The news surrounding Arsenal, Arsene Wenger, and the summer transfer market, was that of addressing the forward position. We all know how important Oliver Giroud is to the Arsenal movement, as the club has just given him an extension through 2018. He does need some help though, as Arsenal only have one other true striker, inexperienced Yaya Sanogo.
While Joel Campbell is back with the club after a few loan stints, Arsenal were undoubtedly going to add another forward this summer. Wenger has done just that, and in a shock move, acquired Chilean star Alexis Sanchez from Barcelona. Sanchez is not the out and out striker that fans were expecting though; playing more like a “False 9” role, and that may just be exactly what Arsenal need.
The “False 9” concept is one where a team uses their lone center forward in a deeper lying role, getting more involved in the midfield and the passing attack. The “False 9” forward is a creative one, dishing passes and then making smart runs into space to finish the play. Alexis Sanchez is known for being efficient at these qualities, and could play the position very well. Last season with Barcelona, Sanchez notched 19 goals and 10 assists in 27 caps. While the 19 goals are obviously great, the 10 assists really show how he could thrive in the “False 9” role.
Arsenal does possess a true striker in Giroud, whose physical hold up play is something that nobody else on the team can provide. Giroud also has a very efficient touch, and the ability to be heavily involved in some creating passing attacks, as displayed in the amazing goal by Jack Wilshere against Norwich. Giroud’s technical ability, as well as being a lethal finisher, would only help this system. Although I don’t believe Arsenal would play this formation with Giroud on the pitch, as he is most dangerous lurking in the penalty box, he does have some of the ability to thrive.
Joel Campbell is also somewhat of a “False 9” forward. He showed his talent getting into the play and making decisive passes, runs, and finishes, while playing for Costa Rica this past World Cup.
Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal is known for their passing style attack, building the play through their very talented midfield. This style is the obvious reason why the “False 9” concept could be very successful in North London. The list of stars in Arsenal’s midfield is almost ridiculous, as they have Mesut Oezil, Aaron Ramsey, Santi Cazorla, Jack Wilshere, Theo Walcott, and newly added Alexis Sanchez all under contract.
While a few of those players are interchangeable as strikers, there is no doubt that Arsenal possesses a ton of talent in the midfield. Among those stars, many of them are incredible visionaries, being able to string together the “ticky-tacky” passes that you are accustomed to seeing under Wenger.
If they use a deep lying striker to further help in the passing attack, it can create some great scoring opportunities in the final third, as the striker can run off into space opened by the passing. With the current squad that Wegner has, the “False 9” formation can open scoring chances that wouldn’t be there otherwise. Using this concept could ensure that Arsenal don’t need to add another forward, and that they can contend for the title with the “False 9” managing the front line.