The coming of Huntelaar - Changes to the Arsenal setup?
I’m not one to believe every transfer rumor that this season stirs up. There is one though that I desperately want to materialize – the transfer of Klaas-Jan Huntelaar to Arsenal. Huntelaar is best described as an out and out striker who scores for sheer fun. The ex-Ajax, Real Madrid, Milan and current Schalke man is only kept out of the team sheet for the Oranje by Arsenal ex -legend Robin Van Persie.
I have long held him in high regard as someone who can score from anywhere, any angle, any distance and any way he wants. This talent has been aptly put to use by Schalke for whom the striker has netted an impressive 71 goals in two seasons worth of football for the German club. Not exactly a target man that does not stop ‘the hunter’ from scoring freely with his head too. L’Equipe has claimed a 4 million deal. It would not be beyond Wenger to pull such a thing off but the same French paper has previously claimed the M’Vila deal to be 99 % confirmed. We all know how that turned out. So I am not raising my hopes too high.
The purpose of this article is purely to see how the Arsenal setup would change if Huntelaar comes into the side. We have one out and out striker in Giroud. Chamakh has lost all confidence to score. Let’s keep aside the overconfident Bendtner and the most bizarre of buys, Park Chu Young. It is safe to assume that they have no future at the Emirates.
I like Olivier; his link up play and the way he aerially commands the game at the front is highly impressive. Though he has not quite scored as much as we would want, his number of assists is pretty impressive. Even considering all this, there is no way Giroud can keep Huntelaar on the bench. Klaas has too much class for that.
So in Arsenal’s normal 4-3-2-1, he would directly replace Giroud. There would be no other change, in theory. Even though we would miss Giroud’s huge presence up front, standing at 6 feet 1 inch, Huntelaar is no small human either. Though not as commanding in the air, Huntelaar would greatly increase our goal tally from normal build up play. Podolski , Walcott, and the rest would take their normal positions with Giroud dropping to the bench , to be used in rotation.
Coming to Walcott, another important factor that has to be considered is his impending departure. With each passing week, the winger’s bargaining position gets better and I fear Wenger’s patience may be beginning to run thin. I have my reasons for wanting to keep him, but suppose he leaves the club, ‘the OX’ as a week in week out replacement is not appealing; not yet at least. I would then love to see Santi Cazorla moving to the right wing, a position he has played in with much success for Malaga and Spain. This would counter opposing teams tactics of stifling him in the centre, which I now see every other match in the league The space for him to manoeuvre would be far greater. Mata’s impact at Chelsea’s from the left can be cited as an example for the change.
That would mean Rosicky taking the front in our midfield triangle, leaving jack Wilshere and Arteta to take the remaining positions. But the fact that the Czech Mozart is getting old would not be lost on Wenger. Quite dramatically. I would suggest trying Thomas Eisfeld. Another Borrusia product like Rosciky, Eisfeld is one our reserves’ best, with comparisons being drawn to Cesc. The little of him I’ve seen has impressed me greatly. He would be perfect for that spot as our most creative option. Jon Toral and Kristoffer Olsson are other youth products who could come into the team for that role.
Huntelaar’s arrival could impact the gunners in another way too.
Arsenal has a tendency to not change formations. Even in matches where we are in desperate need of goals, we do not tinker with the setup. Recalling our AC Milan match where we lost steam after scoring three in the first half, maybe a double striker setup would have been more effective for the remainder of that match. In fact, in two years of following the club, I have only once seen that formation being utilized. With Huntelaar coming in, it gives a perfect opportunity to use this once favorite formation of Wenger’s.
Giroud and Henry would be no Henry-Bergkamp but those two upfront with Podolski behind to serve as a third striking option would be brilliant to either chase games or put teams in misery. In this setup, I can envision Podolski behind the two strikers. A good tackler and a mean shot taker, it would be a perfect foil for the two upfront. Giroud’s link up play would fit very well with Huntelaar’s striking prowess. It could have the potential become the best strike force in England with the ability to the surpass the Rooney-RVP and Tevez–Aguero combinations.
Cazorla would go to the right and one of our ‘arsenal’ of wingers can take the left, with Gnabry shooting through the ranks to add to Gervinho, The Ox and a returning Miyachi. The chance of Arsenal permanently reverting to this is highly unlikely, at least till Wenger is in-charge. Its use would mainly be in cup matches and against ‘smaller’ opposition. For this to be effective in the premier league too, we need a hard tackling, strong, defensive midfielder to cover the defence. There are many supposed transfer targets for this role, but whether any of them will materialize is something only Wenger knows.
Back in defence, Sagna could possibly leave the club this January. I am not overly concerned as Carl Jenkinson’s meteoric rise provides us cover there. The rest of our backline looks stable and Szczesny looks good for retaining the No.1 shirt for the remainder of the season.