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Forward Options To Push Arsenal Towards Next Title

 • by Andrew Gibney
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You can patch up a defence, you can build a midfield, but as Jose Mourinho admitted after Manchester United’s UEFA Europa League draw with Anderlecht on Thursday, without scoring goals, your work is futile. For Arsenal, their attack has the quality to be one of Europe’s best, but it can also be toothless and weak.

Regardless of where Alexis Sanchez calls home next season, the Gunners front-line needs work and perhaps a complete overhaul if they really want to fire themselves up towards the top end of the table.

Olivier Giroud is a capable deputy, Theo Walcott is having a great season in terms of numbers, but outside of that there are quite a few members of the squad who are just not up to the task.

Although they sit sixth in the Premier League, with 61 goals they have the fourth best scoring record in the country, but fourth still isn’t good enough.

Previously, we’ve picked out defensive and midfield options that would help build a new era at Arsenal, now we move to the business end.

Two areas need attention, the support striker and the proper goal-poaching centre-forward that leaves defenders quaking in their boots. Even if the Chilean stays, he needs help, support and more talented options up front.

Supporting Arsenal’s Strikers

Alexis Sanchez during defeat to Chelsea

Now, the Premier League has adapted a style of forwards that can cut in from the wings, move from outside to in and become false 9s, number 10s, general danger-men around the box. Alex Iwobi has often failed at that job for the Gunners and it’s an area that could be massively improved.

Philippe Coutinho’s or Eden Hazard’s don’t grow on trees, but there are players out there that could do that job.

Arsenal Support Striker Options

Arda Turan has been touted as a possible summer target, with the Turkish forward’s €25million release clause tempting the North London club. Yet, the former Atleti man is 30 years old, has just three goals and three assists in 1154 minutes for Barcelona. He’s one to avoid.

Real Madrid’s Isco, if you can convince him to leave Spain would be an interesting pick up, but Arsenal would have competition from Chelsea and Manchester City, giving them the edge.

Former Chelsea player, Mohamed Salah, is having a super season for AS Roma, picking up 11 goals and nine assists in Serie A, yet as he is just 24 years old and has already failed to make an impact in England, it would be too risky.

Samuel Castillejo -Villarreal

Samu Castillejo of Villarreal in action with Leighton Baines of Everton

Someone who would be an excellent outside bet is Villarreal winger Samuel Castillejo. Also linked with Manchester City, the 22-year-old moved from Malaga in 2015 and this season has contributed two goals and four assists for the Yellow Submarine.

Able to play on both flanks and use both feet, he has great ability at delivering superb crosses into the box. He’s displayed superb vision and can cut inside and play through the middle.

A hard-worker, Diego Simeone is known to be a huge fan of the youngster, that sort of attitude that El Cholo loves, would be the perfect fit at the Emirates, something they desperately miss.

Lorenzo Insigne – Napoli

Lorenzo Insigne Napoli

One of the most realistic and enticing options in this position would be Napoli’s little Italian, Lorenzo Insigne. Still just 25 years old, he’s been involved in 21 goals for Maurizio Sarri’s team this season.

Playing Alexis through the centre requires movement and intelligence from the players around him and that is something that Napoli have built their success on this season.

The transition of, Manchester United summer target, Dries Mertens from winger to centre-forward has helped the club, but that understanding with Insigne has given them more dynamism in the final third.

Although he is right-footed, he has scored some stunning hits with his left and can shoot or pick a pass with his ‘weaker’ foot.

That stunning instinct to cut inside and cause damage, much like Hazard, can’t be taught and Insigne does it beautifully and naturally.

Similarly to the Chelsea star, he’s got the pace and trickery with the ball to dazzle and destroy and then the opportunistic streak, as shown by his wonderful goal against Real Madrid to score from distance.

Contracted until 2019, a new deal with Napoli has stalled, alerting attention from teams across Europe. He is wanting around €4million a season in wages, but that shouldn’t be a problem for the Gunners.

One problem that Arsenal have struggled with at times is breaking down stubborn defences. To do that, you need players that will come deep and then make dangerous runs beyond the strikers. Insigne would be the perfect fit at the Emirates next season.

Best Option: Lorenzo Insigne – Could become Arsenal’s Hazard and make them much more fluid and dangerous all over the attack

A New Main Man for Arsenal

Olivier Giroud offers Arsenal an aerial threat.

If he stays, Arsenal could use a new striker beside Alexis Sanchez and if he goes, they desperately need to replace his 18 league goals and nine assists.

Karim Benzema, a long-term target for the London club, could be available. With Cristiano Ronaldo’s transition into the central areas, there is no real need for Alvaro Morata and the Frenchman, so one, if not both could leave.

Players who could replace Alexis Sanchez at Arsenal

At 29 years old, contracted till 2019 and just nine goals in 24 games for Real, it might be a case of too little, too late for the former Olympique Lyonnais man to arrive at Arsenal.

The £40million price tag on the head of Celtic’s Moussa Dembélé should be too much to tempt Arsenal into a move. Not to mention that the 20-year-old, despite his 17 goals in Scotland, is too young to be thrust into the starting spot of a championship chasing attack. At his young age, he needs guidance and protection.

Antoine Griezmann isn’t going to pick Arsenal over staying at Atletico Madrid or moving to Manchester United. No fan at the Emirates would ever believe their club could spend £86million on one player.

21-year-old Patrik Schick has a very interesting profile, scoring eight goals for Sampdoria this term. The Czech Republic international has been picked out by Juventus as a future signing, but even they are reportedly willing to send him back to Genoa on loan until 2018. They know he is not quite ready yet, that wouldn’t change at Arsenal.

Andre Silva – FC Porto

Read More: Meet André Silva – Porto’s Next Wonderkid

Although the same age as Schick, Portuguese striker, Andre Silva looks the real deal. He has 15 goals in 27 games in Liga NOS this term and had found the net five times in six game for his country. That has led to comparisons with former PSG striker and international legend, Pauleta.

He’s not the same type of player as the former Bordeaux forward, but he has that same level of intelligence and that almost natural movement that gets him in the positions to score goals. Silva isn’t a powerful, strong runner, he beats the bigger centre-backs with intelligence.

What he does have is a quick burst of pace and knows when to slip behind defenders, or move to the near post. His development from a central midfielder, to winger, to a centre-forward has made him able to play all across the attack.

Playing down the wing, he is agile and has the technique to drift inside past full-backs and quick enough to glide past bigger centre-halves. He also has a good eye for a pass. At this stage, he doesn’t quite have the technique to deliver every time, but you can see the thought process and what he is trying to do and his six assists in 27 league games.

Again, it might be a big task to throw him into the starting spot, but he is closer to being ready than the others.

Alexandre Lacazette – Lyon

Signing Alexandre Lacazette would be a dream come true for many Gunners fans this summer. Almost since he took the mantle Benzema at OL, he’s been linked with moves to Arsenal.

This summer looks set to be the time when he finally does leave France, but it will take a bid upwards of €60million to convince President Jean-Michel Aulas to do business.

A lack of Champions League football will also be a huge factor, but that could be the reason that Arsenal are willing to bid so high.

When Bruno Genesio took over Lyon in January 2016, the coach reverted from the front two that had seemed to get the best out of Lacazette, back to 4-3-3 and it has only made him a better player.

He had to learn to play as a target-man, not in a sense of winning high balls up field, but playing with his back to goal, linking up with the wingers, combining with little short passes and making runs and picking out runs in behind.

It added an all-round dimension to his game and has ultimately made his even more dangerous.

In the 4-4-2 diamond, his preferred move was to drift wide, hang between the lines and burst onto his right-foot to finish. That’s still there, something that players like Hazard and Leroy Sané have successfully done in England this season, and that gift of being able to play all across the attack is what should be enough for Arsenal to make him their No.1 target.

Best Option: At 25 years old, he is everything the Gunners need in a forward.

Possible Arsenal XI for next season.

No matter who is in charge at the Emirates next season, they need top quality reinforcements. Whether that is tried and tested players like Lacazette and Insigne, or youthful options like Silva and Castillejo, they are moves worth making and include them with some of the other players we have suggested and Arsenal could once again be a contender for the Premier League title.

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