Arsenal have looked out of ideas in front of goal in recent times, and a big part of this is down to a lack of a specialist winger
The injury to Santi Cazorla has coincided with Arsenal’s downturn in form, with the Gunners sorely missing the Spaniard’s influence from midfield.
But there are two more reasons the Gunners have run out of ideas in front of goal; a lack of goal-scoring wingers and Theo Walcott’s injury and subsequent intermittent appearances.
Walcott missed a couple of weeks through injury and only returned against Manchester United last weekend, when he failed to score.
Prior to that, he was on a blistering run of form – a run of form that coincided with Arsenal’s most successful period this season. Walcott has scored 8 goals in 14 appearances across all competitions, but it is on the other wing that the problem lies.
Alex Iwobi is clearly a gifted young player, but is he really a player than Arsenal can rely on in order to mount a sustained title challenge?
Wenger constantly speaks about how he wants the goals to be shared across the team, with the midfielders contributing and easing the pressure on his strikers.
It is surprising, then, that he thinks Iwobi is an automatic first-team starter, considering the Nigerian youngster has yet to score this season despite making 15 appearances in all competitions.
Wenger has previously said that he wants Iwobi to start scoring goals, citing the youngster’s nervousness in front of goal as a problem :
“What we want from him now is the finishing.” he said.
“He’s too nervous at the moment when he has the possibility to finish.”
The most glaring example of this was Iwobi’s miss against Tottenham when the winger was clean through on goal, but fired his shot straight into the arms of a grateful Hugo Lloris.
If Wenger wants his team to win the big games – as he has repeatedly stated they need to do this season – then he also needs players that he can rely on to score when given the chances.
Olivier Giroud’s finishing is a great source of frustration to Arsenal fans everywhere, and the crowd is audibly exasperated every time the Frenchman misses a chance.
Alex Iwobi – while confident on the ball – is still young and needs to be protected by Wenger. He cannot be made a scapegoat by fans at the Emirates, and the more he fails to deliver the more he will become just that.
Just look at his reaction last night when consoled by Gabriel and Petr Cech, and you can see how deeply affected he was by his part in Paris Saint-Germain’s equalising goal.
Monreal, Gabriel and Cech making sure Iwobi didn't take his own-goal too hard:pic.twitter.com/H9UI9V83ue
— Planet Arsenal (@Planet_Arsenal) November 24, 2016
Wenger must be careful with a player who is clearly very, very talented. The best way to do this – and to boost Arsenal’s title challenges – would be to sign a winger who already has experience and the ability required to play at a club like Arsenal.
We take a look at 3 potential wingers Wenger could sign, who Arsenal realistically have a chance of signing :
This season, Riyad Mahrez has failed to replicate the form that won him the PFA Player of the Year award last season.
But that is not just down to Mahrez, it is a result of the tremendous effort that a Leicester team that won the title last year put into the Premier League.
They look like a different side in the league this season, and every player looks a shadow of their former selves. However, for anyone who watches football, it is easy to see that this is just a blip if Mahrez’s career.
The Algerian is a silky player who is capable of great skill and clever play. Mahrez also scored 17 goals in 37 appearances in the league last season, a respectable return for a winger.
Linked with moves away all summer – to Chelsea, Arsenal and even Barcelona – Mahrez opted to stay at Leicester and continue their dream Champions League campaign.
However, it is hard to see him staying at Leicester past this summer should he begin to play the way we know he can, and Arsenal could do worse than put in a serious bid for the winger.
Yannick Ferreira Carrasco
Wenger will know Carrasco well from 2015, when his former side Monaco unceremoniously dumped Arsenal out of the Champions League. It was Carrasco’s goal in the first leg of that tie that would eventually prove to be the difference, with the winger scoring a third in the 94th minute of the first leg against Arsenal.
Carrasco was a constant thorn in Arsenal’s side, from his explosive attacking play to his tenacious defensive ethic. His performances for Monaco that season led to Diego Simeone snapping him up at Atletico Madrid on a five-year deal for a €20 million fee.
That figure now looks like an absolute bargain, as Carrasco has been in fine form this season, picking up 7 goals and 2 assists in just 14 starts. The Belgian is also a fighter – someone who is always harrying opposing defenders and is a player that is not daunted by the magnitude of a game or the opposition he faces.
This is exactly the kind of player Arsene Wenger needs, and he would definitely be an upgrade on Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Arsenal’s history with Marco Reus is well documented. Arsene Wenger tried his best to sign the German international before he opted for Dortmund, and Reus immediately showed just why Wenger was so intent on signing him.
Reus is a player that has it all in his locker – speed, technique, intelligence and the kind of passing ability that Arsene Wenger adores. Last season, he notched up 23 goals in 43 appearances playing primarily from the left wing – Iwobi’s regular position.
Reus has one problem – and it is one that many Arsenal fans will cite as a big enough reason not to sign him – his fitness. In the last 5 seasons, Reus has only once made more than 30 appearances.
However, Reus is now approaching his peak at 27 years of age, and could represent a brilliant option for Arsene Wenger – not only for Iwobi to learn from, but for Wenger himself to get closer to completing a team that so often looks agonisingly close to challenging for the title.
Reus’ current contract also only lasts until 2019, so it is unlikely Wenger will have to spend ridiculous amounts on him come the summer, especially given his injury history.
Marco Reus is a brilliant player, and can make a difference to any team. He could also well mean the difference between first and fourth for Arsene Wenger’s side.