Clock ticking as Gunners’ striker paucity clear

Leicester 1 Arsenal 1

Clock ticking as Gunners’ striker paucity clear

“Sign a f***ing striker” they howled, and it was hard not to have some sympathy for them.

With one day remaining in the transfer window, there is a real fear among Arsenal fans that their title challenge will be over before it has even begun, unless Arsene Wenger signs a forward to give them a genuine cutting edge.

This damaging draw at Leicester cannot be blamed entirely on Sanogo of course, but the frustration supporters feel is clear.

With Olivier Giroud out until the turn of the year with a fractured tibia, Arsenal are missing their focal point. To think that Sanogo and his raw potential can bridge that gap is questionable, to say the least.

The day had begun with reports that Arsenal were going to rival Chelsea for the signature of Loic Remy, but the reality was rather different.

Arsenal did place a phone call to QPR on Saturday to ascertain exactly what Remy’s situation was, but they swiftly decided not to follow up with an official bid — particularly when news of that contact was leaked.

If Wenger had wanted to buy Remy he could have done so at any point during the summer, and many supporters will ask why he didn’t — especially after the news of Giroud’s injury.

So Wenger will persist with Sanogo, or Lukas Podolski, the returning Theo Walcott or Alexis Sanchez, none of whom are particularly suited to being a lone front man.

For a side that has improved so much and is so close to being the real deal, Wenger’s decision not to strengthen such an obvious weakness seems baffling, and he hinted he may still attempt to address the imbalance today.

“We are very active, we are trying but every time you don’t win a game, the solution is not to buy a player,” he said.

“We are out there and we try our best, you have to trust us to buy the best possible solution but as well every time you don’t win a game, [people] think there’s a miracle man.

“Why did Man City not win the game against Stoke? They have plenty of strikers, football is a team sport and we have not got to sell it as an individual sport.

“I don’t know [if he will sign anyone] because it doesn’t depend only on me. Could we win the game today without anybody [new signings], yes. We have plenty of strikers, even when we had Giroud.”

Around €75m has been spent on Sanchez, Calum Chambers, Mathieu Debuchy and Diego Ospina, but the same amount remains in the coffers. Wenger has money but will not spend for the sake of it.

That being said, Arsenal’s travails should take nothing away from Leicester. Nigel Pearson’s side were quick and incisive, and it was not difficult to understand why the manager declared he was “disappointed not to win”.

With goalscorer Leonardo Ulloa providing an incisive cutting edge, there are surely three poorer sides than them in the division.

Leicester had started brightly, with Jeff Schlupp and Riyad Mahrez hurting Arsenal with their pace and directness.

Then, rather against the run of play, Arsenal took the lead. Sanogo will be credited with the assist but his attempt to convert Santi Cazorla’s chipped pass was poor as he failed to attack the ball with any conviction.

As it was his effort squirmed through to Alexis Sanchez, who had the simple task of firing home.

The lead lasted two minutes. Laurent Koscielny had just returned to the pitch after suffering a head injury and still seemed groggy as he allowed Ulloa all the time and space he needed to power home a fine header from Schlupp’s excellent cross.

Both teams attacked at will after that but Leicester were the more incisive and had the best chance as Ulloa easily cut inside Chambers before finding the side netting. He should have scored.

At the other end, Sanogo shot straight at Kasper Schmeichel when clean through and headed a difficult chance over.

When Aaron Ramsey headed weakly at the goalkeeper rather than squaring to Sanogo, for what would have been a simple tap-in, Sanogo must have known it wouldn’t be his day.

He was hauled off shortly afterwards and replaced by Lukas Podolski — a penny for his thoughts on not being trusted to start this game, by the way — and immediately after that, Mesut Ozil went down clutching his ankle.

Leicester could have won it with Szczesny saving well from Jamie Vardy. Defeat would not have been unfair on Arsenal. Their supporters will hope Wenger has something up his sleeve today.

LEICESTER: Schmeichel 7, De Laet 7, Morgan 8, Moore 8, Konchesky 7, Mahrez 7 (Albrighton, 64; 6), Hammond 7, King 7, Schlupp 7 (Vardy, 70; 7), Ulloa 8 (Drinkwater, 76; 6), Nugent 7.

ARSENAL: Szczesny 7, Debuchy 7, Mertesacker 6, Koscielny 5, Monreal 7, Ramsey 6, Flamini 7, Sanchez 7, Ozil 5, Cazorla 6 (Oxlade-Chamberlain, 77; 7), Sanogo 5 (Podolski, 77; 6).

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