Is Arsenal's Left Wing Solution Already at the Club?

Shaun Botterill

The first of a three-part series based on a discussion with TSF's Michael Keshani explores if our solution to Arsenal's left wing conundrum already resides within our club

I was checking my Twitter news feed a couple days ago when I stumbled across this tweet from our very-own Michael Keshani:

In an age of BUY ALL THE PLAYERS that we're still trying to get used to 'round these Arsenal parts, this got me thinking: is throwing money at a player in the market, just because we have spending power now, unnecessary if we actually have the right player within our squad now?  Are there areas within our squad that need more attention in the transfer market than a left winger?

I quickly contacted Kesh to see if I could pepper some questions towards him to get an expansion of reasoning behind his tweet, and he readily agreed.  What followed was a torrent of thought about our current internal options, Kesh's true feelings on Lukas Podolski, what type of center forward would work for Arsene Wenger and his footballing philosophy if we rely on our internal options, and what happens if Wenger indeed brings back a certain former Gunner.

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TK: To start, let's go back to your initial tweet.  I know you followed up this tweet with the need to have the right CF to alleviate our main source of goals coming from our wide players.  Explain this a little more.

MK: Well in our current system, Arsene Wenger likes a direct goalscorer on one wing and a more central-minded playmaker on the other. Ideally that's Theo and Santi respectively when both are fit. Without Theo Walcott we've lacked that runner behind opposition defences, but we've not been short on actual wing options. Lukas Podolski's uselessness 70% of the time means I'm pretty keen for him to be sold (and I imagine some in the club are too), but even if we sell him, we have Walcott and Jack Wilshere and right wing options, and Santi Cazorla, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Serge Gnabry and Tomas Rosicky as left (though all four are comfortable on the other side, Gnabry is probably most comfortable). So that's six options for four places, five if you discount Rosicky, but most of Wilshere's games will come from there. He, Gnabry and Chamberlain need games, and they all have super quality potential, so why get in the way of that?

The answer to that would be because they're not offering what we need right now, and with the money we have, there's no need for us to wait. But if we sign a striker with more capability to play off the shoulder of the last defender, then you're not relying on your wide players to either stretch teams or be your main source of goals - they can become more devoted to supply for that striker and Ramsey.

The right CF for that is difficult - going for a straight up poacher like Mario Gómez or Jackson Martínez means you lose a significant amount from your play, and also limits us to only using said poacher in that kind of setup. You need someone who can do the 'donkey work' that Giroud does while being able to run, and there really aren't many of those around. The three that are potentially available to us this summer that come to mind are Mario Mandžukić, Karim Benzema and Edinson Cavani, listed in order of ability and likelihood of coming to us. But there's a good chance we get none of those, so still end up needing a guy to stretch teams and get goals from wide.

If someone like Alexis Sánchez is available for us - a winger with the super quality (capable infield too) and a great fit for us, then regardless of the CF we get (or don't), you go for him. I could really see us going for a Carlos Vela/Antoine Griezmann in case we don't get a CF, and even if we do he can combine well with them. In terms of the attacking positions, the right CF is the most important of all, and if we get that, we're in a great position to move forward, and a goalscoring winger of anywhere from decent-to-super quality is less of the essence this year. But I still wouldn't mind one at all.

In part two, Kesh goes a bit more in-depth on how a Carlos Vela reunion at Arsenal would look, and if Wenger moves for his Real Sociedad teammate, how would that affect the internal options, their playing time, and where they'd best fit on the pitch with the rumored new additions.

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