Arsenal FC: Why Marouane Chamakh Will Be Key in the Gunners' Title Chase

Vijay MuraliAnalyst IMarch 4, 2011

Chamakh won the Wolves game on his own by scoring a brace
Chamakh won the Wolves game on his own by scoring a braceScott Heavey/Getty Images

Arsenal supporters were distraught after the Gunners were defeated by Birmingham City at Wembley in the Carling Cup final. Making matters worse was the news that their best striker, Robin van Persie, was injured in the game.

The Dutchman has had a long history of injury woes and though the initial prognosis ruled him out for only three to four weeks, supporters will be anxious to hear of his recovery, considering that it could turn out to be longer than that for the talented striker.

That being said, the Gunners were handed a morale boost in the title race when leaders Manchester United were defeated by a rejuvenated Chelsea side at Stamford Bridge. Arsenal also proved that they can cope without the imposing presence of Van Persie against Leyton Orient, whose golden run was halted by the Gunners at the Emirates.

With the game against Sunderland on Saturday, it could prove to be extremely important as to which decision Wenger takes regarding his strikers. Marouane Chamakh scored for the first time for the Gunners in around three months, while Nicklas Bendtner scored a well-taken hat-trick which proved that he has the calibre to be a top-class striker in the future.

Wenger has shown a tendency towards favoring the Danish striker ahead of the Moroccan for the role of the lead striker in the recent past—and Bendtner is looking completely fit and on form. It is likely that Bendtner will get the nod for the game against Sunderland while Chamakh continues his wait to recover his superb form from the start of the season.

It is surprising that Chamakh has endured a lot of criticism for his current loss of form, which has been mainly due to a combination of fatigue and loss in confidence. He started in plenty of games for the Gunners this season and is one of the main reasons why Arsenal are still in the race for the Premier League title.

Injuries to Robin van Persie and Nicklas Bendtner could have ruined Arsenal's season but the Moroccan's efforts ensured that the Gunners still had a physical presence up front. He said that he had lost his edge due to the number of games he played and that he would be rejuvenated by March.

As it turns out, Van Persie will be injured for the whole of March and it is up to Marouane Chamakh to lead the Gunners in this tricky month of fixtures.

Bendtner has also done extremely well since making his comeback but his versatility could be utilized by Wenger considering that Tomas Rosicky has not been at his best this season. Though critics have questioned Chamakh's abilities, any striker who is able to score 11 goals by the end of November in his debut season in the Premiership has undoubted quality—and if given a run of games, Chamakh could potentially regain his form and confidence.

Nicklas Bendtner's goals and assists towards the end of last season proved to be extremely vital but ultimately pointless, since the rest of the team couldn't step up to the plate due to countless injuries. However, with the Dane in good form and Marouane Chamakh to support him, Arsenal have two strikers who are capable of leading the Gunners to victories in the absence of the influential Robin van Persie.