On the radio today I heard Arsenal fans call in and bash long serving manager Arsene Wenger for his inability to solve Arsenal’s biggest problem, the lack of a 20+ goals a season striker. As I sat in the cab, I had to agree with them, Arsenal have all aspects of the game in spades, a world class goalkeeper (Petr Cech) a fantastic defense, the most talented assembly of midfielders in the UK and an experienced manager, but for all their good play, Arsenal have Welbeck, and Olivier Giroud as their center forwards, both strikers ore only deadly when the ball is squared into the box at 8 yards or less. While being a six yard striker is not exactly easy (ask Yakubu Aiyegbeni) Arsenal need more than that. Enter Cavani or Benzema.
Arsenal have been linked with Edinson Cavani and Karim Benzema for over a year now and have somehow managed to land neither of them even though the need for a striker of their reputation is badly needed at the Emirates Stadium. Arsene Wenger has seen his side dominate a lot of games in the last 12 months and he has also seen his forwards miss a host of chances in that time. With the pressure building, Wenger is set to sign either the Frenchman or the Uruguayan either of whom will relegate Giroud and his misfiring left foot to the bench but the question for Wenger now is who?
First off, let us put it out there; Benzema is French, Wenger has an affinity for French players, he communicates better with them and if you look at some of the most successful Arsenal players Under Wenger, they have been French, Thierry Henry, Patrick Virera, Robert Pires and William Gallas and Mathieu Flamini. Wenger knows how to work with French players. Giroud is not an outlier in this case as Wenger is actually getting the best out of Giroud. He is just not Arsenal’s quality. Benzema on the other hand is Real Madrid quality and the forward has consistently banged in over 20 goals in a season for 6 seasons now. Beyond that, Benzema has enormous strength and is a danger in the air, with an ardent ability to read the game and hold on to possession, Benzema is quite frankly the real deal. Benzema can not only go past defenders but is also excellent at link up play, for those who don’t know, link up play refers to holding the ball in and around the box and playing those quick one-twos. Benzema’s excellent positioning makes him a deadly poacher, so all those rebounds that Giroud can’t get to, Benzema is the man. Benzema is also technically gifted in his ability to read the game and run into spaces. Benzema also has a lot of technique when it comes to hitting the ball and that makes him one of the most complete forwards around. Benzema’s only problem is his pace and Arsenal also break with pace and if he can’t keep up with the pace, he might not always get the better of defenders in the EPL but Benzema would be a phenomenal signing Arsene Wenger.
The firmer Napoli man is one of the best strikers in the world, pace, strength and an eye for goal that would make any manager drool. Cavani can score with literally any part of his body, his chest, his head and both feet. Cavani’s biggest danger is his intimidating presence in the box Cavani gets the better of defenders with his strength and one on one, his pace would leave any defender for dead. Arsenal are in Genuine need of a forward that can out muscle defenders in and around the box and Cavani can do it. Cavani’s positioning is not the best in the world but he can make use of whatever little space he is allowed and is a great shot from anything under 30 yards. When it comes to counter attacks, Cavani’s pace is a huge plus and if you need a big game player, call on Cavani, he will deliver. While Cavani can get past defenders he is not the most skillful player around. Cavani’s passing range is limited, making him a poor partner for link up play and his inability to hold up play would make him unable to contribute to the arsenal style of play.
Arsenal tend to slow the game down and Cavani need pace to be deadly, Benzema on the other hand loves slow and methodical football. Benzema can contribute more than goals to Arsenal but Cavani is a box player. Cavani’s only advantage is that he can function as a winger while Benzema might not be very effective. If I was Wenger, I’ll go for Benzema every day of the week. But I’ll still prefer Cavani