Taken a year to replace Ade, but Chamakh is not all about his head
From his highlights at Bordeaux, Marouane Chamakh looked so skilled at guiding the ball with his head that you had to wonder whether he was one of those towering strikers who knew how to use their head more than their foot (ex: Kenwyne Jones).
But from what the Moroccan has shown in pre-season, he might not be just about heading the ball well. Thus, it is worth saying that Adebayor has finally been replaced.
And despite your understandable bitterness, you cannot argue otherwise because the Togolese was indeed missed last season.
People simply get the usage of the word ‘missed’ wrong with Ade. See, Adebayor was not missed in terms of his services as a one-time 30-goal scorer, but missed in terms of his attributes as a big striker capable of leading a frontline.
Even so, the Togo man’s absence was felt only because Wenger chose not to replace him like-for-like. The boss framed Vela, a much different sort of striker, as Adebayor’s stand-in after he failed to lure Chamakh from Bordeaux.
And that decision, upon all Wenger’s intelligence, backfired because it left the fragile Van Persie and Bendtner as the only players in the squad capable of playing upfront on their own.
That said, just imagine if Adebayor was at least in the squad to play in place of the injured Van Persie and Bendtner when we faced Chelsea and United at the Emirates last season.
Just imagine how matters could have been different during those capitulations to our closest rivals where we were battered not because they dominated us all over the pitch but because we were sucker-punched.
Sucker-punched because we had no muscle upfront to shrug off Terry and Alex or Wes Brown and Evans to make something out of at least one of the many chances we created through our little passing moves.
In those matches, we were so desperate for anyone powerful enough to play upfront that even big Sol Campbell would have done better in holding the ball up for Fabregas and Nasri more than midget Arshavin could do. Size was just more significant than skill there.
This brings me back to the point that it has taken a year later for Adebayor to be replaced.
And Chamakh – after witnessing his couple of goals in preseason – could actually be the calm, accurate finisher Eduardo once was while also being that tall, strong striker Adebayor’s exit (and Bendtner’s injury woes) left us in need of.
The way he carefully placed the penalty against SC Neusiedl 1919 (when others might have gone with power) and how he coolly side-footed the ball home against Milan showed that Chamakh, apart from being such an expert header of the ball, is also a striker who likes to finish precisely.
That is key because with Arsenal’s style of passing football, his heading ability was not so fitting and in fact, he might not get as many crosses as he received in France because over in north London, we roll the ball on the ground more.
Therefore, when bought, Chamakh had to boast some ability to score with his foot since Arsenal FC – from Henry to pre-injury Eduardo – is the home of sharp finishers and not necessarily lanky frontmen.
And after observing how he prefers to strike the ball with accuracy, we might not just have the capable ball-header we need in Chamakh, but the cool finisher we also like to see.
Oh, and not even mentioned is how he occassionally does the work of a midfielder in assisting others to attack.