Robin van Persie’s return to the Emirates will be the hot topic of the fixture, no doubt but Arsenal have more pressing concerns than their former striker - manager Arsene Wenger doesn’t have an out-an-out centre-forward available.
Olivier Giroud’s dismissal against Fulham last weekend (and the subsequent failed appeal of that ban) throws up a dilemma for Wenger. Who should he play up front?
Whilst Giroud has had a good debut Premier League season, scoring 17 goals and making 12 assists in all competitions for the Gunners, he is not their top goalscorer.
Theo Walcott has had his best season to date and, up until he signed his new contract coincidently, he had been enjoying his best form since his arrival at the Emirates in 2006.
However, Walcott had his stint playing through the middle – the boss had his arm twisted amidst the backdrop of his contract saga and the approaching January transfer window – and, whilst Walcott wasn’t awful, he didn’t convince either.
Even Gervinho somehow managed to convince the boss a) he’s a footballer and b) he’s potentially a striker but, alas, that experiment also proved to be fairly unfruitful as the Ivorian doesn’t possess the finishing technique or confidence to spearhead the Gunners attack on his own.
Arsenal have only one other option: Lukas Podolski. The German international has been biding his time, waiting in the wings (and incidentally on the wing) for his opportunity to play through the middle.
He is undoubtedly the Gunners’ most adept finisher as evidence by his 44 goals for his country. That is more goals than Wayne Rooney has scored for England and more than Van Persie has for the Netherlands.
Lukas Podolski must play as a striker on Sunday – he is the only option, in my humble opinion but, fear not Arsenal fans, I firmly believe he is, despite his lack of appearances, the very best option.
I have asserted many times this season my unequivocal belief that Lukas Podolski is Arsenal’s best finisher and best option up front – even when Giroud is fit and available. Why he hasn’t been given his chance there yet is beyond me but I suppose Arsene Wenger has his reasons.
Now, however, up against Manchester United without Olivier Giroud, Wenger has every reason to put his faith in Podolski.
image: © sdhansay