Quagliarella & Matri: Why Arsenal Should Rescue One Of Them From Juve

The pair have suffered from a lack of action at Juve but both remain serious strikers who would flourish in the premier League...
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The pair have suffered from a lack of action at Juve but both remain serious strikers who would flourish in the premier League...

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Alessandro Matri and Fabio Quagliarella, both linked with Arsenal this week, have found themselves on the outside looking in for the most of the season which will culminate with Juventus regaining the Serie A title.

The twin strikers have been more than often orphans as Mirko Vucinic has been the daddy in attack, with Sebastian Giovinco offering  support. If there has been one area where coach Antonio Conte has failed to find consistency it is in attack.

Vucinic is top scorer on nine goals, Matri has eight while Giovinco and Quagliarella have weighed in with a paltry seven apiece.

Conte has been unable to find a pairing amongst his four strikers that has really gelled while Nicolas Bendter had failed to find his feet in Italian football even before suffering an knee injury which all but curtailed his season. Winter signing Nicolas Anelka has remained rooted on the substitutes’ bench for the majority of his stay in Turin and was never considered anything more than a needless luxury anyway.

Apart from Vucinic, there is obviously little or no belief in the front players and when Giovinco picked up an injury recently, Conte decided to make a tactical switch and play the Montenegrin as a lone striker, with Claudio Marchisio pushed forward from midfield to offer support.

The league leaders may gone on a six-game winning streak but in half of them they have only run out 1-0 winners as Matri and Quagliarella have watched on from the bench, with the former making only eight starts and the latter 11 throughout the campaign.

There has been a lot of speculation in the Italian press that Juventus will attempt to lure Zlatan Ibrahimovic back to the club for another tilt at the Champions League and even if that ends up wide of the mark it is almost certain that the strike force will be revamped in the close season.

Matri and Quagliarella had not started together for 14 months until they were paired in attack against Celtic in the Champions League last sixteen return leg at the beginning of March.

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They were only given their chance with the Old Lady holding a comfortable 3-0 advantage from the first leg in Glasgow but they demonstrated a good understanding and grabbed a goal apiece in the 2-0 victory.

In fact, Quagliarella ended the European campaign with four goals in five matches including both goals in the group matches against Chelsea.

However, the highlight for both players came in the Derby d’Italia against Inter at the end of March. This time, Juventus had a vital Champions League quarter-final first leg against Bayern Munich coming up so Matri and Quagliarella were handed a rare starting role which they turned into star performances.

Quagliarella scored a stunning goal from 25 yards which has become something of a specialty for the 30 year old down through his career which had taken him from the bay of Naples to Torino, Udinese, Sampdoria and then back to Naples.

It was Matri who created space with a neat dummy in the build-up but he was not to be overshadowed and added the second from close range after taking up a predatory position inside the area to meet Quagliarella’s cutback from the byline.

This was one of the rare moments where both players have felt that they belong in the famous black and white shirt. Quagliarella was offered to Parma as a makeweight for Ishak Belfodil in January but the 13million euro asking price put Juventus off and although the writing has been on the wall Quagliarella deserves better.

His international career has stalled as his club opportunities have become fewer and fewer but he has scored six goals in 27 appearances for the Azzurri, one of which was an absolute gem against Slovakia at the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa although he was left in tears as the defending champions crashed out at the group stages.

However, there is more to his game that just the headline-grabbing finishing; agile on the ball he can also lay it off neatly and although of medium build he has the body strength to hold off opponents and has scored a fair number of headers.

The more physical approach is the domain of the powerfully built Matri but once again first impressions can be deceiving and the 28 year old combines an excellent touch with a distinctive eye for goal as he proved earlier this season when scoring against Fiorentina after losing his boot.

Something of a late bloomer following a nomadic career since leaving the Milan youth set-up, Matri came to the fore at Cagliari where he scored in seven consecutive outings during the early part of 2009-10 campaign to equal the record set by the club’s legendary striker Gigi Riva back in the 70s.

Although he functions better in a two-man partnership he can lead the line much in the same vein of say Didier Drogba in his prime where his close control, strength and pace can take him into dangerous areas of the pitch.

In the early part of his career he was better known as someone who dated a string of stunning dancers from Italy’s satirical and much-loved TV show Striscia La Notizia but he has remained a serious professional and like Quagliarella has only become frustrated with his lack of playing time.

Now all the pair really need is the stage on which to perfect their double act and in doing so bring the best out of each other.