The 28-year-old only arrived at Stamford Bridge in January after speculation that the Gunners were also interested in acquiring him from former club Newcastle. Ba had been Newcastle’s top scorer prior to his long-protracted transfer to the Blues – he scored 13 goals in 20 league appearances for the Magpies but failed to replicate that form for Chelsea, managing just 2 goals in 14 appearances in the Premier League.
Ba was recording a goal for Newcastle every 170 minutes in 2011/12, finishing the season with 16 goals – many of them breath taking finishes – but his growth as a top class striker seemed to have been stunted in South West London.
At 6ft2” Ba is a real handful in the box – not only from aerial chances but also in his ability to shake off defenders, power through into dangerous positions and get in front of his markers. He is more than just a target-man, of course, his finishing when he’s riding high on confidence, is both efficient and intelligent.
There are still concerns over his fitness – relating to a previous knee injury – but he his progress has not been greatly hampered by that during his time with the Blues. The issue that will most test his ability to revive his form, should be make the switch across the English capital, is whether he would be able to consistently challenge Olivier Giroud for his place up front.
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger generally deploys just one centre-forward in his 4-3-3 or 4-5-1 system and the French striker has been in fine form, scoring 4 goals already this term and looks to have benefitted from a good pre-season with the Gunners.
Wenger has also brought in 20-year-old French striker Yaya Sanogo who made his debut as a substitute against Fenerbahce last week but still clearly needs time to settle into Arsenal’s system. The potential arrival of Ba, either on loan or in a permanent switch, would give Giroud some genuine competition up front, especially given Lukas Podolski’s injury which will keep him out of contention for at least 10 weeks.
Arsenal are also linked with 23-year-old Palermo striker Abel Hernandez but Ba would represent a more seasoned and experienced addition to the Uruguayan prospect.
Arsenal’s style and system under Wenger has adapted to the player’s the boss has at his disposal in recent years – the former tikka-takka and reliant on a deep-lying forward like Robin van Persie has been altered to accommodate Giroud and cater to his qualities. Arsenal still rely on domination of possession and a strong technical level in their midfield and forward players but they have become more adept at throwing crosses and long-balls into the box for Giroud to chase in the last year or so.
Demba Ba’s power and physical supremacy could also bolster Arsenal’s ability to out-muscle teams which, again, has not been a feature generally associated with the Gunners in recent years.
With the addition of Mathieu Flamini too, Arsenal could have a squad that is far more capable of withstanding the rough-and-tumble of the Premier League this term – it’s hard to imagine a player like Demba Ba, Giroud, or Flamini being muscled off the ball and much the same goes for 6ft3” Sanogo.
image: © stephyhan