Before the Southampton game, Arsene Wenger came out with quotes which he has since be mildly derided for:
“I think we can win the title without signing a striker”
He went on to explain his thinking, that deals for top players in January were hard to complete (true) and that the imminent return Lukas Podolski made “it less critical to sign a striker.” A discussion with myself and friend of the site, AFC_Glen pursued, and it got me thinking. And as I began thinking, I thought some more.
Where I ended up was an interesting place. My thoughts about the striker went down 2 tangents. The first thought was ‘What top strikers are out there who are better then Oliver Giroud & gettable in January’ and the second was ‘If we are looking for someone to be back up for Giroud, is there anyone out there better then Podolski?’
For me, the strikers we are chasing fall in to 2 categories. In box 1, we have top draw, marque, better then Giroud, 1st choice strikers. these are the likes of Wayne Rooney, Luiz Suarez, Robert Lewandowski and Karim Benzema. In the 2nd box, we have players who can play 2nd fiddle, back up, or at most challenge, Olivier Giroud. The likes of Alexandre Pato, Edin Dzeko, Mario Balotelli and Javier Hernandez.
A striker is defined by the goals he scores. So for a simple comparison, I worked out their career stats, games per goal, for all club competitions:
Now this simple task highlights what I wan mentioning earlier, about the 2 boxes. To the right of Giroud, you have 4 strikers who are better then him and have the statistics to prove it. to the left, you have the strikers who are either not as good, or at best would challenge him for a 1st team place. The only anomaly is Edin Dzeko, this can be explained by a prolific spell in Germany, where he averaged 1.67 games a goal. In England, he averages 2.56 games a goal, the exact same as Giroud.
The point I am making (hopefully) is that we have 2 choices. Firstly is to buy someone better then Giroud. Rooney, Benzema, Suarez or Lewandowski. Now whether these players are available, and in January, is another debate. They are clearly better, both in ability and statistics, then Giroud.
If we are looking at the 2nd option, a player to compete and provide competition for Giroud, the question then arises, do we actually need anyone, or is Podolski able to do that job?
Podolski averages 2.58 games per goal. Mario Balotelli the exact same amount. Is it worth going and spending £20million+ on Mario Balotelli to get someone who, statistically, is no better then Lukas Podolski. Moving down the list Pato averages 2.51 and Hernandez 2.46. Again, is it worth spending £10-15million on these in January, are they any better then Lukas Podolski?
Personally, I think if we can not get one of the top 4 whom I mentioned (Rooney, Suarez, Benzema, Lewandowski) then we are better ‘keeping our powder dry’ and waiting until the summer when they may well be more available.
The strikers in the 2nd box are no better then Podolski, a man, remember, who has 46 goals in 110 caps for Germany. That would make him England’s 3rd all time top scorer, had his parents decided to emigrate to the UK rather then Germany when he was 2.
So back to Wenger’s quote, that it is “less critical to sign a striker” now that Podolski is back. I feel this is the truth and, unless a top draw striker is available in January, we can win the league with Giroud, Podolski, Walcott, Bendtner & Sanogo as our striking options.