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Amidst Arsenal's interest in the out of favour striker, Brendon Netto discusses why the London outfit would benefit from securing his services.

 Brendon Netto
 Comment | England
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Arsenal have already gone about clearing their wage bill in this month’s transfer window with fringe players like Marouane Chamakh and Johan Djourou being loaned until the end of the season while Sebastian Squillaci and Andrey Arshavin are also expected to leave the club sooner rather than later. These exits point to the fact that perhaps Arsene Wenger is ready to trade in these squad players in a bid to recruit some real quality and David Villa seems to be one of the foremost names on his shopping list.

The Barcelona striker has struggled for regular game time since his return to fitness at the start of this season having suffered a broken leg during the last campaign. Even though he has fully recovered, his stock seems to have plummeted under Tito Vilanova’s regime. It’s understood that the forward is looking for a move away from the Camp Nou with the Premier League touted to be his likely destination.

Out of favour at Barcelona

Summer additions Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud haven’t quite filled the void left by Robin Van Persie and although Villa’s signing wouldn’t necessarily serve to replace the Dutchman, it would restore a semblance of experience and clinical ability to Arsenal’s strike-force.

If Villa does decide to join Arsenal’s ranks, Theo Walcott’s role in the side will probably be the most affected. The English international has made no secret of his desire to feature as a central striker on a regular basis having decided that he has served his sentence as a wide player in Arsenal’s colours.

With Villa coming into the fray, Walcott would have to get his priorities in order. He would have to ask himself how important a center forward role is to him and whether it takes precedence over being successful with Arsenal (with the alternative being to seek success with a different club). Ultimately, although he has improved his finishing tremendously, you would expect Spain’s all-time leading goal scorer to be several notches above the Englishman in that department.

Despite his prolific form of late, you do expect him to struggle against the more uncompromising defenses. The likes of Reading and Newcastle United were far too naïve and lackadaisical in their approach to dealing with the pacey forward. If they did have a game plan to keep him shackled, it certainly didn’t show.

In form but not yet convincing

Better defenses certainly won’t allow Walcott that kind of freedom to run in behind them. He is yet to convince as a lone striker when he has a mean defense hassling him off the ball at every opportunity, denying him any time or space. Now you don’t always have to have strength to fend off that kind of challenge but you do at least need the intelligence, tactical nous and experience to find a way around it – attributes that Villa possesses in abundance.

In fact, playing in a slightly wider position but not necessarily hugging the touch-line may even benefit Walcott. Cutting in from the flanks, he can always catch out the central defender with a diagonal run on his blind side. It’s those runs between the full-back and centre-back that can be most devastating and he has the pace to execute them to perfection.

Villa’s versatility would allow him to swap positions with Walcott on the right or Podolski on the left, making the three nearly impossible to pick up. The fact that he can play anywhere across the front-line would also afford Wenger the opportunity to use different permutations in attack with Giroud, Alex-Oxlade Chamberlain and Gervinho also being involved which would keep their opponent’s guessing and allow for slight variations in the system.

His versatility offers Wenger options

While Podolski, Giroud and Walcott have all done reasonably well for Arsenal this season, Villa is far more technically proficient and compliments the style of play Wenger relentlessly seeks to employ. He’s someone who could be on the same wavelength as fellow Spanish international Santi Cazorla more often than not and the link-up play between the two should be top notch.

Not only is Villa Spain’s leading scorer but he can also boast a superior goals/game ratio than the likes of Raul Gonzalez, Fernando Torres and Fernando Morientes with 53 goals in 85 appearances – that in itself speaks volumes of his pedigree. He also has the ability to score some truly spectacular goals. He is by no means a ‘penalty box player’, he works hard for the team and his mobility enables him to run the channels well and draw defenders out.


"Villa is not only there to finish plays. Villa is synonymous with depth. It means always being ready to open passing lanes, to draw defenders and thus freeing up space for others."


- Johan Cruyff, three time Ballon d’Or winner

He can drop deep and drag defenders along with him while he is capable of playing in his team-mates as well. As far as the ground he covers and positions he takes up as the lone striker goes, he does resemble Liverpool’s Luis Suarez to a certain degree.

He can pull off the spectacular

Villa is just the kind of attacker Arsenal need when they require that bit of inspiration, he can produce moments of brilliance varying from a long-range belter to a little dink over the keeper. He can deliver that bit of class that Van Persie took along with him on his way out. At a reported valuation of around £15 million, he may be on the expensive side for a 31-year old but the quality and striking acumen he brings to the table is priceless. He could be the spark the Gunners need to fire themselves into a top four finish.

Would Villa fit in at Arsenal? Leave your comments below or discuss with the writer on Twitter @BrendonNetto.

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