Arsenal signed off the season finishing up second in the table above the likes of Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool and their bitter rivals Tottenham Spurs ( big thanks to Newcastle United). However, it was a big disappointment for both the manager and the fans knowing that they were the favourites to lift the league title after 12 years and still failed behind unexpected Leicester City. Moreover, they couldn’t retain the FA Cup which they were winning for the last two years. After all this, Wenger will surely be busy in the summer transfer window. And he hasn’t disappointed. Arsenal have already secured a young, tall and powerful deep-lying midfielder in Granit Xhaka who will strengthen their midfield and can solve their defensive midfielder issues. Recent rumours suggest that Arsenal have already triggered the release clause of PFA Player of the Year Jamie Vardy who scored 24 goals and helped Leicester City to win the title. It seems pleasant to hear that Wenger is attempting to upgrade his striker to solve goalscoring issues. But is Jamie Vardy really the perfect solution?
IS JAMIE VARDY THE PERFECT SOLUTION FOR ARSENAL?
If we focus on the Leicester City this season, Claudio Ranieri believed in maintaining lesser possession and more direct counter-attacking where the midfielders will quickly win the ball and hoof it over the opposition’s defensive line where the striker will outpace the defenders and finish the task. Seemingly difficult to execute, it worked perfectly thanks to the tireless midfielders in N’golo Kante and Danny Drinkwater. Considering the pace and finishing of Jamie Vardy, he was the perfect player for this job. But comparing this to the poles apart Arsenal’s playstyle, who love to dominate possession and create chances by their passing, Vardy won’t be as much perfect as he was last season. Moreover, Arsenal are more likely to face teams who love to defend deep and are resilient enough to be broken down. In such cases, Vardy will find it very difficult to find enough spaces to utilise his pace.
But this isn’t the only reason. Even if Wenger is willing to change his system to a counter attacking one, he would be wasting both money and time looking for any outside player when he already has a similar player to Jamie Vardy in their squad – Theo Walcott. Yes, it seems funny because Walcott had a disappointing goalscoring return over the whole season. But initially, when he was given the role upfront, he was similarly performing the role Vardy did. For example, the goal against Stoke City at home, or the goal against Dinamo Zagreb away, or the goal against Leicester City away. All these goals were finished in exactly similar fashion to what Vardy was doing almost the whole season. At this point, Vardy will look more superior to Walcott because Walcott has just started to learn the central striker role, but at 27 he has the time factor to improve himself, unlike Vardy who will be turning 30 this season and won’t be as effective as last season. Even if we ignore the age factor, Walcott is more suited to the team as he links up well with his fellow midfielders Cazorla, Wilshere, Ramsey and Ozil who already know about his movements and can find him quickly whereas Vardy will take the time to adjust his game to the Arsenal’s passing game. Even after all this if Walcott fails, Wenger can use another option in Alexis Sanchez who has better finishing. Therefore, signing Vardy can be a waste of money nor he will be a long term solution.
Signing Vardy isn’t the only solution to Arsenal’s goalscoring problems.
Arsenal’s highest goalscorer was their main striker Olivier Giroud with 16 goals in the league despite going goalless for 14 consecutive games. Which points to another fact that their wide midfielders weren’t effective enough which seemed obvious as other players Alexis Sanchez(13 goals) suffered almost four months on sideline due to hamstring injury whereas the likes of Ozil(7), Walcott(5), Ramsey(5), Chamberlain(1) weren’t consistent enough. Hence, signing a young prolific goalscoring wide midfielder will not only add goals to their team but can provide a different attacking dimension as well. Moreover, fresh rumours suggest that Arsenal are favourites to sign the likes of Riyad Mahrez or Henrikh Mikhitariyan who were star performers for their respective teams and can rather provide a long-term solution, unlike Vardy.
Unless Wenger is really confident that Vardy’s age and his style of play won’t be a big issue, he will be wasting 20 million which can be utilised in signing younger and better players like Mahrez, Mikhitariyan, etc.