“Arsenal’s Biggest Problem: Depth in Attack”

By on October 7, 2009

Robin van Persie goal Fulham

I have found that listening to most podcasts is not good for my health, especially my blood pressure. With very few exceptions, most notably the Guardian’s fantastic Football Weekly, the drivel spewed forth in these little mp3s is enough to make one scratch their eyes out. None more so at times than the BBC’s 606.

In the past two weekends, new co-host, Gabrielle Marcotti, a so-called football pundit, has spouted a ridiculous analysis of the Arsenal side made even more so when you consider that the man is paid to watch, write, and talk about football for a living. Listen here to a brief clip of Marcotti talking about Arsenal’s major flaw (and, no, it’s not the defense):

Gabrielle Marcotti on Arsenal’s biggest problem

“If van Persie is fit for the entire season, that means you’ve got a real top drawer center-forward. If van Persie goes missing for a long stretch of time, then I don’t think that there is a natural center-forward who can replace him.”

Come on, Gab, you can’t be serious. If you listen further, you will hear him say how our only genuine forward is Nicklas Bendtner. I will now give you a minute to calm down after laughing hysterically…

Carlos VelaOkay, we’re back. First of all, to call van Persie “a natural center-forward” makes me question how much Marcotti has actually seen of him. van Persie has never been a classic center-forward and, up until this season, almost always played off the main striker. That is why when we played 4-5-1 in the last two years, van Persie tended to be on the bench because Adebayor played in the center. And for Holland, van Persie has played wide right far more than he’s been played down the center.

Even in this 4-3-3, van Persie’s role is hardly that of a true center-forward, even if that is where the little circle with his number shows him in the pre-match lineups on the television. The main difference in van Persie’s role on the pitch between this season’s 4-3-3 and the 4-4-2 of seasons past is the positioning of the players up top with him. That is the adjustment he needed to make; it wasn’t so much in his own game but in how he could better integrate those around him coming in from the wings,  rather than having a striker just off of him.

The second part of his claim is that Arsenal have no other “natural center-forward” to replace van Persie if he gets injured. He concedes that we have Bendtner but says that Bendtner has played on the right this season. That’s true, but does he think Wenger would not move him back into his natural position if van Persie was injured? Especially considering the wealth of options we have to deploy on that right side if Bendtner moved to the middle including Walcott?

I also wonder if Marcotti has ever heard of a guy named Eduardo. Eduardo is far more a “natural center-forward” than van Persie is.  Don’t tell me the media has already forgotten about Eduardo just over a month after turning him into British football’s public enemy number one. We also have Carlos Vela whose natural position is as a central striker and can hold the ball up outside the box to bring the wingers deeper into the attack much like van Persie has this season.

And then, if you can stand listening until the very end, you will hear him say this is all a problem because we have not replaced Adebayor. WeEduardo lead the league in goals scored, for fuck’s sake, and have a game-in-hand. What more can we do? Have we not shown that we do not need Adebayor and that we certainly don’t miss him?

He seems to be implying that Arsenal have a problem with depth up top. But we all know that we are deeper up top than anywhere else on the pitch and possibly deeper there than all the other big 4 clubs. On Sunday, we had Walcott and Bendtner on the bench and in another few weeks we could have also had Vela and Nasri there as well. How anyone can question our depth there is absolutely beyond me, let alone a “professional.”

His lack of knowledge of the Arsenal squad is appalling for someone who, unlike all of us, actually gets paid to watch the game. And it’s not as though he made a mistake. This was the second week in a row where he continued to put forth his “analysis” of Arsenal’s biggest problem, depth in attack. Marcotti’s comments were so nonsensical that I can’t tell if he is lazy or ignorant, or both.



  1. Tom14

    October 7, 2009 at 9:37 am

    I would agree, but van Persie is as close to a center forward as you will ever get.

    • ArsenalStation

      October 7, 2009 at 10:20 am

      He’s being played in that role now but he has been a support striker for most of his career.

      • Tom14

        October 7, 2009 at 10:25 am

        I beg to differ. He is talented, no doubt, but he has pretty much always been the figurehead of our attack when he has played. Remember a few years back, when Ade had just signed. He played right up top, with Ade supporting him. He scored about 14 goals in half a year, and was injured around Christmas.

        He has the typical attributes of a striker, but he also has a decent ability (compared to many “center forwards”) with his back to goal, but I would never play him in the Bergkamp role, he is nowhere good enough there.

        • ArsenalStation

          October 7, 2009 at 10:30 am

          Perhaps I shouldn’t have said “support” striker, in the Bergkamp sense, but rather second striker. For the last 3 1/2 seasons he has played mostly as the second striker in a 4-4-2 which allowed him a bit of license to come high or wide.

  2. td

    October 7, 2009 at 9:42 am

    It’s funny, because i always had him down as quite a perceptive guy.

    • ArsenalStation

      October 7, 2009 at 10:20 am

      So did I. He still is on a lot of stuff, except Arsenal, but sometimes he sees the game in a strange way.

  3. vince

    October 7, 2009 at 9:44 am

    Players who can play as Striker:

    Vela, Bendtner, Eduardo, Van Persie, Walcott

    Players who can play as Second Striker (Forward):

    Van Persie, Arshavin, Rosicky, arguably Nasri, Wilshere and Diaby (although I’d disagree with Diaby)

    Players who can play as the two “Forward Wingers” in the 4-3-3 system:

    Van Persie, Eduardo, Arshavin, Bendtner, Walcott, Rosicky, Nasri, Eboue, Vela, Merida, Wilshere and Diaby has played there even though I wouldn’t play him on the wings.

    Yes, we are REALLY IN TROUBLE UP FRONT GABRIELLE. You wonder how these clowns get a job in journalism sometimes. Cascarino and Collymore are by far the worst at “Arsenal baiting” though.

    • BRIAN

      October 7, 2009 at 10:02 am

      totally agree with you especially about cascarino

  4. dandan

    October 7, 2009 at 9:47 am

    Marcotti has become the latest BBC rent a pundit and keeps regurgitating this stuff add nausea all over five live

  5. dandan

    October 7, 2009 at 9:50 am

    Oh please lets not even mention Collywobbles he is to ridiculous for wast words on.

  6. Jim

    October 7, 2009 at 9:50 am

    after watching RVP at the weekend, Im starting to change my mind about him.

    He is finally learning to play as a CF.

    • Tom14

      October 7, 2009 at 10:16 am

      He has been a center forward (if we want to call it that) for a very long time, just confused as a second striker because of his fascination with dropping back (even though he is not that good at that sort of stuff)

      His real strengths are what you would expect from a proper striker.

    • ArsenalStation

      October 7, 2009 at 10:22 am

      But really he does do many of the same things he did as a second striker in the 4-4-2. I think that he’s being forced to learn to switch his game up. And having him around the goal rather than always dropping back means more worries for the center backs and makes things dicey for defenses when Arshavin and Rosicky, or whoever is on the right, cut in.

      • Tom14

        October 7, 2009 at 10:27 am


        Both of these are video’s I made of van Persie – the vast majority of his goals are that of a typical striker. He has always liked to drop back, but that does not suit his game i my opinion.

        Look at his last three goals – all proper strikers would score them.

        • ArsenalStation

          October 7, 2009 at 10:32 am

          No one is saying he’s not a striker… but there is different connotation to Marcotti’s phrase “natural center-forward.” That implies a classic number 9 type of player.

          • Tom14

            October 7, 2009 at 10:50 am

            Well, my post is really challenging the term “center forward” rather than arguing what van Perse is.

            Who are you, myself or anyone to say he is not a center forward? What is a center forward? Just because he is not Kevin Davies, you cannot say he does not play like a typical striker.

            (in response to your comment on the other post) He has never really played as the “support striker” apart from a few games with Thierry Henry. Eduardo and Adebayor both played “off” him (so to speak) with van Persie leading the line.

            To be honest, there are not many games where van Persie has played in a 442.

            His tendency to drop off and his clear skill has made sure he is labeled as a “second striker” like Bergkamp (no doubt his Dutch connection didn’t help) but if you observe his game, what he can do, he very much suits the role as the spearhead in a 4411, 451 or 433. Look back at the Ajax friendly many moons ago – the first example of this – and he was excellent.

  7. Harold

    October 7, 2009 at 9:54 am

    Much as u are right, contrary to what most Arsenal bloggers tend to think, Van persie is a more clinical striker than Eduardo. Not taking anything away from Eduardo. Bur the way Arsenal is playing , any striker will do.. That being said Van Persie is the best Arsenal has

    • ArsenalStation

      October 7, 2009 at 10:23 am

      I would have to disagree with that first statement. Eduardo is the most clinical striker we have. Perhaps one of the most clinical finishers in the league. Were Eduardo to get a full run of matches through an entire season, I believe you’d see him score 25 goals easy.

      • Harold

        October 8, 2009 at 6:48 am

        Yes and thats what everyone is basing on hypothesis,If If and more ifs..van Persie stats are better ratio wise as compared to Eduardos and this is looking at his carreer. Internationally Van persie has proven a better clinical striker than Eduardo, so my prognosis is based on facts and not If Eduardo was fit

        • ArsenalStation

          October 8, 2009 at 7:59 am

          On the international level, they most certainly are not. Eduardo has 16 goals in 27 appearances for Croatia (1 goal every 1.69 matches) and van Persie has 14 in 40 appearances (one goal every 2.9 matches).

  8. bobbygee

    October 7, 2009 at 10:06 am

    Pundits never know what they are talking about. Arsenal needs to work on finishing. This is their problem. They had trouble against Man U. The Gunners had trouble in the Champions League game on the road.

    • ArsenalStation

      October 7, 2009 at 10:24 am

      We scored 3 goals in that away CL match though. Yes, we had trouble at ManU but it seems a bit crazy to say that the team that is leading the league in goals scored needs to work on their finishing. I think our finishing is one of the biggest differences over last season.

  9. kk

    October 7, 2009 at 10:12 am

    Marcotti’s comments were so nonsensical that I can’t tell if he is lazy or ignorant, or both. NO, HIS JUST STUPID

  10. Ben

    October 7, 2009 at 10:23 am

    I really don’t understand how this idiot can forget Eduardo plays for Arsenal, the guy’s a fucking goal machine. You only have to look at his record.

    • ArsenalStation

      October 7, 2009 at 10:25 am

      Exactly, Ben.

  11. Ted

    October 7, 2009 at 10:50 am

    Everyone forgot to mention putting Vermaelen in at center forward…(lol).

  12. rayman

    October 7, 2009 at 11:08 am

    I have heard marcotti on the radio he sounds a bit half informed on most things. I think he is fairly smart but just doesn’t have the depth of knowledge. And seems to have a complete blank about our squad. Probaly why he fails to understand why we are not that bothered about rvp getting injured. Well, not as bothered as liverpool would be if torres got crocked, utd would be if they lost rooney or chelsea would be about drogba.

    Only City can match our depth up front, he doesn’t seem to get that at all. Nik and Eddy can easily stand in for RVP (not convinced Vela can play CF against good Premiership sides yet, hope he prves me wrong soon in the CC). And thats not even accounting for the possibility of changing formation to match who is fit – we are far from dependant on RVP.

    I remember not so long ago freddie had to stand in as CF for us for a while. We have come a long way since then, we much more strength in depth up front now (pity we can’t say the same about CB).

  13. Ian

    October 7, 2009 at 11:10 am

    No way is van persie more clinical then eduardo. van persie is definitley the better all round player, but there really aren’t many players in world football more clinical than eddy, fact. His record speaks for itself

  14. chaani

    October 7, 2009 at 11:13 am

    james Lawton also thinks we need a striker in the mould of Adebayor, though we have scored so many goals

    • vince

      October 7, 2009 at 2:00 pm

      and man united need a player in ronaldo’s mould,liverpool in alonso’s mould and inter in ibrahimovich’s mould.

      it’s just the same old media cliche bollocks they spew year after year because they make money from scaremongering.

  15. Paulinho

    October 7, 2009 at 11:16 am

    Totally agree mate. Marcotti, and Paul Merson, do my head in listening to them euologising about Van Persie as some sort of saviour, completely forgetting we have top draw centre forwards like Eduardo and Vela waiting in the wings.

    It’s incredible how stupid they are. The most important players in our side our Fabregas, Arshavin, Rosicky. They make the magic happen.

  16. olumoroti

    October 7, 2009 at 11:32 am

    Offencively,i think we are the best in england if not the best in europe when you look at the array of talent we have from midfield to attack,but defencively,from the defencive midfield to CB position i think we are a bit short .personally i’ll like wenger to go for a DM to back up song and a CB in january.

  17. Pingback: “Arsenal's Biggest Problem: Depth in Attack” « Arsenal Station | Soccer Yahoo !

  18. Eric

    October 7, 2009 at 11:38 am

    Marcotti’s problem is that he is and has always been anti Wenger, he has never gotten over bringing Vieira to Arsenal from Italy and exposing their coaches lack of foresight. For years he argued on talksport with the other genius pundit Adrian Durham that David Trezeguet was a better striker than Henry. Tom14, I think you are wrong, VP is not yet a lead the line or main striker, Arsene is working on him, he will evolve into a monster with his strengths greatly enhanced, but in that role he is still a work in progress.

  19. osi

    October 7, 2009 at 12:23 pm

    This is a good article. A lot of so called pundits such as Marcotti, cascarino, collymore, Rednap and others are stupid people who because of their background got into the punditry. I don’t think they differentiate between criticising and critiquing. The job of the pundit should a critical one based on good analysis and looking things from multiple perspectives. If one defines ‘centre-forward’ as someone with limited skills, except those related to scoring goals, who stays in the penalty area all the time and being flagged offiside half of the game, then Marcotti and his friends maybe right in saying Arsenal don’t have one.

    However, the writer of this article have a broader definition for ‘centre-forward’ and it’s the one modern football is based on. A good ‘centre-forward’ would someone with different skills, who can do other things to help his team and who can score goals. It’s in this category that Van P is included.

    When Marcotti forgets to include in his definition Eduardo he’s completely wrong and delusional because Eduardo is typical ‘centre-forward’ and his finishing is much better than a lot of the ones Marcotti rates.

    If he thinks Arsenal lack depth in attack and don’t have what he calles ‘centre-forward’, then What about ManU who don’t have anyone that fit his category except the unfit and not inform Owen. Does Rooney fit into his category? That guy needs to be asked questions and see how asnwers them. He’s simply a no good pundit and still working as pundit; a role in which he doesn’t fit.

    • ArsenalStation

      October 7, 2009 at 12:47 pm

      Well said, Osi. The way he talks about van Persie is as if he’s some kind of classic number 9. He’s not that at all. Eduardo is actually far closer to that type of player than van Persie.

      • Tom14

        October 7, 2009 at 2:38 pm

        Nope, Eduardo always drops off. van Persie is best suited to the exact role he is currently playing.

  20. ClockEndRider

    October 7, 2009 at 12:49 pm

    Let us grow up and move away from the assumption that because someone has a platform on the media, they have the first idea of what they’re writing about. If that was the case, that idiot Bose would never have been Sports Editor of the BBC . Before he was found out for being the talentless, agenda-bound chalatan that he is….

    • ArsenalStation

      October 7, 2009 at 10:54 pm

      The thing is CER, that these people are PAID to watch, THINK, write, and talk about the game. You would think a guy who doesn’t have to do anything but watch football would at least know who’s on Arsenal’s bench. I just get so fed up with these talking heads and sometimes I use the blog to call them out. You guys should know that the English football media and Arsenal Station do not mix well together. ;) Thanks to all you guys for reading and especially commenting.

  21. jonqueue

    October 7, 2009 at 1:22 pm

    VP is more clinical than eduardo???

    Put down the cool-aid, mate!! He is the most clinical finisher we have. i personally think his only rival is drogba, Adebayor, rooney, tevez,just cant turn in half chances the way he does. That said, we have sufficient depth upfront. we just need the backlioe to close up more tightly. We’re definitely the most lively team going forward.

  22. aM

    October 7, 2009 at 1:24 pm

    What do Marcotti, Cascarino and Collymore have in Common?

    All workder on Talk shite with Adrian Durham.

    Surprised the British Broadcasting Cunts are paying that fat idiot out of our tax payers money.

  23. ArsenalStation

    October 8, 2009 at 7:31 pm

    At least no one just read the title, didn’t bother to read the article, and then made a long post telling me how I was wrong that Arsenal have no depth in attack. I would’ve guaranteed at least one of those.

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