugust 10, 2014

Arsenal's Yaya Sanogo celebrates scoring his fourth goal during the Emirates Cup soccer match between between Arsenal and Benfica at Arsenal's Emirates Stadium in London, Saturday, Aug. 2, 2014.  (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Matt Dunham/Associated Press

Arsenal have really been crying out for another striker since last summer. Their insufficient depth at that crucial position was repeatedly exposed last season, contributing to Olivier Giroud's burnout and much of the criticism that Arsene Wenger faced.

As awful as the Gunners' defense was during their shellackings by Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City, their inability to score goals prevented them from reversing the momentum and putting any of those clubs on their heels.

Though Giroud faced endless criticism for his failure to perform last season, especially against the biggest teams under the brightest lights, he was being asked to shoulder a burden that no top-level footballer should have to deal with.

He was Arsenal's only viable option up front, and as such started almost every game for which he was fit. It often looked like Giroud was running through molasses, and his positioning suffered. Such small but crucial things are easy for a player to let slip from his mind when fatigue takes over.

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 02:  Yaya Sanogo of Arsenal celebrates scoring his 4th goal with fans during the Emirates Cup match between Arsenal and Benfica at the Emirates Stadium on August 2, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Michael Regan/Getty Images

Yet Arsenal were not wholly without striking options last season. Yaya Sanogo did, after all, start against Bayern Munich in the Champions League and Liverpool in the FA Cup when both sides were at the peaks of their respective powers.

Obviously, Arsene Wenger turned his keen eye for untapped potential to Sanogo and saw some morsel of skill that convinced him the youngster was a valuable part of the team.

At this stage of Sanogo's career, one would hope to see rapid development. He is 21 now, and should be maturing physically and tactically. While Sanogo does not have a huge body of work, the signs of progress are plainly visible.

His confidence and stature are clearly growing. One could see this as early as the end of last season, when he came excruciatingly close to breaking his goalscoring duck on numerous occasions. Sanogo started to boss defenders with his large body and would find himself in positions that made it easy for his teammates to pass him the ball.

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 02:  Joel Campbell of Arsenal celebrates scoring with Yaya Sanogo during the Emirates Cup match between Arsenal and Benfica at the Emirates Stadium on August 2, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Michael Regan/Getty Images

He has exploded out of the gate during preseason, netting a fabulous foursome of goals against Benfica in the Emirates Cup and impressing in every other game he has played.

Sanogo's footwork is crisper and his movement is more precise. Though he is far from being world-class, he is coming along very nicely, and Wenger is probably very pleased with his development.

That is why he is the ideal solution to Arsenal's problem of depth up front. Giroud is good enough for the issue to be depth and not quality, and both Alexis Sanchez and Theo Walcott are capable of playing through the middle.

Sanogo fills the immediate need while providing some collateral benefits. Whereas Sanchez and Walcott are not true strikers, he spends all his time up front. He's also a very hungry young player, which will do just enough to keep Olivier Giroud on his toes.

That is really all that Arsenal need at the moment. If Wenger was willing to play a much more raw Sanogo in a crucial Champions League tie against the reigning champions of Europe last season, he will certainly be willing to use him more liberally now.

That is good news for Giroud, who will receive a much-needed rest in cup games and even potentially against some Premier League opponents.

Because Arsenal's attacking problems are relatively minor, Sanogo is the perfect fit.