Alan Smith remarked on Yaya Sanogo's debut against Liverpool, in which he performed well against 'two accomplished centre backs'.
When Yaya Sanogo, 21, was first acquired by Arsenal last summer, he was accompanied by little fanfare. His signing, so seemingly underwhelming or so insignificant in the mindset of the club's fanbase, that his reception was a stark contrast to the marque rapture caused by Mesut Ozil's arrival a couple of months later.
At the time, Arsene Wenger summarised the differences between Sanogo and Ozil as not a matter of talent, but price-tag, similar to how Mathieu Flamini arrived on a free transfer but lacked the ticker-tape parade that the media wanted to bust out when Ozil's capture was confirmed on deadline day last summer.
While Ozil has since hit inconsistent form, Flamini's absence after a recent four-game suspension was notable and his inclusion is now considered fundamental should the Gunners hope for any tournament success this season.
Perhaps Sanogo, too, could be a part, however unlikely that may once have been then (he has been continually sidelined with a back injury) and in January (when fans and the press were calling on Wenger to sign a player of the calibre of Diego Costa, or even Julian Draxler).
Back then, Wenger said, as quoted by The Mirror: 'We have signed Sanogo [to no] headlines. Why? Because he is not £50-100m. But I am quite confident he will make the [headlines] on the pitch. Sanogo will surprise you but will not surprise me - he is top class.'
Well, Sanogo played a huge part in the opening goal against Liverpool, he showed great strength, physicality and could well be a good deputy for Olivier Giroud in the coming months. Even Wenger said he was 'excellent' considering he was a debutant.
While former striker Alan Smith, writing in The Telegraph, stated: 'The gamble paid off, too. Most importantly for Wenger, Liverpool left London with nothing to show for their efforts. And pleasingly for the striker, Sanogo did not let anyone down after battling gamely against two accomplished centre-halves to play his part in a morale-boosting win.
'Quite an achievement for a lad who hadn’t previously got anywhere near the first eleven, partly due to injury, the bane of his career so far, and partly because he just wasn’t ready.'
For Wenger, it may well never have been a gamble.