We Need a New CF, Mustafi is Available

All our Center Forwards look the same. They are waiting to pounce on a quality ball all day long. Auba is average on the ball and with his passing; Eddie is not much better and the quintessential pouncing forward; Laca is again a bit better but nothing to write home about: they all are natural finishers but as footballers quite limited. Our wing play is really not bad at all but too often our attackers do not join in but wait in the box for that top quality pass. Most of our opponents are just too good at defending to make this approach work.

All are not strong in the air so defenders only have to worry about the low to the ground passes. Usually they outnumber our attackers and not enough runs are made from midfield to add an extra threat. As a result, our attacks are often one-dimensional and as sharp as cooked spaghetti; something has to change.

We discussed the need for a nr10 sort of player behind the attackers. There are a few who can play in that role. Under Arteta, and rightly so, this needs to be a hard working midfielder who will score regularly. The only player who fits that bill realistically is Willian. We have a few youngsters like Willock, ESR or Saka, but our real hope has to be Martinelli once he is fully fit again.

I still think that just playing a nr10 will not resolve all our issues. Our attackers in front of this position need to be able to receive the ball and keep it, pass clever balls, dribble and thus help to create openings and chances for each other. I just don’t see the likes of Auba, Eddie and Laca do that enough. It is also fair to say that Pepe remains a work in progress.

What we are crying our for is a CF who is strong in the air and can do the hold up play really well. Somebody who can pass and combine with others and who is a focal point for both our nr10 as well as the wing players. Arteta needs to mix things up a bit. I agree he cannot score the goals for his attackers and they have been missing form significantly, but just waiting for it to change by itself may just not work.

See the source image

There are some big games coming up before the TW opens, so why not try something different? Who is strong in the air and likes to hustle with players, can receive the ball well and pass accurately (enough)? Other than a youngster like Moller, I cannot think about anyone. So why not try one of our unused defenders with an eye for a goal for a few weeks? Just to mix it up a bit. Shkodran this is your moment! ๐Ÿ˜‰

By TotalArsenal.

48 thoughts on “We Need a New CF, Mustafi is Available

  • TA, that’s so “from left field” and so radical in its conception. You make a good argument too, after the rather (painfully) accurate assessment of our strikers, especially Auba (man won’t put his body on the line for anything), but it is unlikely Arteta considers that. Ever! Fat Sam (Allardyce) would though.

    But, heck! Nothing seems to be working now and suddenly, Leno mixes the long balls with passing out from the back. So, if we are chasing it/something, with about 15 minutes to go, it won’t hurt to throw on a CB type and Mustafi can be useful in this regard.

    Arsenal has to learn to keep the ball better as a team, while most of our players need to look after the ball better, when in possession. Take Auba’s tame effort at making something of the rebound from Holdings late header, which came off the bar. I kid you not, in that same situation, I am diving onto that ball to force a decision by the defender, who cannot risk fouling in the box; or, at least, keep control of the ball till a pass is evident. Auba just went through the motions, “pretending” he made the effort to control the ball, only it was a half hearted one, giving the defender a chance to clear. Does he truly wish to end his barren run and fight for the golden Boot again? I am sorry, I am taking it out a bit more on Auba, for a trait that is manifesting in most of our forwards today. But, it is what it is.

  • Excellent comment and related Post, TA, so thank you for that.

    Before I sat down to watch the game against S/Hampton, I closely looked at the team, and thought it was a ‘bit same’, other than the replacements for Xhaka and Belli who had been naughty.

    Then I saw the subs bench and was pretty disappointed, not because of the players necessarily, but because of the positions they played in, and as mentioned, there was no player on the bench with attacking flair to fall back on.

    Your suggestion about playing Mustafi as a temporary CF seemed amusing at first, but actually there is a lot going for that, as he heads the ball well, can move quickly, and would confuse the defenders he comes up against as they would not be familiar with him as an attacker.

    But I would counter that with another suggestion. None other than a New York lad — Folarin Balogun. He has come on as a sub in the last two Europa League games, and scored in each of them.

    He has been a fantastic goal scorer in the U21s and the U23s from the moment he joined Arsenal at 17. I thought to myself when he was not named on the bench against the Saints “Oh, come on Mikel. You have a jewel of a goalscorer who is athletic, not easily knocked off the ball, and as keen as mustard”.

    In our last 2 Premier League games he could have made all the difference to the result, because youth knows no fear, and a quality player without fear is what we are crying out for.

    I do not have a lot of time for those who are consistently negative about my Arsenal, even when they are struggling for confidence, but …… the shocking results we have had at home lately seems to have fallen heavily on Mikel, and like most managers in those circumstances he has retreated into ‘defend and hope’.

    He has to think ‘big’ he has to at least copy Moanhio and set up defensively, and catch teams on the counter. Except that won’t work with forwards who are shell shocked and who find even tap-ins difficult.

    Arteta has to make use of some of the kids who are quite brilliant, outside of those who are now struggling in the doldrums with the senior players.
    Bring on Balogun — bring on Azeez. Too young? Nonsense. The old adage is true if a player is good enough, they are old enough and those two are both good enough and old enough so bring them on to give the team, the fans and yourself the boost we all need.

    You know I am right Mikel. ๐Ÿ˜ ๐Ÿ‘

  • Do we not have a player on our books who can do what you say we need?

    Unfortunately, the powers that be have decided not to include him in the squad.

    However, perhaps you are another of those who believe he is lazy or allegedly commits the crime of not coming back to help the defence or are simply jealous of his contractual salary.

    Would you not agree that his absence has resulted in a total loss of creativity and the drying up of the supply to Auba and the other strikers, which has resulted in their inability to get shots let alone score.

    So in January we will spend a vast amount bringing in some midfielder who is not good enough for any of the top teams to even consider in the expectation that he will immediately click with the rest of the attack and the goals will pour in.

    Maybe yes, but more likely no.

    However the Exile would have a hell of a lot to prove if he was included in the squad in January, which could only be a positive step.

    For my part I would prefer a relative certainty than to rely on a hope.

  • TA, my friend, I just recalled of some Glic’s old comment and I have to say your idea of Mustafi as CF is the “Dutchest” idea ever. ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s the first idea that actually tastes like a cannabis cookie. ๐Ÿ˜€

  • Eris, you have been hard on Auba over the last few months and maybe you are right he his attitude and focus. I have to say he produced more TA sighs during the game than any other player.

    You are right re Leno and I reckon if we had a ‘Mustafi’ in attack whether we would win many more of those Leno-kick-out balls. At the moment it is hopeless.

  • It must be Xmas, already!!! ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜

    It is really wonderful to see the comments of my “long time no see” friends on BK, GN5, and jnyc a New Yorker, whom I have known for about as long as I have known you, Total.
    He has probably forgotten that I promised to try and meet up somewhere in Hell’s Kitchen (NY) on one of my trips back home – and still have never made it. But I will try and do so in 2021. ๐Ÿ˜œ

    Also, ‘Hi’ to Kev, good to see you — and I never knew Admir also knew the Gooner Lost In Cornwall, (Glic), who hasn’t used that title for many years, and is now known as the funniest and most incorrigible big blue bird in the whole of blogdom. ๐Ÿ˜ณ

    What a lovely present for me!! — Thank you guys. ๐Ÿ˜

  • Fine comment, RA.

    Balogun has also impressed me but I would need to see more of him to see whether he offers something different from the rest. He did seem to be comfortable with holding on to the ball in the box. Is he strong in the air?

    The Mustafi suggestion is of course tongue in cheek but not all the way. We need to give the defences something to think about both on the ground and in the air. I think there is actually a good footballer in Mustafi but not so in defence as he is prone to the occasional brain-fart, as we all know too well.

    So yes trying Balogun would work for me too. Playing two out three – let alone three out of three – of Auba, Laca and Eddie should be a thing of the past.

  • jjgsol, you and i don’t know what is going on with Ozil. It is a black box. If Arteta has decided to leave him out on his own account then I would trust that, as I see him as fair and consistent. Maybe the club have decided that Mesut should not play anymore. We just don’t know. The ship has sailed. But I am less worried about the nr10 position than about theCF position as per my post.

  • Admir, there is no doubt that Ajax could try something like I am suggesting, and maybe it is indeed down to the national level of weed in our blood. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I used Mustafi to highlight what a gap we have at the moment. Would I try Mustafi…. Pass the dutchie ‘pon the left hand side.. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Yes RA, the one and only J from NYC blogs here too and his analyses are a joy to read. There is plenty of fire in his belly but he comes up with some great, almost Socratic analyses that regularly blow me away.

  • Glic has posted here once or twice over recent years and is just always funny. Mad as a Cornwall box of frogs, though.
    But you knew that already. ๐Ÿ˜€

  • It is difficult, TA, as you have said re ร–zil, because we simply do not know what has really happened.

    I don’t believe Mikel has arbitrarily kicked him out of all the squads just for nothing, when we are desperate for a classy creative player — more to the point, I cannot believe Mikel would want to cut off his ear, a la Van Gogh, which would be akin to cutting out Mesut in a footballing context.

    As fans we just do not know, as you said.

    The “Cornwall box of frogs” is a superb analogy for our clever and funny friend. ๐Ÿ˜œ

  • TA,
    jnyc is a dyed in the wool Arsenal fan, and is really capable of top class comments and analyses – again as you have said.

    He is great to know!! ๐Ÿ˜

  • Mmmmmm, TA — that’s tricky — Well Mikel is well known as “Action Man” — perhaps he might have a thing for the only female ‘Action’ character – Natalie.

    [I had to look that up!! I never had an Action Woman myself.] ๐Ÿคช

  • TA,

    You might have seen my comment on AA regarding Balogun, as I have always been impressed by him.

    I was delighted to see him get minutes in the EL, (in effectively the 2nd team) and I think he will bring something worthwhile to the Premier League if he gets the chance.
    But I did add that it would be important he should come off the bench in his first season, so he can come on if goals are needed.

    He, Saka and Martinelli could be a great trio, and change our hopes.

    {I also mentioned Azeez — he is not so well known — but watch out for him, he is going to be a top player in the future.}

  • Hi Red, good to see you still mooching about the Arsenal Bloghood with the rest of us.
    Youโ€™ll enjoy it on here, itโ€™s a safe haven away from all the online lunacy that is the social media world of late.

  • Morning all,

    It’s good to see RA so involved in the comments – it’s great to hear from you again.

    We are still missing your predictions for this weekend.

    RA – anybody can join in it’s very simple H = home win. A = away win, D = draw
    1 point for each correct prediction and a bonus of 4 points to the person with the most points.
    Southampton v Manchester City
    Everton v Arsenal
    Newcastle v Fulham
    Tottenham v Leicester
    Manchester United v Leeds
    Barcelona v Valencia

  • Thanks for that read by Guillem Balague. Folks need to realize that things are stable inside the club. That there is a longer-term perspective at play. Odds are stacked against Arteta at present– as they would be for anyone else that walked in his shoes.

    Balague made a point that echoed one of my thoughts from several days back. That Arteta finds himself in the one situation which his experience and pedigree cannot address. He lacks that voice of a ‘King’s Right Hand’– to let him know what is necessary in this position. Someone who is also present day-to-day and knows the players well too.

    There’s been little that’s escaped the training ground or dressing room– in terms of negativity. That’s a good sign that the manager and players are still all pulling in the same direction. Tomorrow’s match is no more important than the last or the next. Mikel needs to become a bit less conservative in selecting his XI (though the #20 idea even too far fetched for me ๐Ÿ™„).

    Keep the faith.


  • Hi GN5 and Kev, ๐Ÿ˜

    The pressure is on for me to complete my contract before Xmas, so I cannot stay out any longer playing with you guys, as I got carried away earlier just enjoying myself on BK.

    Will be back playing again, soon. Bye for now. ๐Ÿคช

  • Thanks, TA for responding to GN5, re my predictions post.

    On topic of a new CF, maybe we do need one; maybe not, if we can return to playing as a unit that defends together and attacks together, ball zipping all over the turf. If we must persist with crosses and long balls from the goal kicks, then we require someone who isnโ€™t afraid to go for headers. Heck, we can have a signal for one of the CBs to go forward whenever the option is to play it long. Win the ball, or hold it up for others to come on, with a midfielder covering for him in defence, then return to position as the play goes on. If it is well rehearsed, it can be flawless. We must play to the strengths of the players we have and canโ€™t keep going long and making crosses unless Laca and Auba can win a few.

    Everton Away will be hard, but it is the kind of game you win to get your confidence back. It will be a turning point if Arteta can pull it off with a change in approach. Play deep and hit on the counter or match them toe to toe, press high, force mistakes and take advantage. We arenโ€™t in a state of mind to pull off the latter, so counter attack, it is. Arteta must loosen the pedantic, constitutional approach and allow the players express themselves if they are up to it.

  • Cheers Eris, I agree with a lot you are saying. The question is really whether the attacking player we are currently using have the necessary skills to make the attack work. It looks we have too many rooks and not enough knights on the chess board, or the other way around so to speak.

  • Eris, TA–
    Martinelli starts for the U23s tonight vs Leicester. Live on Arsenal.com.
    That’s some very welcome news.


  • Hi Eris

    Pony Eye has got back to me and I have forwarded his details to the email address you are using to blog on Bergkampesque. Please let me know whether that is the correct email address for you?

  • Agreed with everything in the article, right up until the hilarious ending, which is both satire but also a “why not” at this point.

    I think the overarching point about our three senior STs is that they all rely on service to score goals, service that we aren’t currently providing them with because of 1) the formation and 2) lack of personnel. We don’t have the type of all around ST that can both create for themselves and for others at the same time (maybe Martinelli but he’s just returning from injury or maybe Balogun but he’s 19 and I doubt Arteta will play him in the league until his contract is sorted).

    Our issues with #1 and 2 above are all interconnected. We can’t play with a three man midfield because Partey is injured and we lack an alternative DM that can break up attacks, has the pace to recover and shield the back four. So, Arteta plays a 3-4-3, which is supposed to add defensive structure, but comes at the cost of being able to play a #10 in the side.

    Without a #10 in the side, there’s more pressure to create from wide and a lot of the chances we create come from crosses and situations that our players are either not good at finishing or don’t naturally make the runs for (lofted crosses, cutbacks, low and fast driven crosses etc.).

    Essentially, we are team with some talented individuals that don’t all fit a particular system or playing style of any sort. This is the problem when your recruitment strategy constantly changes and there’s no defined consistency in your Managers’ playing styles over that period.

  • Arsenal U23 has just finished its game against Leicester U23.
    The result was 2:1, thus extending our winning streak to 4 consecutive games.
    Chambers and Mari played, as I understood both 90 minutes. Calum opened the account and Mari was booked (but neither necessary indicate their quality of pay.)
    Nevertheless Balogun was also involved for the full game – as the captain, scoring the decisive goal – so we will definitely not see him tomorrow. The fans hope that Martinelli and Smith-Rowe could appear as neither were in the team tonight, not even on the bench. Yet, I don’t think we’ll see any of them on the pitch. Martinelli is not yet match fit, and Arteta is better known to be a conservative coach than to give the chance to Emile if he has Ceballos, Elneny, AMN plus Willock as midfield options and Saka, Willian, Pepe plus Nelson for the wing or attacking midfield.
    The U23 had a terrible start of the season, many demanded Bould to be removed from the coaching position (I still do), but at least they go into the winter break on the high, with 4 wins in a row.

  • Yeah, apologies for the Martinelli shout out. From a source I normally find trustworthy.


  • PB, I think weโ€™ll have the 9 subs at Goodson Park so enough spots for Arteta to not only be his usual conservative but to also be a tad more adventurous. Martinelli and Smith Rowe on the bench is a real possibility itโ€™s just such a shame we havenโ€™t got the 5 subs….

  • Kev, as much as I would like to see Martinelli make the bench, I have reservations that heโ€™s ready. He was huffing and puffing after 45 mins in the U21 game and subsequently subbed off, but since he didnโ€™t play for the U23s, thereโ€™s a chance!

  • Good to see u23 back in winning ways.

    We need our first team players to start their winning streak one game at a time, failing which we need to play the youngsters who are more willing to play to Mikel’s strengths.

  • Since we have 9 subs there is the theoretical possibility that Martinelli or Smith-Rowe would be nominated (but Catalin Cirjan could also sit on the bench as hit didn’t feature against Leicester U23 nor Rotherham United). But even so, I don’t think they would join the pitch.
    We currently have an unreasonably high 31 players in the first team.
    – Partey is injured, that leaves 30
    – Xhaka and Gabriel are suspended, hence they cannot feature, so there is only 28 eligible
    – Well, Ozil is not nominated on the PL-list, so the literally eligible number is 27
    – Saliba, Chambers and Mari played last night, so the fit headcount is 24
    – We need only 1 GK on the bench, that leaves Macy out, still 23 remains

    Out of this 23 we will see 20 tonight, 11 in the starting line-up and 9 on the bench.
    Sokratis is basically an outcast (another example of our selling/loaning processes are not worthy to this level), and there is a question-mark whether Martinelli (coming back from a long injury) as well as Kolasinac, Nelson, Luiz (coming back from recent, short injuries) are match fit already.
    So practically anyone can make the bench, but I expect the 2 attackers from the 5 (Laca, Auba, Willian, Pepe, Nketiah) that won’t start would later come to the rescue, as well es 1 from Ceballos, AMN, Elneny and Willock (maybe Soares too?).
    So my money is on neither ESR nor Martinelli getting minutes tonight. But – as TA can attest – on this blog I enjoy being proven wrong.

  • Good breakdown there, PB. You make it easier to see what we truly have on offer for the game today. From the look of things, Arteta did sound unusually excited about Martinelli so thereโ€™s a good chance he will be on the bench and, maybe, have a late cameo. I saw a training video and he looked energetic enough.

    Mustafi was at Everton in his early sojourn in the UK and has always had steady games against them. Maybe, he starts today, alongside Luis and Tierney in a back 3. Unless Arteta chooses to be pragmatic and pick the right back based on form, Bellerin may return. My concern is Iwobi would be happy to come up against him where AMN would match Iwobi on every front.

    Upfront, I think Willian will return for Pepe and it may be him, Laca and Auba in a front 3. Saka and Bellerin as wing backs. Ceballos and Elneny in the middle. Thatโ€™s the 10 outfield players I expect to start tonight. Leno is No. 1 now, anyway.

  • TA, thanks for the heads-up on PE. I saw your mail and have responded. Already made the connection to him too. Cheers.

  • Thanks guys. Great info for a quick preview I hope to write early afternoon.

    Good stuff Eris. PE is a man on a mission at the moment and he is being missed on the blog, but good of you to reach out to him.

  • Good Morning, BK’ers All, ๐Ÿ˜

    Just had another cup of coffee, had a quick squint at someone’s paper, and lo and behold, I saw a headline for my favourite person, none other than Moanhio.

    The gist of that article was “another sly dig at Klop” — because he won an award and that awful egotist didn’t.

    If Arsenal ever signed that dreadful man as manager, I would just leave until the inevitable happened and he got sacked for upsetting the players and the fans.

    Sorry, if I spoiled the moment – but my views on that guy are sclerotic and will never change.

    Thank goodness for the decent man in Arteta that we have as manager, prepared to stand or fall on his own merits/achievements, rather than find faults with everyone else.

    Time for another cup of coffee!! ๐Ÿ˜

  • Yeah, I get that HH, tbh Iโ€™d rather see Balogun on the bench but itโ€™s not looking too positive with him Iโ€™m afraid, I fear that we could lose him.

    If Martinelli got on the bench then I doubt that weโ€™d see more than 15 minutes max from him, maybe less? Itโ€™s great for him psychologically though, the involvement, the buzz from being around the team again. In an ideal world we wonโ€™t need him…

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