Skip to content

Walcott injury sends Wenger, Arsenal searching for quick solutions at forward

Jan 7, 2014, 11:30 PM EDT

Seems like signing off on a contract extension is a mere formality for Arsene Wenger. Getty Images

If Theo Walcott’s injury was Arsenal’s only health concern, the situation would be bad enough. But Olivier Giroud is also out. So is Nicklas Bendtner as well as a handful of other people beyond the forward line. Now, with only Lukas Podolski healthy among Arsenal’s normal forward options, the Premier League-leading Gunners are experiencing a textbook injury crisis at the striker position.

Short on options ahead of Monday’s visit to Villa Park, it’s understandable why Arsenal is seeking what The Guardian’s calling a “quick-fix” solution. But contrary to the more unbelievable rumors, that fix might not involve the likes of Atlético Madrid’s Diego Costa, Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema, Bayern Munich’s Mario Mandzukic or Manchester City’s Edin Dezko. (Seriously, why would some of these guys move in January anyway?) Wary of paying the inflated prices in the January window, Arsène Wenger is said to have instructed scouts to find a short-term solution – somebody that can help the club make it to June before redressing the position this summer.

[MORE: Theo Walcott will miss rest of season and World Cup]

That leaves somebody like Real Madrid’s Álvaro Morata. The 21-year-old has been near a goal-per-game scorer at youth levels for Spain, part of the reason Carlo Ancelotti wanted to keep him around the Santiago Bernabéu this season. Yet after the late August acquisition of Gareth Bale restored El Real’s attacking depth, Morata’s been limited to one La Liga start (though he has come on nine times as a substitute). In 14 all-competition appearances, the Madrid-born talent as two goals, with a lack of playing time limiting his production.

How much more playing time he’d get through June at Arsenal is an open question, but in the short-term, Morata would go to the top of the depth chart. When Olivier Giroud returns (and reportedly, he’s close) Morata would still often valuable cover for a player whose Champions League starts will prompt some rotation in February. As Arsenal’s season progresses, preserving Giroud’s minutes could be one of the many thin margins for error that defines this season’s Premier League title race.

[MORE: Theo Walcott just the first; roster of World Cup injury misfortune sure to grow]

The risk here is whether Morata will have an impact. At Real Madrid B and with Spain’s U-level teams, he’s produced, and via the eye test, he certainly looks like somebody who can contribute for most teams in the world …

… and during Arsenal’s injury crisis, the Gunners’ could be one of those teams. Yet Morata still represents more risk than going out and finding somebody with a more proven track record. Whereas Morata has more talent than most players Arsenal could acquire, it’s no given that talent will translate into Premier League goals.

Still, when you stop and consider the thin layer of proven options that would fit at Arsenal, Morata’s risk might be worthwhile. As players like Demba Ba and Andy Carroll have shown at clubs like Chelsea and Liverpool, some players can’t translate performance at one level to production on another. Add in Arsenal’s style of play and need to find somebody who can make an impact in Champions League and a title race, it may be better to roll the dice on potential than accept limitations.

Ultimately, this is only for six months. Acquiring another player — a more proven option from another team — would probably require a purchase as opposed to a loan. A short-term commitment allows Arsenal to dip back into the market in June without an ongoing financial commitment.

Thus, the argument for Morata. Or, a Morata-like player. At least, that’s the theory behind it. Whether Real Madrid cares about this line of thinking is another issue entirely.

Latest Posts
  1. Mourinho: Chelsea will promote a handful of youth players to first team next year

    Apr 20, 2015, 11:27 PM EDT

    Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Chelsea FA Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Chelsea FA

    Mourinho says Chelsea will look to the club’s stacked youth academy for reinforcements, as well as the transfer market.

  2. Report: Jordan Henderson agrees new $150,000-per-week contract to stay at Liverpool

    Apr 20, 2015, 9:44 PM EDT

    Jordan Henderson, Liverpool FC Jordan Henderson, Liverpool FC

    Liverpool’s captain-in-waiting is reportedly set to sign a new long-term deal at Anfield.

  3. UEFA Champions League preview: Can PSG, Bayern come back from 3-1 down to Barcelona, Porto?

    Apr 20, 2015, 8:15 PM EDT

    Pep Guardiola, FC Bayern Munich Pep Guardiola, FC Bayern Munich

    PSG and Bayern Munich did themselves no favors in the first leg, but it’s still 90 minutes from over.

  4. Qatar, FIFA plan to house 12,000 fans on cruise ships at 2022 World Cup

    Apr 20, 2015, 7:16 PM EDT

    Sepp Blatter, FIFA president Sepp Blatter, FIFA president

    In FIFA and Qatar’s latest installment of “No, We’re Not Joking, We’re Serious”…

  5. Former USMNT DF Steve Cherundolo promoted to assistant manager at Hannover

    Apr 20, 2015, 5:27 PM EDT

    Steve Cherundolo, Hannover 96 & USMNT Steve Cherundolo, Hannover 96 & USMNT

    Steve Cherundolo got a promotion on Monday, under less than desirable circumstances, but he’s still advancing in the coaching world rather quickly.

  6. MLS Player of the Week — Week 7: FC Dallas’ Fabian Castillo

    Apr 20, 2015, 4:53 PM EDT

    Fabian Castillo, FC Dallas Fabian Castillo, FC Dallas

    He’ll be an MLS MVP one day, but for now Fabian Castillo will have to settle for MLS Player of the Week.

  7. MLS Team of the Week — Stars of Week 7

    Apr 20, 2015, 4:09 PM EDT

    Sebastian Giovinco, Toronto FC Getty Images

    Week 7 was chock full of goals — some really great ones, in fact — making this week’s Team of the Week tough to pick.

  8. Premier League Power Rankings: Big climbers galore as momentum kicks in

    Apr 20, 2015, 3:25 PM EDT

    Leicester City v Swansea City - Premier League Getty Images

    With five weeks to go, in-form sides are surging up our rankings of power.

  9. VIDEO: Is Chelsea’s defensive style boring? Do they need to entertain us?

    Apr 20, 2015, 2:06 PM EDT

    The Blues are inching towards the 2014-15 title but many are unimpressed with their defensive displays. Let’s sit down and think about this.

  10. New UEFA rules: An Arsenal FA Cup win could help Tottenham qualify for Europe…

    Apr 20, 2015, 1:18 PM EDT

    Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal - Premier League Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal - Premier League

    If the Gunners win the FA Cup next month it could well book Spurs a place in the Europa League. Seriously.

  11. Premier League Playback: Manchester United prove they can challenge Chelsea for the title

    Apr 20, 2015, 12:09 PM EDT

    Manchester United v Aston Villa - Premier League Getty Images

    PST’s Lead Writer and Editor takes a look back at Week 33 in the PL.

  12. Sepp Blatter: Putin, Russia will host “best ever World Cup” in 2018

    Apr 20, 2015, 10:40 AM EDT

    Blatter: “Nothing will get in the way of Russia hosting the best ever World Cup.”

  13. Guardiola issues rallying call, says Bayern Munich will beat FC Porto

    Apr 20, 2015, 10:14 AM EDT

    1899 Hoffenheim v FC Bayern Muenchen - Bundesliga Getty Images

    Bayern’s boss positive his side can overturn 3-1 deficit in Tuesday’s second leg.

  14. The 2 Robbies podcast: Chelsea boring? United’s progress and Klopp for City?

    Apr 20, 2015, 9:15 AM EDT

    The 2 Robbies

    Earle and Mustoe dissect Chelsea’s defensive display and much more in the latest podcast.

  15. Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale set to miss three weeks, Champions League clash vs. Atletico, with injury

    Apr 20, 2015, 7:31 AM EDT

    FBL-ESP-LIGA-REAL MADRID-MALAGA FBL-ESP-LIGA-REAL MADRID-MALAGA

    Welsh superstar to miss Wednesday’s clash against Atletico Madrid after picking up calf injury.

  16. With top clubs calling, Danny Ings doesn’t want to be second-choice striker

    Apr 19, 2015, 10:09 PM EDT

    Burnley v Arsenal - Premier League Getty Images

    With clubs such as Liverpool and Manchester United reportedly interested in signing the Burnley goalscorer, Ings has said he will only go where he can get consistent playing time.

  17. MLS Snapshot: New York City FC 0-1 Portland Timbers

    Apr 19, 2015, 9:16 PM EDT

    Khiry Shelton, Alvas Powell AP

    The Portland Timbers had to grind out a win at Yankee Stadium, just squeaking by a David Villa-less NYCFC.

Featured video

Hazard seals victory for Chelsea