If rumours are to believed, in the summer of 2011, Cesc Fabregas spoke with Robin van Persie to tell him he was off to Barcelona. Van Persie allegedly said to Cesc that he was staying for one more year, and if there weren't any trophies won by Arsenal at the finish, he too would leave. And, again, if rumours are to be believed, Van Persie's advisors and agents put the feelers out to Manchester United, Manchester City and abroad to say he was considering a move from The Gunners.
By January 2012, van Persie appears to have made up his mind. He's off. Does Arsene Wenger at this stage know this? By May, Lukas Podolski has signed from Koln for £10m. By July, Oliver Giroud has signed from Montpellier for £12m. Neither are acclaimed as van Persie's replacements. In fact he hasn't gone yet. Wenger publically states he'll stay and see out his contract.
The team already had a 'striker crisis' at the start of pre-season; as Marouane Chamakh and Chu-Young Park had misfired throughout 2011/12 and many Gooners hoped van Persie would be replaced - should he go - by a worldclass striker. After all, he was surely off. Everyone knew or thought they did. Giroud and Podolski were in, so who'll come in to compliment them? To ease them in. After all, although they have pedigree, neither had played in the EPL before. Giroud had barely played outside of France. No one else arrived up front. Santi Cazorla came in to bolster the midfield. That was it. And here in may lay the problem, the angst...
Should Podolski be left blameless for an abject performance against a rival in a derby?
Fast forward and Chelsea have beaten an impotent looking Arsenal 1-2 at home. Not a crisis, just Arsenal's first loss in this embryonic season. But Giroud is looking nervous. Snatching at chances and according to fans at The Emirates, getting barracked already, despite a great goal in mid-week. Podolski has a very quiet game. But he has scored 3 vital goals so far this season and has fitted in well. Giroud, to quote Iain Macintosh, is "starting to look like Crouch at Liverpool." Moves well but doesn't finish with a decent attempt.
The worry for some Gooners; will it be too late when January's transfer window opens to buy a striker? Will Arsenal be out of the running for trophies by then? Especially if Giroud doesn't start firing more than blanks soon? Is it too early to dismiss Giroud? And should Podolski be left blameless for an abject performance against a rival in a derby?
And who's out there to supplement Arsenal's attack who is eligible for European competition? Athletic Bilbao's Fernando Llorente has been heavily linked since June...but is he Turin-bound? We know Arsenal are cash rich after their financial announcements this week...but clinical strikers are hard to come by and cost a fortune. Luuk De Jong has recently moved to Monchengladbach, Edison Cavani, Falcao and Neymar are far too expensive for Arsene Wenger, so who's out there? AGF's Icelandic star Aron Johannsson has been linked after a series of impressive displays recently - but would yet another 'hot prospect' placate uneasy, trophy-less Gooners?
Too early to boo Giroud? Should Podolski be pulling his weight against the big teams?
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