With minutes to spare in Sunday’s North London derby, Arsène Wenger needed something in attack to add real threat alongside Van Persie, something different for them to deal with, something… taller. Instead of having the option to throw on a Crouch, a Zigic or a Carew up to do that, the Frenchman could only resort to centre-back Per Mertesacker in order to test the Spurs backline.
Marouane Chamakh – at an imposing 6ft 2in – is the tallest of all seven strikers currently at the club and Wenger stole him from the grasp of other interested parties with the sole purpose of gaining height advantage for a team that generally consists of shorter, more technical players. However, despite a promising start to his spell at the Emirates, his goals dried out. This lull has continued, much to the disappointment of Arsenal fans and neutrals alike, with what looked like an impressive talent at Bordeaux becoming very much a bit-part player at the Emirates.
Wenger seemingly shared the cynics’ views in a discussion in an interview from the Guardian just a year after signing the Moroccan: “We need to improve the size of our squad. We need a bigger variety in the height of our players. We need to be more capable of fighting against some characteristics than we have been this season.”
Arsenal’s new number nine, Park Chu-Young (also known as Ju-Young Park) is also among the taller attacking forces at a lofty 6ft. Though he has been known to score headers, he hasn’t been given a chance in the team yet and it seems unlikely that Wenger would deploy a player capable of some tremendous footwork as a target man. Similarly, Robin Van Persie has scored with his head, but there is no doubt that restricting him to such a rigid position would never get the unmatched best out of him.
Therefore, do the Gunners need a tall striker to either give Van Persie more of a free role or to act as a valuable impact player, or can they make-do with the shorter, more technical squad members they have already?