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Whither Marouane Chamakh?


As Arsenal finish out their season, many supporters have unleashed frustration with "a lack of a plan B" when the Gunners' intricate passing doesn't pan out at the edges of the penalty area and Arsène Wenger introduces Nicklas Bendtner, only to stow him away safely on the right touchline.  Many have also expressed exasperation with the more recent development of lobbing in high crosses for the not-so-great header of the ball Robin van Persie, in some cases ALL of which get sent back by the opposition defense.  At times, it has appeared that Arsenal have only two modes of attack; build-up play through the middle and crosses from the wings, neither of which has proven terribly effective over the past month and a half.  However, there is one player at the club who, at the start of the season, proved quite adept at both aerial hold-up play and intelligent running off the ball to free up space for the build-up, and his name is Marouane Chamakh.

After a solid start to the year, scoring 10 goals through November in all competitions, Chamakh started to wear down a bit.  It is a truism that there is an adjustment period for players new to the English Premier League, but in this case, the Moroccan did admit to being a bit tired out after his first few months outside of France.  The return of Robin van Persie around the holidays and his subsequent tearing apart of all comers cemented him firmly in Arsenal's starting XI, and a few good matches from Bendtner and a few tired appearances from Chamakh more or less brings things up to where they stand now.

That being said, Chamakh's lack of form in his appearances over the past month is probably more due to lack of playing time than exhaustion.  If fully fit and in form, he offers perhaps more than Bendtner does--he's good in the air but also intelligent in his running, his holdup play is good, and he has any number of un-measurable things that analysts like to talk about--"experience", "nous", whatever.  As a sub for van Persie, or a sub to bring on alongside the Dutch striker in a late-match change of formation, Chamakh can do a number of different things, not least of which is pulling defenders out of position for van Persie, Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri, et al. 

While it is too late for Chamakh to make much of an impact in the next four matches, given his form, do you think that he can be an effective second banana or strike partner for van Persie next year?  Could he operate with Bendtner in some way?