With little time left in the market, Arsenal fans are growing frustrated at the clubs lack of activity, particularly when it comes to signing attacking players. The club are looking to add but Wenger’s latest comments could indicate that he will stick with what he’s got rather than look for external solutions.
Speaking before Saturday evenings game against Leicester City where Alexis is expected to spearhead Arsenal’s attack, Wenger said: “I think it is worth it to try (Alexis at ST) as he has the quality to go behind.”
Although it didn’t work well against Liverpool, Alexis does appear to have the attributes of a good striker and he has shown that for Chile previously, albeit in a two striker formation. Wenger continued: ‘He has similar qualities (to Luis Suarez) It is interesting to see how well he copes. He is technically top.’
A big claim from Arsene, but a true one – to an extent. Alexis is of a similar build to Suarez, what he lacks is that killer instinct you can only develop when playing as a striker consistently. He needs to play regularly and gain confidence in a central role if he is to succeed there. Many will question his lack of height, but Alexis can hold his own in the air and some of the best strikers in the world, Suarez and Sergio Aguero for example, do not have much in terms of height to offer. In a match where Arsenal may require more of a target, they will be able to put Olivier Giroud through the middle, potentially alongside Alexis.
I think Alexis will look better as a number 9 when more established, top quality midfielders are in support of him. Last week we saw an unfit Aaron Ramsey, out of shape Theo Walcott and Alex Iwobi behind Alexis – not the best trio by any means. Mesut Ozil will return soon and so often we have seen the two record Arsenal signings link up brilliantly, perhaps as a number 10 and number 9 that duo could be the most influential when both are in central areas?
The immediate reaction from some fans may be that Alexis struggled against Liverpool up front, but he had several bad games playing as a winger last season. He just needs to get into a rhythm and I think he is more than capable of doing that up top. He is probably the most deadly finisher in the Arsenal squad right now.
The Chilean’s work ethic means that Arsenal can apply pressure from the front and force mistakes from oppponents defenders, we saw this in spells against Liverpool and I think if this were to be well-drilled and practicsed, it could give Arsenal an alternative attacking identity.
Arsene may need to search for an internal solution like this one due to the fact that there is a serious shortage of attacking quality in the market right now. The lack of central strikers of top quality on the market is making it seriously hard. Gonzalo Higuain, who turns 29 later this year moved for nearly £80million. Alexandre Lacazette, a striker who cannot get into the France squad ahead of Andre-Pierre Gignac and Olivier Giroud, will reportedly cost any suitors around £50million. The market is crazy for strikers right now, so perhaps it is a good idea to think of a different solution.
It may be the case that Arsene is still looking to sign a striker, but these comments could simply come as a way of supporting Alexis who is expected to start the next couple of games at least as the clubs main striker. Wenger may be saying stuff like this to try and appease the fans incase his efforts to bring in a new forward do not happen.
In fact Wenger has changed the tone somewhat in terms of who he may or may not be signing recently. He has hinted that he could move for a player in any position, not just a striker. Arsene said he will shop via quality and not position. This, combined with the fact that he has spoken about using Alexis as a striker leads me to believe that the club may be looking to bring in a top quality midfielder instead of a new frontman. Perhaps a wide player like Julian Draxler or even James Rodriguez? With Mesut Ozil and perhaps another big name midfielder supporting the Chilean, maybe the Gunners could finally line up with an exciting front four.