Arsenal's Striker Debate: How Should Wenger Utilize Van Persie and Chamakh?

Vijay MuraliAnalyst INovember 11, 2010

WOLVERHAMPTON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 10: Marouane Chamakh of Arsenal (L) celebrates after scoring their first goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Arsenal, at Molineux on November 10, 2010 in Wolverhampton, England.  (Photo by Scott Heavey/Getty Images)
Scott Heavey/Getty Images

Marouane Chamakh produced a brilliant performance against Wolverhampton, scoring both of the team's goals to propel Arsenal to a much-needed victory. The Gunners have not been in great form, and Chamakh's goals will boost their title hopes—they are currently five points behind Chelsea. Chamakh was signed on a free transfer from Bordeaux in the summer to bolster Arsenal's attack, following the sad departure of Eduardo.

Chamakh has already settled in London and has been one of the standout players for the Gunners this season. He has scored seven goals for Arsenal and is the joint top goal scorer along with Theo Walcott and Samir Nasri. Chamakh was not expected to be a prolific scorer when he signed for the Gunners, but from the looks of it there is reason to believe that he will be one of the leading goal scorers for Arsenal this season.

He has excellent aerial ability, which he demonstrated against Wolves when he rose high to thump Alex Song's cross into the back of the net, and this aspect of his game provides Arsenal with another option when their intricately flowing passing is not able to split the opposing defence. His first touch is good, and he holds up the ball to get his teammates into the play. His link-up play is also very good.

However, he is not a deadly finisher with his feet and does not shoot on goal even when he gets in relatively good positions. He is a strong man, and though he doesn't shoot too often, he has the ability to fashion decent openings for his teammates. His two goals against Wolves were both classic examples of clinical finishing. Chamakh has grown into one of the most important members of the team, which presents Arsene Wenger with a problem: Should he drop Marouane Chamakh when Robin van Persie is fit to start?

Robin Van Persie is Arsenal's best striker, and is one of the most talented players in the world. He has great vision, ability and shooting range. His movement and deadliness in front of goal is a threat to any opposition in the world, and if he does remain fit, he will score a lot of goals. But he is one of the most fragile players in the Premiership, and has not had a consistent run of matches without injuries.

However, he is one of the most inspirational players on the team, and in a recent instance, he was brought on even though he was far from being sharp against Newcastle to energize the Gunners. Though he could not help Arsenal salvage anything from the game, his return to fitness from injury brought smiles to faces of the Arsenal supporters at the Emirates.

Van Persie has shown in the past that he is very versatile and can play on the wings or as a second striker if he is not deployed as the lone centre forward. He is also one of the most creative players on the squad, and can create chances for himself and others because of his impeccable ball control and amazing vision.

Nicklas Bendtner is the other striker who deserves a chance in the near future considering that he has immense potential and has the ability to develop into a world-class striker. He is a giant and provides a towering presence in an otherwise small Arsenal lineup when he plays as the lone striker. He has missed a lot of chances in the past, but he is developing into an astute finisher and gets into excellent positions, which helps him bag some important goals for the Gunners.

He brings with him tons of belief and self confidence, and his belief is infectious within the squad. His mental strength helped Arsenal score goals in the closing minutes of many games, which helped them stay alive in the title race. He has been troubled by his groin injuries, but is now close to full match fitness and should get more playing time in the future.

Arsene Wenger has been forced to play Marouane Chamakh as the lone striker because of the injuries to Van Persie and Bendtner early in the season. But with all the three strikers fit, it will be a difficult decision for Wenger. It will be unfair and hard on Chamakh if he has to make way for Van Persie after his impressive performances for the Gunners.

Nicklas Bendtner will have to settle for a place on the bench for the important games if either Chamakh or Robin Van Persie is fit. If Wenger decides to play both Van Persie and Chamakh in a game, he might play one of them as a winger. He has not favoured a two-striker formation in the last two seasons, but with the attacking options in his arsenal, he might be tempted to revert to a 4-4-2.

Chamakh and Van Persie can both hold up the ball, and they also have good movement which will cause a lot of trouble for the opposition's defenders. Van Persie's creativity, shooting skills and versatility could mean that he is deployed slightly behind Chamakh as the second striker this season. An interesting fact to note is that both Van Persie and Chamakh have not played together this season, and it will be interesting to see the chemistry between the two strikers.

Van Persie is a sure starter when he is fit, but Chamakh should not be dropped from the team, considering his valuable performances. Chamakh has much better aerial ability and offers Arsenal a new dimension. Besides, he is one of the more fit and consistent players on the team and deserves his place in the side.

Although Wenger has stated that Theo Walcott will be playing a central role in the future, it might not be the case this season. Carlos Vela can also play as a centre forward, but the Mexican international has not realised his potential yet, and he remains at the bottom of the pecking order, below Bendtner, Chamakh and Van Persie.

Arsenal have a wealth of attacking options, and Wenger should be bold and play a two-striker formation for some games. If Robin van Persie can regain fitness and form, and should Chamakh continue his excellent form, the Gunners will be a force to reckon with and can beat the best teams in the business.