With Adebayor now gone, we go into a new season with a brand new structure up front, and it isn’t clear as yet how our strikers are likely to be deployed. Are we reverting to a flat 4-4-2? Do we have a spearhead with someone playing the Bergkamp role behind them? Are we heading towards the Barcelona model of three interchangeable forwards, two coming in from wide positions?
One thing is for certain, we have plenty of players favouring the support striker role. Arshavin seems to be the leading contender, but Rosicky, Nasri, Van Persie and Eduardo all fit the role, and even Cesc and Diaby have been known to play there.
What is less certain is who is ahead of those players on the field, i.e. who plays the out and out striker role they support? All of these setups lend themselves to a spearhead, a role that could naturally have fallen to Adebayor, had he not chased his financial dream over his footballistic one (to coin a word from Wenger).
Van Persie is being mentioned as a player to replace him in that position, and while he is one option, I think this is a massive opportunity for Bendtner to step in and prove the (many) critics wrong. The much maligned Dane has had a tough couple of years in some ways, vilified by certain areas of the media despite a very impressive scoring record for man whose appearances were largely limited to substitute cameos. And many of those goals were vital.
When Henry left, no-one really gave Ade a hope of stepping in and scoring hatfuls, certainly not the thirty he managed. We cannot and should not ask that of Bendtner this season, because realistically we should be deploying a very flexible front line, and could conceivably have three or four players reaching the fifteen goal mark, rather than relying on one to get them all.
But he has a chance to become our spearhead, and if he continues the improvements he showed in the second half of last season, he could become another of Wenger’s ‘I told you so’ stars of the season.
One player who will miss the start of the season is Nasri, who broke his leg during the current training camp. Wenger believes he could be healed in six weeks, and while our club’s estimates and reality are often miles apart, he should not miss too much football. We will miss him, but we have plenty of cover.
The only thing I do worry about is whether this will increase Rosicky’s workload at a time where a muscular injury is almost an inevitability. After coming back from such a long term absence, little niggles are commonplace, and we must not be disheartened when we hear the Czech star is out for a couple of weeks. It will happen. What worries me is that too much might be asked of him too soon now that Nasri is missing. We’ll see.
One thing that strikes me as hilarious is that everyone is assuming that we are still the most threatened of the top four. Which is strange, given that we’re the only one of the top four actually adding to our squad at the moment.
Only a few weeks to go.