Arsenal are now under severe pressure to perform better than they have thus far during this young season. The Gunners have really sputtered out of the gate, raising questions about their cohesiveness even during victories.
They have played five games since the new season kicked off and have only won two. Both—the opening-day win versus Crystal Palace and their triumph over Besiktas—were extremely narrow results and could easily have been draws or losses.
Arsenal have not lost yet, but they are objectively better than every team they have played so far. Victories over inferior opponents are necessary for a title challenger to provide a cushion against elite clubs.
Their latest blunder came on Sunday against Leicester City, as the Gunners left with a fortunate 1-1 draw.
The Foxes performed extremely well for a newly promoted side, but Arsenal put in an abject performance and have little to be proud of. Their defense was ripped apart on numerous counterattacks and there was no attacking bit whatsoever.
Much of the blame for Arsenal's inability to put the ball in the back of the net will be placed on the shoulders of young Yaya Sanogo.
Arsenal have not had sufficient depth at striker for years. Even when they had Robin van Persie converting every chance he had, there was only a grossly incompetent Marouane Chamakh to relieve him.
But at least they had a like-for-like replacement.
When Van Persie left and Olivier Giroud was brought in, no one else who possessed the Frenchman's attributes was available to deputize in case of injury, suspension or fatigue.
It is incredible that a team with aspirations of winning the title has allowed itself to erode so much in arguably the most important position on the pitch.
Arsenal now find themselves in just the position they had never adequately planned for: Giroud has suffered a long-term injury and Sanogo is the only available like-for-like replacement.
Alexis Sanchez can play up front—and is favored by Arsene Wenger in that position, according to Matt Barlow of the Daily Mail—but at 5'6", he is not terribly effective as a lone striker. A solo striker in Arsenal's system needs to be large and adept at holding the ball up so that the midfielders and wingers can play off him.
Sanogo (6'3") is big enough to do so and consequently has had the pressure of carrying Arsenal's attack heaped on his shoulders involuntarily.
That is an extraordinary amount of expectation surrounding a 21-year-old who has not yet scored for Arsenal in a competitive match.
That is not his fault, of course. Arsenal should have bought adequate cover for Giroud long ago, and Sanogo should be on a loan spell with an inferior team that will give him regular playing time.
Arsenal really just need to dip into the transfer market and purchase a short-term solution, slim though the pickings are.
But while the Daily Mail's Sami Mokbel reported the Gunners were interested in Loic Remy before his move to Chelsea, Wenger's post-Leicester remarks suggest that he is reluctant to seek an external solution.
Barring such a move, Sanogo will bear more responsibility and be more scrutinized than any other Arsenal player.
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