FTK Blog: Which striking partnership should we play?

It used to be said of London buses that you wait ages for one, then four arrive all at once. Well that will soon be the position with regard to strikers at Arsenal. Robin van Persie is close to a return, and with Theo’s rich vein of form and Niklas Bendtner striking the ball with greater confidence, Arsene Wenger has an excellent dilemma which is, which is the best striking partnership?
The 4-3-3 formation employs a spearhead striker who will hold up the ball or act as a fulcrum for supporting runs from midfield. Marouane Chamakh has shown that he deserves to have the number one berth, yet given the high wages and profile of our dutch striker, I fear that he will become surplus to requirements when Robin returns. Yet my view is that Arsene Wenger would be ill advised to drop Marouane from the starting lineup. He has to find a way of combining Marouane with another striker if we are to win more than the Carling Cup this season.
I wrote a couple of blogs praising the potential of Chamakh before he came to Arsenal, and I am pleased that the player has not let down my expectations. He is a tireless worker for the team, he holds up the ball well, and most importantly, his runs are well timed and he rarely strays offside. His aerial ability has given Arsenal that much needed “plan B” and if we remove that option, we may find teams feeling more comfortable about parking the bus down the middle of the field where most of Arsenal’s forays occur.
So why can’t RvP and Chamkh play in the same formation? The sticking point I believe relates to Arsene Wenger’s obsession with Arshavin. Andre Arshavin has fallen from grace in my view with inconsistent performances. To put it bluntly he has become too lazy. Many of the problems with Clichy, relate to the fact that Arshavin does not defend. Watch the games of Arsenal, if Arshavin loses the ball, he refuses to run after the player to try and regain possession. He often appears exhausted after two or three runs and upon one occasion, when a substitution was being made he seemed very keen to leave the field, even though it wasn’t his number on the 4th official’s board.
Yet Arshavin’s assists and passes confirm that he is still a class act and if only he would revert back to the form in his first season, he could become a match winner. Yet I feel that a spell on the sidelines might just wake him up. The prospect of a big money transfer to Barcelona becomes less likely with each passing transfer window, so perhaps Andre needs to accept that his career will remain at the Emirates and it is here that he must make his reputation. He can become an Arsenal legend if he wants it badly enough and perhaps the new competition for a starting place as striker will be the wake up call that he needs.
Moving on to discussing the resurgence of our other strikers, Theo Walcott is finally silencing his many critics of whose number I can proudly proclaim did not include me. I have always been an immense fan of Theo and I am so pleased for the lad. The omission from this year’s World Cup was a blessing in disguise. He has rediscovered his hunger and his lack of “end product” has been exposed as a cruel immature jibe. He can now make the step up and it is mainly down to confidence, listening to his interviews, he is ready for the challenge. His pace remains awesome and he deserves a starting place in the team, but at the expense of who?
Niklas Bendtner has overcome the earlier charge that I laid at his door (making Adebayor look good). His work rate for the team put Arshavin’s to shame. His conversion of chances has suddenly improved. The goal that he struck against Newcastle last night was sublime. But before we get carried away, I still need more convincing that he will become the “world class” striker that Arsene Wenger claims he will be. If he continues to strike goals and can improve his aerial ability to equal Chamakh’s then the competition for a starting place will become very intense. I like his attitude now that he has recovered from injury, and hopefully he will prove me wrong and destroy defences in the Premier League.
Carlos Vela remains for me the best finisher at Arsenal, he seems to have not yet made the headlines that are currently being made by Theo Walcott, but I rate Carlos Vela very highly, and it is a challenge for Arsene Wenger to bring the best out of him. Oh Vela Vela, our Mexican superstar!!! I hope that we can get to the Carling Cup Final where he will show his class.
So in conclusion, Arsenal  Football Club appear to be enjoying a return of strikers who have between them different qualities and skill sets. I do not believe that we have a preferred duo for all competitions and whilst the confidence levels are high, this is where rotation needs careful planning. I would prefer Robin van Persie to play in the hole behind an aerial specialist such as Chamkh ala Dennis Bergkamp, because when he plays as lone striker, van Persie  always seems to play deeper into midfield leaving the opponents back four with plenty of room to shut down our counter attacks.
I would prefer Walcott over Arshavin for a period of time until the mercurial Russian rediscovers his hunger for things football rather than ice cream. That would make our Premier league midfield and attack as Fabregas Song Nasri, Walcott van Persie Chamakh. With injuries and suspensions and fixture congestion in the new year, the other striking partnerships could be Arshavin and van Persie, Walcott and van Persie, Bendtner and Walcott, Walcott and Chamakh and of course Arshavin and Chamakh as currently used by Arsene Wenger.

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