Unsurprisingly, there has been a lot of moaning and groaning at Marouane Chamakh’s words about wanting to stay and fight for the team. I can see where they’re coming from, but I don’t agree with it. The popular view with the Arsenal fans seems to be that Chamakh is a failed striker, incapable of contributing to the team, and is only sticking around to eat up the wage bill and smoke Hooka. But what if I told you, Chamakh isn’t as bad as you think?
Now I will not make any excuses for Chamakh. He’s just coming off of a very poor season for any striker. Just that one goal against Blackburn, right? On the face of it the only option seems to be “ret rid.”But if we look a little closer, or farther back, we can see that Chamakh can actually produce the goods for the first team. So if Chamakh thinks that through hard work he can recapture that form and help the team in some way we can’t begrudge him that. But the question is, can he? I think he actually possibly could.
The thing is that strikers are judged on goals, and Chamakh was never a goalscorer. Even in Ligue 1 he didn’t have a great scoring record, and whatever goals he did score he seemed to score with his head. And we can see that when he plays his shooting technique is pretty poor for a striker, and so is his movement inside the box.
But the other thing is that he was never brought in to be a goalscorer. Wenger said that the main responsibility for a striker in a 4-5-1 is to involve the midfielders in the attack. Chamakh does that very well. He has more strength than RvP and he holds the ball up well. Wins more headers off goal kicks and long balls to knock down for teammates, and his link up play in and around the box is great.
In the 10-11 season, around him he had Arshavin, Nasri, Fabregas, and Walcott banging in the goals. We didn’t need a striker who necessarily scored goals, but who was capable of bringing these players into play and helping them score. Chamakh did just that and we had a pretty decent start to the season.
In 11-12, we lost our goalscoring midfield. RvP was the only one scoring, making it impossible to drop him, even for a rest. Chamakh would come on and do his usual thing, laying off chances for others, but who was there to take them? Chamakh wasn’t a brilliant player, but he offered the team something it needed. Last season the team needed goalscorers, and Chamakh wasn’t one.
Chamakh’s failure, perhaps, was in that he was never able to adapt and improve. In Ligue 1 being a target man and a provider was enough. In the EPL you needed to be more than that to be a top class striker.
The worrying thing for Chamakh is that Podolski and Giroud are better overall strikers than him, and they have to be considered favorites for 1st and 2nd choice. Giroud is even a better plan B, having a far superior record of winning aerial duels. But if our midfield starts firing again at least somewhat, Chamakh could again become a useful option. If RvP’s departure will give him a new sense of motivation, and he is willing to work hard and fight for his place, then I think we shouldn’t mind keeping him and letting him contribute in whatever way he can.