We knew the good times wouldn’t last long before an almighty obstacle thumped down in our way.
Our Premier League season so far has been way above our expectations and has given us all belief that the good times may well be rolling back to The Arsenal.
But the incongruously timed World Cup was always going to throw up some problems.
The fixture scheduling, for one.
And now we have Gabriel Jesus, the striker who has played a critical part in our rise up the Premier League table, recovering from a significant injury suffered while playing for Brazil.
Can Arsenal maintain their push toward the best league position in years?
Can we continue our tilt toward Europa League glory?
Here’s our options.
1 – Stick with Eddie and recall Balogun
Eddie has done all he can in order to impress Mikel and show him he’s ready to stand up and be counted as the main man up top. In 930 minutes of action – the majority of those as a substitute – Eddie has scored 5 and assisted 1.
Not figures to blow us away, but steady nonetheless. But it is his all-round display that has given us more cause for optimism.
Eddie has obviously taken a leaf from Jesus’ book. His closing down in the final third has improved dramatically and his contributions in and around the box have been defter and more savvy than before. We can put this down to being another year older, but Nketiah is certainly growing into a player we can depend on – and one who fits into our style of play, as opposed to being an old-fashioned Number 9.
And his turn and finish vs West Ham last week was cold. If higher-profile strikers had done it, you’d be watching it on highlight reels for weeks.
And then we have young Balogun. The striker was sent to Stade de Reims to show Arteta what he is capable of – and Balogun hasn’t disappointed. In amongst the likes of Messi, Mbappe and Jonathan David of Lille, Balogun sits on 10 goals, sitting 4th in the Ligue Un scoring charts.
Before you say it, yes, the quality of the mid-table and lower teams are of a lesser stature than those in the Premier League. But what we can say is that Balogun is doing exactly what he needs to, in order to stay in Arteta’s reckoning. and he’s doing it for a team that isn’t exactly resplendent in creativity.
By recalling Balogun and installing Eddie, we have two strikers of differing style which means we can switch it up. And with Jesus marked for a couple more months out, it means when he does return, there isn’t another player who will keep him on the bench. He can slot straight back in.
2 – We buy big.
We haven’t been a title contender for a long while. So why shouldn’t we spend big to maintain that push? This could be a chance we don’t get again for a while.
If that’s the case, why not prey on Juventus’ misfortune and put in a bid for Vlahovic?
Why can’t we go and sign a big name striker who can come in and propel us forward with the goals we need?
Yep, it does stunt the chances of both Eddie and Balogun, but it means we won’t suffer without Gabriel Jesus.
There’s always a third option.
We could put Martinelli up top, but then it means we’re a little light out wide.
It’s a tricky one. We all love our home-grown players, but the lure of a new signing and continuing our assault on the PL is a strong one.
What would you do?