As much as people criticize Arsene Wenger fairly or unfairly, one thing can we can agree on is that for the most part, he knows how to develop, as well as replace a striker. Talisman Thierry Henry left Arsenal, and then came Adebayor. Adebayor was not as good but scored more than 20 goals in his first season after Henry’s departure. When Adebayor left, Robin Van Persie developed into a world class striker (when he was injured, even Cesc Fabregas chipped in with 15 premier league goals in the 2009/2010 season). We could go back to the days of Anelka and Ian Wright and Dennis Bergkamp and the statistics would tell you that each year under Arsene Wenger, Arsenal had a prolific goal scorer.
This brings me to the point of this article. If there are concerns as to whether Arsenal can compete for premier league honors, they lie with the defence and physicality of the midfield but scorings goals should not be one of them. Last season, Arsenal lost two of its playmakers in Samir Nasri and Cesc Fabregas, but Van Persie was able to have his best season ever with the help of Arteta, Song, Rosicky, Gervino, Theo Walcott and a host of others. People could argue that Van Persie single handedly led arsenal to third place, after all, of the 74 goals Arsenal scored this past season, Van Persie scored 30 and assisted 8, meaning he was directly involved in about 51 per cent of Arsenal’s goals. I would argue that Henry was even more of one man wrecking crew than Van Persie, and after he left, Adebayor was able to carry on the torch. Unlike Henry, Adebayor was not one to frequently create his own goal scoring opportunities; he relied on service for his teammates. Arsene Wenger would figure out a way to allow his striker play to his strengths, and I expect the same for the new additions Olivier Giroud and Lukas Podolski. Last season Alex Song, Gervinho and Walcott were in the top 20 in the league in terms of assists. With proven finishers in Podolski and Giroud added to the squad, I do not see how goals will all of a sudden dry up for Arsenal.
Make no mistake, Robin Van Persie is a class act, his off the ball movement, ability to score from distance and his creativity was nightmare for defenders and neither Giroud nor Podolski could match that. However, he was the lone striker in Arsenal’s formation, and he liked to play in deeper possessions, meaning that in some games there was lack of presence in the box and difficulty in penetration as there was usually no player lurking in the box. Giroud is a true ‘number 9”, he does most of his damage in the box, he is a true poacher which may provide the likes of Arteta, Ramsey, Song, Wilshere and Rosicky with a true target man, someone they can look to ‘feed’ the ball to. The same goes for Podolski, whether he is played on the flank or as a striker, his movement and ability to get behind the defence would prevent teams from playing the high line against them, and we would see more through balls into the box.
The point of this article is to explain that if RVP does leave, it would be a disappointment, but be certain that Arsene Wenger would develop another prolific goal scorer as he has done time and time again.