On a wing and a prayer - Arsenal need a wing wizard

Watching the Arsenal TV channel lately, they often replay the clip of Thierry Henry running three quarters the length of the field to score against T*tt*nh*m a few years ago at Highbury.

 

It was poetry in motion and showed the sort of break-away skill we seem to lack thesedays.

 

Of course, players such as Thierry Henry come along once in a generation but there was something about Arsène Wenger’s teams which he needs to address – and fast.

 

We’ve spoken recently about the lack of midfield grit to protect the back four and allow the flair players to play.

 

But the lack of fast players is something which is stopping us playing the devastatingly fast attacking football that destroyed so many of our opponents.

 

Remember our winning goal against M*nure at Old Trafford which secured the title in 2002? It came from a fast breakaway with Freddie Ljungberg and Sylvain Wiltord combining to score.

 

So many times, Henry, Ljungberg, Wiltord, Marc Overmars, Nic Anelka and even the far from speedy Robert Pires would attack with conviction and speed, leaving half the opposing team in their wake as they scored before a defence could re-organise.

 

In Theo Walcott, we have one such player, and I hope his shoulder injuries are not to blight his career as they have done so far. He is growing into a fine player and worthy of an extended run and the praise that has been heaped on him.

 

But beyond him, especially with Samir Nasri also proving to struggle with regular niggles, we don’t have enough attacking wit or pace to attack with speed.

 

I fear that Tomas Rosicky, for all his talent, is always going to be injury prone. I was reminded yesterday that when he was first injured, Wenger suggested it would be days, not weeks, before he returned. That his injury has taken longer to recover from than the bone-cracking fate suffered by Eduardo says it all.

 

Rosicky has only played 44 Premiership games in three seasons. If he returns, we need to see it as a bonus, but Wenger must replace him with someone who has the pace he so admires and which scares defenders so much.

 

Jack Wilshere may be the long term answer, but until then, relying on the likes of Denilson or Abou Diaby to fill in on the wings is part of the reason why teams are pressing us back rather than the other way round.

 

Neither has the pace or directness necessary to be a winger in the style Wenger used to rely on – and revisiting that tried and tested tactic could make or break our season.