Winterburn: Center forward should be Arsenal's main objective

The former Gunners defender, who made more than 400 appearances for the club, believes Arsene Wenger needs more options in attack.
By John Stammers

Arsenal legend Nigel Winterburn believes Arsene Wenger should sign a striker in January in order to ease the pressure on Olivier Giroud.

The France international, who has started all of Arsenal's Premier League matches this season, struggled to influence the Gunners' 1-0 defeat to Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday,

Winterburn acknowledged Wenger's attacking options will be bolstered when Lukas Podolski and Theo Walcott return from injury but feels it is important for the club to sign another striker who offers similar attributes to Giroud.

"One key area which I think everyone is debating is the center forward role," the 49-year-old told Goal. "Giroud is having to do a lot of work, without a rest, so it's hard work for him. I would like to think that they may try and bring someone in, whether that will be a permanent signing or a loan signing."

The former defender said even with players set to return from injury, a center forward would be a shrewd signing.

"If you get the likes of Walcott back, Podolski back, then the bench is looking completely different. You've got a lot more midfield and attacking options," he said. "I don't know if Wenger's thinking about [them] coming back, and if they can fill that role, but they are completely different to Giroud.

"The way Arsenal play you need that good link-up striker. I just feel that a center forward would be the main objective for Arsenal, to cover Giroud if he loses a bit of form or gets fatigued. I think that's very important."

Following Sunday's loss to the Premier League champions, Winterburn admits his former side missed out on a great chance to extend their title push but believes the club can challenge this season.

"I think [Arsenal] will be very disappointed," he continued. "I think it was a fabulous opportunity for them. But then you can role reverse that and say it's not ben as costly as it could have been."

Winterburn found the match competitive and doesn't think the result should spur worry Arsenal will be knocked from its perch atop the league.

"The first half performance was very flat. United looked a little bit more eager in terms of  their willingness to work but I didn't think the first half was that great for either team. Then the set play just undid Arsenal. I think overall it shows there's not a great deal between the two teams," he said. "Obviously Arsenal would have liked to come away with at least a point, but I think when they reflect and look at it they will still be pretty satisfied with the way they have started the season.

"And if Manchester United are to be one of the title contenders then Arsene Wenger will believe his team should be around there, if you judge the teams on the two performances today."

When asked if Arsenal's season may dip following their second Premier League loss of the season, Winterburn replied: "I don't think so. They were on a good run last year and then lost to Villa, but they came back very strongly.

"The only thing you can say is that becuase Arsenal haven't been in a [title] challenging position for a while, people will say, 'We don't know whats going to happen with them.' Thats why there's doubt there.

"The signs I've seen so far this season have been very good and make me think they are going to be up and around the top. If Arsenal don't win their next game then people will start to doubt them. But at the moment I don't think there's any reason to do that."