According to Fichajes (h/t Tom Matson of Goal), the Gunners will battle with Liverpool to sign Hernandez, who has been in exceptional form for the Bundesliga side this term. Fichajes (h/t Aaron Flanagan of the Daily Mirror) also suggest Icardi is on the club’s radar and could be available for £20 million.
Here’s a look at how both of these forwards compare statistically in league matches to Arsenal’s current starting centre-forward, Olivier Giroud:
|Apps (sub)||18 (6)||19 (1)||14 (2)|
|Shots per game||2.9||2||2.7|
|Key passes per game||0.7||0.9||0.6|
|Dribbles per game||0.4||0.4||0.8|
It’s clear the Gunners do need to strengthen in this area of the pitch. Although the Frenchman has been in fine form for much of the campaign, he does tend to go through spells where he scores spades of goals, followed by dry patches.
The most recent run of games has fallen into the latter category and Arsenal have suffered as a result, with no goals in any of their last three league matches. As we can see here, courtesy of OptaJoe, as a whole the team have not been particularly prolific throughout 2015-16:
37 - Arsenal have scored 37 goals in the Premier League. The last time they had netted this few after 24 matches was 1998-99 (28). Dearth.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) February 4, 2016
Both Hernandez and Icardi may not be forwards who can contribute too much in general play, like a player in the mould of Giroud, but they each know where the back of the net is.
The former is well-acquainted with English football, too, having spent five years with Manchester United before his transfer this summer.
During his time in the Premier League, Hernandez was a regular goalscorer, although he was often used as an impact substitute due to his poor hold-up play and lack of technical flair.
At Leverkusen, he’s been handed the regular football he craves, and as we can see here, courtesy of the UEFA Europa League Twitter feed, he is reaping the rewards of some exceptional form:
Icardi’s situation is a little more peculiar, as he’s not been at his best this season.
Granted, Inter play a pragmatic style of football that makes being stationed at the point of the attack a particularly difficult job. However, the decisiveness that the youngster showed last term in front of goal, scoring 22 times in Serie A, has been lacking this time around.
Here is a look back at the tremendous 2014-15 enjoyed by the Inter man, in which he shared the Capocannoniere with Luca Toni:
Despite being handed the captain’s armband this season, Icardi has been left out of some big games by manager Roberto Mancini, including the most recent Milan derby.
As noted by beIN Sports’ Matteo Bonetti, it’s going to be intriguing to see what kind of role he plays in the weeks to come after recent events:
Tons of big matches upcoming for Inter. Curious to see how Mancini handles Icardi after making somewhat of a statement decision in derby.— Matteo Bonetti (@TheCalcioGuy) January 31, 2016
Which player would be the better fit for Arsenal?
From an Arsenal perspective, both players have their virtues. Hernandez is proven in the Premier League and is in tremendous form at the moment. Icardi, while he’s not in great touch, is still only 22 years old, has more room for improvement and is a lot more technically proficient than the Mexican, making him a more natural stylistic fit for the Gunners.
Nevertheless, either would represent a significant signing for Arsenal. It’s been a long time since they had a player capable of sniffing out chances in the penalty area likes these two can; it’s a missing quality that could well hinder the club in pursuit of domestic and European glory in the months to come.