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Arsenal: Wenger's bluffing about new striker

Exactly who was Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger winding up when he said yesterday: 'We can win the league without buying another striker. I am not against buying in January, but it is always difficult in the middle of the season' ?

Arsenal fans may fear that the manager is once again in Wenger-land, genuinely believing that the imminent return of Theo Walcott and Lukas Podolski means that the club have no need to go in for another top striker in the forthcoming transfer window.

Arsenal, of course, have on-fire Olivier Giroud as their main (and only) fit striker at the minute (2 goals again today, making it 10 in total for the season). Then there's Nicklas Bendtner, which is clearly why most Arsenal fans believe another striker signing is essential.

First, let's look at the facts: Podolski has netted 13 goals in 35 Premier League appearances to date (a goal every 2.7 games), while Walcott has scored 40 in 186 appearances (a goal every 4.65 games). Now although Walcott has stepped up his goal rate in the last 12 months, neither he nor Podolski can be relied on to bag 20 Leagues goals plus a season (Walcott's best is 14 last season, while Podolski managed 20 plus just once - 24 one season in the Bundesliga 9 years ago).

So Wenger gets the fact that he needs to strengthen his squad by adding a recognised striker in January - he just doesn't want to be going around shouting about it from the roof-tops - as immediately the price will go up for all his targets.

Paying £43m for Ozil on the last day of the last transfer window (good as he is) will have taught Wenger something - don't leave it too late and don't appear to be too desperate, otherwise it gets expensive. Expect Wenger, then, to move early for a new striker in January, and indeed to have completed all transfer activity within the first days of the next window. In the meantime, he'll continue to deny that it's urgent for Arsenal to sign another striker.

image: © Ronnie Macdonald

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