By Richard Clarke

Arsène Wenger has been in an unusual position during this transfer window.

Although he admits his side lack a striker, they are not in need of goals.

Consistency has been the key. While Chelsea may have smashed seven past Sunderland at the weekend and Spurs thumped nine against Wigan late last year, the Emirates Stadium side have been top of the scoring charts ever since they hit Everton for six on the opening day of the campaign.

Only Sunderland and Chelsea can truly claim to have shut-out a full-strength Arsenal this season. In the Premier League, Wenger’s men have 55 goals in 21 games via 16 different scorers.

You can attribute well over half to central midfield (Cesc Fabregas 10, Abou Diaby 5, Aaron Ramsey 3, Denilson 3, Alex Song 1) and the centre backs (Thomas Vermaelen 4, William Gallas 3).

Of course, this could be explained way with injuries – Robin van Persie, Nicklas Bendtner and, to a lesser extent, Eduardo have all spent significant time on the treatment table. However Wenger feels there could be something more going on. The Frenchman suggests the relationship between the forward line and particularly the midfield may have changed in recent years.

It is no wonder that UEFA’s technical report into last season’s Champions League had chapter called ‘The Disappearing Striker’. It seems the days are gone when a No 9 and No 10 speadheaded a static 4-4-2 and scored 50 per cent of their team’s goals.

“It is a possible idea,” admitted Wenger. “But it depends on the personality and the quality of your midfielders. If you have many players who can score that is OK but overall I still believe that strikers are very, very important.

“Still we used to say the midfielders are the guys who bring the strikers alive but what is happening now is the strikers are the guys who can bring your midfielders alive. They come to score from deeper positions and you can really do that with one-man up front."

Wenger admits that, to him, a striker’s assists tally is now as important as his goals ratio. 

“It is basically the efficiency of the team and the number of goals the team scores [that is important],” he said. “I believe if the whole side scores goals then, for me, the striker is good.

“[For example] Robin van Persie, when he played we always scored three or four goals. He didn’t score too many [himself] but he made a lot. Not only with passing, but with movement and the quality of that movement. Strikers open walls for the deeper players. That is a big part in the modern game.”

Copyright 2017 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to as the source
20 Jan 2010