Kallstrom can be the best free-kick taker at Arsenal since...?

Van Persie Training

Arsenal are expected to confirm the signing of Swedish midfielder Kim Kallstrom on loan from Spartak Moscow until the end of the season before the 11pm transfer deadline tonight.

Whilst Gunners fans had been hopeful the North Londoners would agree a deal to bring Julian Draxler to the Emirates whom reports suggested this week was seen as the future successor of Robin van Persie, converted from a winger to a centre-forward by manager Arsene Wenger.

However, does the French boss have another trick up his sleeve? Arsenal have a number of creative and technically gifted players in their squad but they do not have a player as lethal as the departed Dutchman when it comes to free kicks which, incidentally, is Kallstom’s specialty.

Arsenal have scored just five of their 45 goals in the Premier League this season from set pieces (including corners) despite averaging 5.7 shots on target per game from open play and otherwise.

Arsenal players have been fouled at total of 237 times so far this term, averaging 10.3 free kicks awarded in the Gunners’ favour per game.

Last season, Robin van Persie’s debut season as a Manchester United player, the Red Devils scored more goals from set pieces than any other team, 22 goals in total yet Arsenal scored just 8 goals from set pieces in Van Persie’s last season at the Emirates in 2011/12.

Mikel Arteta, Santi Cazorla, Mesut Ozil, Lukas Podolski, Theo Walcott and Thomas Vermaelen are Arsenal’s designated dead-ball specialists, yet between them, they have not scored a single league goal from a free kick.

Kim Kallstrom scores more than half his goals from direct free kicks – wherever he has been, in France, in Russia and Sweden. Could Arsene Wenger’s deadline day signing prove to be deadly with a dead ball? It could prove to be a masterstroke by the boss this term if those extra goals equate to extra points.

Arsenal have been routinely fouled in the Premier League for well over a decade since the arrival of Arsene Wenger and the departure of players like Patrick Vieira, Martin Keown and Tony Adams.

We remember the horrific injuries suffered by Eduardo, Aaron Ramsey and Abou Diaby over the years but the Gunners seem to have become much more durable in the last 12 months or so. Perhaps Wenger’s new plan is to make teams think twice about fouling Arsenal for fear they’ll be giving their January signing a chance to pit his wits against their goalkeeper.

image: © wonker

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