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Why Chamakh should be Arsenal’s lead gun

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Maroaune Chamakh has to lead the Gunners in Van Persie's absenceNo team in the Premier League blows as hot and cold as Arsenal. Since defeating Barcelona 2-1 at the Emirates, the Gunners have drawn with Leyton Orient and Sunderland, lost to Birmingham (in a cup final nonetheless) and scraped past Stoke with a 1-0 victory. Only a 5-0 victory over Leyton Orient in last week’s replay saw Arsenal display anything approaching their best form. Their formbook has as many troughs as there are peaks – indeed, the highs and lows of being an Arsenal fan can often leave you with a pervasive sense of vertigo. Nonetheless, you persevere.

The same can be said for the likes of Denilson and Abou Diaby, who do little for the Gunners beyond persevering from teamsheet to teamsheet. I only wonder what they think when they see the likes of Jack Wilshere bombing up and down the pitch, giving his all in every game. He must appear as though he were an entirely different species.

Saturday’s game against Sunderland was particularly disappointing. There was too little movement, not enough invention and an absence of cut and thrust.

As for bad referring decisions, yes, I realise Andrey Arshavin had a goal mistakenly ruled offside. I’m also certain that the Gunners could have had a penalty when Titus Bramble, unable to keep pace with the diminutive Russian, collapsed to his knees and clutched desperately at Arshavin’s arse-cheeks disturbing his composure as he went to shoot.

Despite this, Arsenal still should have had enough in them to see off Sunderland – a team who, let’s not forget, had lost their last four games. It’s easy enough to blame the ref, but I think questions have to be asked about Arsenal’s worryingly lacklustre first half performance. I may have singled out the likes of Diaby and Denilson for criticism, but upfront, Bendtner didn’t provide enough movement or fight to trouble the Sunderland defence.

It’s not surprising, in my opinion that Marouane Chamakh’s introduction in the second-half saw the Gunners begin to assert their dominance in a meaningful way. Indeed, his header rebounding off of Mignolet’s crossbar seemed to shake Arsenal back into life. But it was too little too late.

After a blistering start to his Arsenal career, Chamakh’s fortunes have slowly faded. He may have scored 11 times for the Gunners, but only one of those goals have come in the last three months. A decline in form, no doubt, but one that is likely attributable to a lack of regular football in lieu of Robin Van Persie miraculously maintaining his fitness.

Of course, all good things come to an end. Van Persie picked up an injury scoring against Birmingham in the Carling Cup final and as such, it has been up to the likes of Marouane Chamakh and Nicklas Bendtner to steer Arsenal through a tricky couple of weeks. The latest news is that Robin Van Persie is set (somewhat miraculously) to feature in Arsenal’s second leg clash with Barcelona this evening. It would surprise no-one, however, if he picked up another injury before the season’s end and Arsenal had to rely on both Chamakh and Bendtner once more. But when push came to shove, who would you pick?

It’s true, Bendtner is a natural goal-scorer, look no further than his hat-trick against Leyton Orient last week, but he’s also much too wasteful on the ball. His passing isn’t great, his first touch is awful and he lacks in pace. Off the ball, he’s much too static. It doesn’t help that Wenger often plays him out on the wings.

Given regular games, there’s no doubt that Chamakh will get you goals. Moreover, he’s capable of linking up the play between the midfield and strikers in a way that Bendtner often fails to do. He works hard, forces defenders into mistakes and creates space for other players to move into. There’s no doubt in my mind that he should have started against Sunderland.

Indeed, in the absence of Robin Van Persie, Marouane Chamakh should be Arsenal’s leading man.

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10 comments

  • Steven says:

    I agree with you 100%. Only Arsene Wengers knows the reason why Bendtner should start ahead of Chamakh. Chamakh is a more intelligent player than Bendtner and his movement off the ball is superb. He just need to learn to take the scoring opportunities when they present themselves. That will come with playing regularly but there is a problem with Wenger in that he sees any good in Bendtner. Bendtner at best is a division one striker.

  • Jimbo says:

    Complete nonsense.

    Chamakh is a technically very limited player. He started reasonably well, but most of his goals were complete sitters – when the midfield’s not firing behind him, he adds nothing to the team. When Arsenal’s midfield are firing, my nan could play up front and score a handful of goals.

    Chamakh’s form has been patchy all season. Yes, he got goals, but week to week he was incredibly up and down.

    Limited footballer, and a very poor signing – one that will probably cost Arsenal a trophy.

    • Harry Cloke says:

      I view Chamakh as a striker very much in the van Nistelrooy mould. Not that I’m saying that Chamakh has anywhere near the quality or ability of Ruud. What I like about Chamakh is that he does the simple things well. Given a run of games, I think he might well prove your assessment wrong. He doesn’t just score tap ins.

      I know I’d rather have Chamakh playing when the midfield aren’t firing that Nicklas Bendtner.

      • Jimbo says:

        How do you come to that conclusion?

        Bendtner’s scoring record is either comparable or superior to Chamakh’s at every level (domestically, european & internationally). Difference is, Bendtner has shown himself at least semi-capable of getting the ‘difficult’ goals. Chamakh is completely unable to score unless the ball is on a plate for him (that was true in France as well).

        As for the Van Nistelrooy comparison, I just don’t see it. RVN was a supremely intelligent player, and had finishing ability second-to-none. Chamakh isn’t really anything like him at all – if anything, Emile Heskey is a more accurate comparison (on just about every level).

        • Harry Cloke says:

          Bendtner’s record superior to Chamakh’s? It’s his first season, and apart from the first couple of months, Chamakh has been unable to get regular games under his belt. I think given time, regular games and the confidence that comes with that, we’ll see Chamakh showing more ambition and getting a few tasty goals.

          Bendtner, of course, doesn’t lack for confidence and so already has that aspect to his game. He also tends to disappoint in terms of the simple stuff that Chamakh does well.

          His hold-up play and lay-offs are much more intelligent than anything Bendtner has to offer, which allows the midfield to come further forward. That’s what I mean by intelligence.

  • Yipyip says:

    To be honest, I think this is an area of the squad that Wenger could probably do with strengthening. I love Robin Van Persie, but the lad just doesn’t stay fit and we find ourselves depending on players who just aren’t quite at the races.

    It’s a shame really, what happened to Eduardo. I think he would have been an excellect fill-in.

  • Michael says:

    Everyone talks about the poor touch that Bendtner has, but the guy has scored some brilliant goals with a first touch that Ronaldo(R9) would be proud of, it’s just the lack of consistency that comes with it.

    Chamakh has scored 12 goals this season and B52 8 with the latter missing 2-3 months at the start of the season, the guy proved last yr he can score goals at crucial times for the team, even when B52 is on the right he performs better than the Chamakh.

    • Jessie says:

      You’re right, but for every good goal Bendtner has score there are three more chances that he has fluffed completely.

      More annoying still is the way he lumbers around the field. He doesn’t force enough mistakes from opposition back-fours.

  • George McNeil says:

    Both are incredibly frustrating players, due to the knowledge that they can do better.

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