Another delightful thrashing from the Arsenal. It's now 6 times that we've scored 5 or more goals this calendar year which is a remarkable feat to accomplish. Goals from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Lukas Podolski, a brace from Olivier Giroud and a hat-trick from Theo Walcott destroyed Newcastle 7-3 on a rainy night at the Emirates Stadium.
It's now 4 league wins in a row and while Arsenal are still very much in contention for a top 3 finish, there's another problem which has arisen - Arsene Wenger's new striker dilemma.
There seemed to be a need for a striker at Arsenal and with rumours of Demba Ba signing for us very soon - which maybe true or false - this game may have changed Wenger's mind with regard to the striker's department.
For majority of the season, Giroud has been used as the main striker up front and is probably our only established striker if you disregard Marouane Chamakh as he barely makes the bench nowadays while Gervinho up front was a failed experiment and Podolski - who played as the main striker for Koln last season - was only used on rare occasions.
Walcott has stalled on a new contract this season, resulting in a squad role for the England international, though to his credit, he has forced his way up the pecking order. He is now being given what he's wanted for so long and having played the last 3 league games up front, the results are quite good - 4 goals and 2 assists. Why he's playing there of all of a sudden is another story but the fact is, we can now consider him a striker at the club and Wenger seems content with him there as well.
His first goal on the night against Newcastle was an Henry-esque finish from the left hand side. His second was an emphatic top corner finish. His third was a delightful, cheeky chip. In short, all were great goals and if Theo is close to a new contract (which might be the reason he's playing up front), this is great news.
Now on the other hand, we have Olivier Giroud - after having a good run of form, the tall Frenchman went a bit dry - until the win against Newcastle where he came on as a substitute and scored a great brace; a strong diving header and a powerful right shot drive from inside the box. That makes it 11 goals and 9 assists in 25 games so far which isn't a bad tally whatsoever for a guy playing in a new country and league and of course, adapting to a new style of play.
And finally, we have Demba Ba - who scored twice against Arsenal (future employers?) and was a constant threat throughout the game with his runs and presence in the box. If this game was an audition, then Ba certainly passed it with flying colours to make it 13 league goals in 20 games this season - if Wenger is truly interested in the Senegalese forward, he'll only cost an approximate bargain £7-7.5 million.
If we look at all the goals scored by Ba, Giroud and Walcott on the night, they were all different and unique in their own way. Wenger surely has a dilemma on his hands - should Giroud be his long term striker? In my personal opinion, I feel he's better than Walcott up front and should be our long term striker and that he'll only improve once he's completely adapted to the Premier League.
Or does Wenger want to make Walcott his long term striker? His pace certainly gives us a different dimension and his brilliant performance yesterday would have surely convinced Wenger (if it hadn't already) that he's worth the £100k per week he's demanding. Or does Wenger play both of them together? It would mean the benching of a midfielder but the results could be devastating with Walcott playing off Giroud as I don't think I'm alone in thinking both of them compliment each other.
If a 4-4-2 is the case, then Ba should surely be an option for Wenger too? Available at a bargain price, he offers something different from the current two strikers Wenger has at his disposal. Ba is the type of player who would be willing to take any kind of shot (with most of them resulting in goals), can score freekicks, make his powerful presence felt and has a knack of being in the right place at the right time with his off the ball runs.
It'll be interesting to see how Wenger operates in the transfer market when it comes to strikers but if Arsenal end up retaining the services of Walcott and announcing the signing of Ba - along with Giroud, Arsenal would have a dream strike force. Balanced with pace, power and presence, as seen by the uniqueness of their goals, Wenger could finally win a trophy this season. Depth is the magic word but the fixing of the dilemma depends on what Wenger wants. Walcott to lead, Giroud to lead or two strikers upfront with Ba as an option? I know which one I'd want.
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