With Olivier Giroud’s surgery knocking him out of action until January, the buzz around Arsenal is that the team now needs to buy a new striker if they want to compete for a title. This has led to all kinds of rumors about who Arsenal is targeting and the obscene amounts of money it will cost to acquire a player.
I’d argue the opposite – acquiring a new striker would actually harm Arsenal’s chances of winning a major title. This is not a compliment to Giroud, who I think could be upgraded. Rather, here are three reasons why buying a striker before this transfer window closes would be a bad idea for the Gunners.
1. It takes money away from positions of more desperate need
As much as Arsenal may need a new target striker, it needs a defensive midfielder and center back more. Arsene Wenger seems to want to use Mikel Arteta and Jack Wilshere as his pivot men in the back, but neither offer the defensive skills or speed to break down an opponent’s counter attack that inevitably comes when Arsenal press. Mathieu Flamini is quality, but older and prone to being cautioned and thus is not of high enough quality for a title contender. As many have said, without a true world-class defensive midfielder Arsenal are not contenders.
As for the back four, while Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny are world-class both were lucky to avoid major injuries last season. Koscielny, especially with his penchant for crashing around the box on corners, is vulnerable to picking up something long-term. If either player goes down, Arsenal are left with Calum Chambers covering, which means less cover elsewhere, or a less proven option. A third centerback is a priority.
Unlike Chelsea and Manchester City, the club does not have a seemingly endless supply of cash to spend on transfers. While their renegotiated sponsorships have helped and provided capital, the board and manager are still the tight fiscal hawks that have been there the past few years when Arsenal spent nothing. There is a limit to the club’s spending this season.
2. The strikers “available” do not fit Arsenal’s needs
Arsenal have been linked to a number of names, but pretty much all of them are awkward fits or incredibly expensive. Buying Edinson Cavani would be magnificent, except it would wipe out the cash for the need of a defensive lynchpin. Falcao would also be interesting, but the rumors currently have him only being offered as a loan and for tens of millions of dollars at that. Many of the other names are unproven, not back-to-goal forwards, or simply not an improvement on what Arsenal have. A striker signing just to sign someone would be foolish.
3. Arsenal can survive, maybe even excel, using a “false 9”
Wenger quietly did an interesting thing on Wednesday against Besiktas. His team allowed the Turkish club to own possession and he used Alexis Sanchez up top to spring a counter against his opponent when they were overextended. This tactic would not work every time, but Arsenal’s best players up front – Sanchez, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and soon Theo Walcott – are all fast aggressive players who work best when put into space near the goal. Why not set up the team with a “false 9” and allow the excellent passers in the midfield to find these forwards and allow them to create opportunities? In the long run, this may be more advantageous for the club than trying to force a new striker into the normal formation.