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Alexis Sanchez version 2.0 required

Alexis Sanchez

With a total of 65 goals scored this season and Arsenal registering 70+ goals in past championship seasons, Arsenal need to score a greater number of goals next season if they are to put themselves in a position to genuinely challenge for the premier league title.

With Arsenal’s current attacking system reliant on the team’s number 10 and centre forward being Arsenal’s chief creators outside and within an often heavily crowded opposition penalty box, much of Arsenal’s goal scoring threat is dependent on Arsenal’s wide forwards who are not involved in creating the opportunity to pass or cross to Giroud, to make themselves available in and around the opposition’s penalty box, for Giroud to create goal scoring opportunities for.

With the exception of Sanchez (16 goals and 9 assists in 35 wide forward starts) Arsenal’s wide forward options – Walcott (1 goals and 0 assists in 9 wide forward starts), Campbell (3 goals and 3 assists in 14 wide forward starts), Ox (1 goal and no assists in 11 wide forward starts), Iwobi (2 goals and 2 assists in 8 wide forward starts), Welbeck (1 goal and no assists in 2 wide forward starts), Ramsey (2 goals and no assists in 10 wide forward starts), Gnabry (no senior appearances) have struggled or failed to contribute this season, particularly in a goal scoring capacity.

With Giroud (16) and Sanchez (13) both registering double figure goal scoring tallies in the premier league this season and Arsenal’s successful 1997/98 and 2002/03 campaigns built on at least 3 player reaching double figures in the goal scoring department (97/98 – Bergkamp (16), Overmars (12), Wright (10); 02/03 – Henry (24), Pires (14), Wiltord (10)) it’s clear Arsenal need more goals from their other wide forward role.

Scrutinising each of Arsenal’s existing wide forward options highlights that for some a lack of game time has severely hampered their ability to demonstrate their effectiveness, while for others it’s a lack of positional sense and/or skill rendering them ineffective in the role.

Sanchez
– 16 goals and 9 assists in 35 wide forward starts
– Finishing (3.4 shots per game)
– Passing (79%)
– Key passes (2.1 per game)
– Defensive contribution (1.6 tackles and 0.9 interceptions per game)
– Demonstrates a willingness to remain wide when necessary to contribute to Arsenal’s build up play.
– He appears to possess the skills to meaningfully contribute to Arsenal’s efforts outside the box to create passing or crossing opportunities aimed at Giroud.
– Demonstrates a willingness take up positions within the opposition’s penalty box to feed off Giroud’s creativity.
– Demonstrates a willingness take up positions within the opposition’s penalty box to feed off Giroud’s creativity.
– His finishing skills appear controlled.

Walcott

Walcott

-1 goals and 0 assists in 9 wide forward starts
– Finishing (1.8 shots per game)
– Passing (78.6%)
– Key passes (0.5 per game)
– Defensive contribution (0.4tackles and 0.5 interceptions per game)
– Fails to remain wide when necessary to contribute to Arsenal’s build up play.
– Doesn’t appear to possess the skills to meaningfully contribute to Arsenal’s efforts outside the box to create passing or crossing opportunities aimed at Giroud.
– Demonstrates a willingness take up positions within the opposition’s penalty box to feed off Giroud’s creativity.
– His finishing skills appear uncontrolled.

Campbell

Campbell

– 3 goals and 3 assists in 14 wide forward starts
– Finishing (0.8 shots per game)
– Passing (78.5%)
– Key passes (0.8 per game)
– Defensive contribution (1.4 tackles and 0.5 interceptions per game)
– Demonstrates a willingness to remain wide when necessary to contribute to Arsenal’s build up play.
– He appears to possess the skills to meaningfully contribute to Arsenal’s efforts outside the box to create passing or crossing opportunities aimed at Giroud.
– Fails to demonstrate a willingness take up positions within the opposition’s penalty box to feed off Giroud’s creativity.
– His finishing skills appear controlled.

Oxlade-Chamberlain

Ox

– 1 goal and no assists in 11 wide forward starts.
– Finishing (1.1 shots per game)
– Passing (82.9%)
– Key passes (0.8 per game)
– Defensive contribution (1.1 tackles and 0.6 interceptions per game)
– Demonstrates a willingness to remain wide when necessary to contribute to Arsenal’s build up play.
– He appears to possess the skills to meaningfully contribute to Arsenal’s efforts outside the box to create passing or crossing opportunities aimed at Giroud.
– Fails to demonstrate a willingness take up positions within the opposition’s penalty box to feed off Giroud’s creativity.
– His finishing skills appear uncontrolled.

Iwobi

Iwobi

– 2 goals and 2 assists in 8 wide forward starts.
– Finishing (1.1 shots per game)
– Passing (84.5%)
– Key passes (0.9 per game)
– Defensive contribution (0.5 tackles and 0.3 interceptions per game)
– Fails to remain wide when necessary to contribute to Arsenal’s build up play.
– He appears to possess the skills to meaningfully contribute to Arsenal’s efforts outside the box to create passing or crossing opportunities aimed at Giroud.
– Demonstrates a willingness take up positions within the opposition’s penalty box to feed off Giroud’s creativity.
– His finishing skills appear controlled.

Welbeck

Welbeck

– 1 goal and no assists in 2 wide forward starts.
– Finishing (1.9 shots per game)
– Passing (77.4%)
– Key passes (0.6 per game)
– Defensive contribution (0.8 tackles and 0.2 interceptions per game)
– Willing to remain wide when necessary to contribute to Arsenal’s build up play.
– He possesses the necessary on the ball skills to contribute to Arsenal’s build up play outside the opposition’s penalty box.
– Demonstrates a willingness take up positions within the opposition’s penalty box to feed off Giroud’s creativity.
– His finishing skills appear controlled.

Ramsey

Ramsey

– 2 goals and no assists in 10 wide forward starts.
– Finishing (2.1 shots per game)
– Passing (86.1%)
– Key passes (1.1 per game)
– Defensive contribution (2.4 tackles and 1.6 interceptions per game)
– Willing to remain wide when necessary to contribute to Arsenal’s build up play.
– Appears to possess the skills to meaningfully contribute to Arsenal’s efforts outside the box to create passing or crossing opportunities aimed at Giroud.
– Demonstrates a willingness take up positions within the opposition’s penalty box to feed off Giroud’s creativity.
– His finishing skills appear uncontrolled.

Gnabry

Gnabry

– No senior appearances.
– Willing to remain wide when necessary to contribute to Arsenal’s build up play.
– Appears to possess the skills to meaningfully contribute to Arsenal’s efforts outside the box to create passing or crossing opportunities aimed at Giroud.
– Fails to demonstrate a willingness take up positions within the opposition’s penalty box to feed off Giroud’s creativity.
– His finishing skills appear controlled.

Aside from Sanchez, Welbeck appears to be the only other existing wide forward option within Arsenal’s current squad with the necessary ball skills and positional discipline to effectively fulfil the requirements of the wide forward role within Arsenal’s current attacking system. That said, repeated injuries have significantly impaired his ability to lay claim to the remaining wide forward role and those injuries seem to be showing no signs of abating.

Whilst Gnabry, Campbell and Iwobi may with experience develop the necessary positional discipline to enhance their effectiveness in Arsenal’s wide forward positions, I have doubts as to whether Ox, Walcott or Ramsey have the development potential to address their existing shortcomings in a wide forward capacity.

The above analysis highlights the need for Arsenal to recruit at least one elite player (in addition to Alexis) with the necessary ball skills and positional discipline to effectively fulfil the requirements of the other wide forward role within Arsenal’s current attacking set up. With that in mind I’ve identified some potential targets.

Higuain

Age: 28 years old
Current club: Napoli
2015/16 stats:
– 36 goals and 2 assists in 35 centre forward starts
– Finishing (4.9 shots per game)
– Passing (78.7%)
– Key passes (1.4 per game)
– Defensive contribution (0.5 tackles and 0.2 interceptions per game)
Lacks experience in a wide forward role.

lacazette

Lacazette

Age: 24 years old
Current club: Lyon
2015/16 stats:
– 21 goals and 3 assists in 34 centre forward starts
– Finishing (2.9 shots per game)
– Passing (78.2% per game)
– Key passes (1.4 per game)
– Defensive contribution (1 tackle and 0.3 interceptions per game)
Lacks experience in a wide forward role.

Griezmann

Griezmann

Age: 25
Current club: Atletico Madrid
2015/16 stats:
– 19 goals and 4 assists in 32 centre forward starts
– 4 goals and 2 assists in 11 wide forward starts
– Finishing (2.5 shots per game)
– Passing (79% per game)
– Key passes (1.5 per game)
– Defensive contribution (1.5 tackles and 1.3 interceptions per game)

Gotze

Age: 23 years old
Current club: Bayern Munich
2015/16 stats:
– 1 goal and 2 assists in 4 wide forward starts
– 2 goals and 2 assists in 4 central attacking midfield starts
– Finishing (1.3 shots per game)
– Passing (88% per game)
– Key passes (1.1 per game)
– Defensive contribution (1 tackle and 0.3 interceptions per game)
Lacks experience in a wide forward role

Klassen

Age: 23 years old
Current club: Ajax
2015/16 stats:
– 9 goals and 8 assists in 29 central midfield starts
– 3 goals and no assists in 4 central attacking midfield starts
– 1 goal and 1 assist and 2 centre forward starts
– Finishing (1.6 shots per game)
– Passing (78.7% per game)
– Key passes (1.9 per game
– Defensive contribution (1.6 tackles and 0.9 interceptions per game)
Lacks experience in a wide forward role.

Ayew

Age: 26
Current club: Swansea
2015/16 stats:
– 6 goals and 1 assists in 9 centre forward starts
– 5 goals and 1 assists in 15 wide forward starts
– Finishing (2 shots per game)
– Passing (81.7% per game)
– Key passes (0.7 per game)
– Defensive contribution (1.6 tackles and 0.7 interceptions per game)

mahrez

Mahrez

Age: 25
Current club: Leicester
2015/16 stats:
– 17 goals and 9 assists in 34 wide forward starts
– Finishing (2.3 shots per game)
– Passing (73.6% per game)
– Key passes (1.8 per game)
– Defensive contribution (1.4 tackles and 1 interception per game)

Of the above options Higuain, Lacazette and Griezmann are all proven goal scorers at an elite level.

That said Higuain and Lacazette have limited experience operating in a wide forward role and all three players, like Mahrez and Klassen, are used to playing in counter attacking systems as opposed to operating in a congested penalty box which Arsenal’s attackers regularly face. Despite Higuain and Lacazette’s excellent goal scoring credentials this raises some question marks regarding their suitability to Arsenal’s wide forward role. Furthermore, Higuain’s collective defensive contribution is less than all of Arsenal’s existing wide forward options which is cause for concern if Arsenal were to recruit him for the wide forward on the opposite flank to Alexis.

Gotze and Klassen on the other hand are more creative midfielders with exceptional passing skills and vision than prolific goal scorers. That said both players have proven over recent seasons, with Bayern Munich and Ajax respectively, that they can be solid contributors in the goal scoring department and have a habit of positioning themselves smartly inside the opposition’s penalty box and scoring from loose balls. As with Higuain and Lacazette both players have limited experience operating in a wide forward role, which again raises question marks regarding their suitability.

Unlike the other options analysed Ayew and Mahrez are tried and tested in a wide forward role in the Premier League. Like Gotze and Klassen, Ayew has a habit of taking up smart positions inside the opposition’s penalty box and scoring from loose balls. He is also used to having to operate in a congested penalty box which Arsenal’s attackers typically face. Mahrez on the other hand is used to playing in more counter attacking systems than Arsenal’s. Whilst neither are prolific goal scorer in contrast to the likes of Higuain, Lacazette and Greizmann, both Ayew and Mahrez have proven themselves to be solid contributors in that regard.

Personally I would like to see Arsenal pursue Griezmann. Arsenal need a prolific and elite goal scorer to feed off Giroud and Ozil’s creativity and support Alexis, as the team’s primary goal scorer, but on opposite flank. Griezmann’s credentials suggest he, unlike Klassen, Gotze, Ayew and Mahrez, can consistently provide this for Arsenal. His shots per game, passing and key passing stats along with observed performances indicate that he has the necessary ball skills and goal scoring output required from Arsenal’s wide forwards. Unlike Higuain and Lacazette, who are similarly prolific goal scorers, Griezmann also appears to be willing to exert the necessary defensive effort (1.5 tackles and 1.3 interceptions per game) required of a wide forward in Arsenal’s attacking setup. Whilst he lacks some experience in being deployed in a wide forward role, relative to Ayew and Mahrez, and is more used to playing in counter attacking systems as opposed to operating in a congested penalty box which Arsenal’s attackers regularly face, his skilful yet resourceful style of play indicates that he can adapt to the peculiar requirements of a wide forward in Arsenal’s current attacking system.

Irrespective of which option Arsenal pursue, the fact remains that the team needs more goals from their other wide forward if they are to genuinely challenge for the premier league title.

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dogbreath
dogbreath
4 years ago

Mkhitarian’s the one

Grant
Grant
4 years ago

In light of Wenger’s comments earlier in the season just finished comparing Sanchez and Jamie Vardy, I wouldn’t be shocked if he is our new goal scoring wide forward should his proposed transfer go through. That said I really like the looks of Mkhitaryan. Looking at his performances and stats (goals scored, assists and per game dribbles, passing accuracy, tackling and interceptions) this season, if he was to join I think he would make a very effective box to box goal scoring midfielder, who could challenge Ramsey. Whilst Ramsey beats Mkhitaryan in per game tackles, Mkhitaryan goal scoring output far… Read more »

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