They are both big six-foot plus, physical strikers charged with filling the role Arsene’s sides have never really filled since the days of Ian Wright. A focal point down the middle of the attack for all of the creative, sometimes over-fluid plays behind it.
Chamakh and Bendtner are both still much more liable to pull out into the wide positions on occasion than a traditional centre-forward but are certainly charged with the role down the middle. At times, mainly the Henry era, Arsenal have attempted to play without a standard striker, with great success.
On the other hand, the players brought in to fulfil that role have been less than successful, for example, Francis Jeffers.
So, which of these two current strikers will assert themselves as the big-game striker in the current Arsenal team?
Certainly Bendtner has never been the most prolific striker for Arsenal. The most goals he has scored in a season is nine in 2008-09. That’s only two less than he got in his full season on loan with Birmingham, so even a division below, he was not prolific. Although, I will admit in the game I saw him play live for Birmingham, he did look a class above everyone else on the pitch.
However, he is undoubtedly a hard worker and a nuisance for opposition centre-halves, making them more worried about him than that exceptional midfield and wide-men. Working exceptionally hard, ‘Sir Nick’, as a lot of Gooners I know are calling him, has certainly become something of a cult hero and has come back from injury looking very sharp this time around.
Meanwhile, Chamakh, despite averaging almost a goal every other game has not yet really stood out in an Arsenal shirt. The reason for this is that the majority of his six goals have come in the middle of routs, like the goals against Braga, Blackpool and Shakhtar. Only the winner against Birmingham being the difference in the game.
To compare him to another striker who came over to the Premiership from France at the same age as Chamakh, Didier Drogba struggled in his first season with Chelsea, scoring 10 in 26. Meaning Chamakh is on track to hit almost exactly the same. Season two, Drogba hit 20 goals in 36 games.
The crucial difference is to look at their record during their periods in France. In two Ligue 1 seasons, Drogba hit a goal every other game for Marseille and before that, Guingamp. Meanwhile, in seven seasons with Bordeaux, Chamakh never got close to that.
The truth is, if you mix the best parts of Bendtner and Chamakh, you get a Drogba clone, but separately they are both a fraction of that. I am certain Wenger is hoping that Chamakh will develop like Drogba did and be unplayable in a year’s time. However, I believe, in a big game, he sees Bendtner as the man for now, hoping that he can be surpassed by Chamakh next year.
I doubt Chamakh will ever achieve that.
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