Arsenal Focus – Attacking explosion gives Wenger food for thought

As the January transfer window prepares to enter its final rumour-laden, almost insufferable, week, Arsenal have been tapped on the shoulder by their beleaguered strike force.

In what can be construed as a curveball for the Gunners’ recruitment plans, the club’s forwards, whose form have varied between distinctly average and anonymously wretched in the past few months, decided to turn on the style in a 5-1 hammering of West Ham United on Wednesday evening.

German international star Lukas Podolski finally showed his full attacking repertoire, scoring and turning in a virtuoso man-of-the-match performance, before being substituted after 70 minutes. His goal, from well outside the area, was akin to a remotely-guided cruise missile, nestling into the back of Jussi Jaaskleainen’s net before the Hammers ‘keeper could even consider stopping it.

His Arsenal teammate, Olivier Giroud, also flourished when confronted by Sam Allardyce’s extremely poor West Ham outfit. He added two goals to the scoreline, taking his Gunners tally to 11 in all competitions for the season – on the face of it, an acceptable return for a striker taking part in his first Premier League season.

Theo Walcott scored yet another goal too. Manager Arsene Wenger opted to start Walcott on the right flank rather than his preferred central berth but, rather than grumble and mope, he adjusted well and looks to be settled in north London having finally signed his new contract last week.

This strikers’ renaissance is obviously great news for an Arsenal team who remain in touch with the top four, four points behind fourth-placed Tottenham Hotspur and just one back from David Moyes’ Everton. But will Wenger now be persuaded to pop his wallet back into his coat pocket rather than splash the cash on another goal-getter?

Wenger would be wisely advised not to base the beliefs about his squad on 90 minutes of football alone. Indeed, he is far from a fickle character, making the likelihood of a kneejerk reaction to the Hammers hammering unlikely.

Four of Arsenal’s goals on Wednesday evening came in 10 crazy minutes in the early stages of the second half, when West Ham’s staggered back four appeared to still be in the Emirates Stadium dressing room. That exhilarating period was what won the match for the home side and such a spell has been rare over the period of this campaign.

Even if Arsenal’s terrific trio maintain such form, lack of depth is still a perturbing issue in Wenger’s squad. Should Podolski, Walcott or Giroud pick up a semi-serious injury, team form could suffer. And while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Gervinho could soften the blow of any loss to a wide man, centrally Arsenal are still light.

Rumours persist about a number of central forwards including Mainz’s Adam Szalai, Atletico Madrid’s Adrian and Barcelona’s want away striker David Villa. But whether Wenger will decide to shuffle his pack remains to be seen.

See what the expert tipsters at OLBG are tipping on Arsenal v Liverpool

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