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Arsenal Special: Carlton Cole Could Be The Answer To Leading Questions

In Arsene, they trust.

But does that mean Arsenal fans can rely on the manager to sign the player the team needs most when the transfer window opens in January?

Or that the Frenchman - and the board - share their passion for success this season?

Arsene Wenger has, many times, expressed his feelings of conviction that Arsenal's unquestionably talented and beautifully coached squad have the potential to win a trophy this season. And, he has suggested, to win the Premier League and challenge for the Champions League.

So the big question now is: how much is the club prepared to spend in the transfer window to make that dream turn into a reality?

There is universal accord on the need for a striker to replace the injured Robin van Persie.

But there is little point in signing someone who is:  a) European Cup-tied; b) unsuitable for the physical nature of the English game; c) technically and tactically not developed to the standards required.

To this observer, that means pursuing and signing someone who is already a well-developed player, probably in his mid-twenties, established at international level and familiar with the pressures of challenging for success in a top domestic league and also playing for his country.

Cesc Fabregas and Andrey Arshavin have both, separately, said that the team needs a physical presence at centre-forward, with the Russian adding that the team, in general, lacks height.

"We had a lot of possession but didn't have anyone to go in behind the defence apart from Carlos Vela. We had lots of players who like the ball into their feet. Sometimes you need a different kind of option," said Fabregas, reflecting on the Gunners' loss at Manchester City. 

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The Spaniard added that he understood the value to a team of having a world-class target striker who scored goals following the home defeat by Chelsea when Didier Drogba demonstrated his powers so clearly.

He said: "I saw a Chelsea team that was normal, but a team that has probably the best striker in the world. An average team that has the best striker in the world can always do something - and Didier Drogba makes all the difference."

Since a bid for Drogba is realistically out of the question, as with a bid for most of the other top centre-forwards, Wenger is left in a quandary.

Arsenal need someone, essentially, who combines the best of Robin van Persie, Emmanuel Adebayor and Nicklas Bendtner - someone, too, who can walk into the team and perform immediately.

These appear to be the leading options available:

Carlton Cole (West Ham United) - currently injured, but likely to be fit and available in the New Year. A move to Arsenal for a good fee would suit all parties as the player could use the transfer to boost his bid for a place in the England World Cup squad.

Edin Dzeko (Wolfsburg) - admired by Wenger, but presumed to be too expensive; he is also European Cup-tied. Tall, skilful and a good scorer, he has the physique for the Premier League and good experience in Germany.

Marouane Chamakh (Bordeaux) - a proven scorer in the French League, but also European Cup-tied and a more risky proposition physically, as he lacks the hard experience required to be an instant hit. Plus Bordeaux have made clear they do not want to sell.

Ruud van Nistelrooy (Real Madrid) - dismissed already by Wenger, according to some reports, but a proven centre-forward and scorer whose style suggests he may slot in easily.

There are other names mentioned including Brazilians and Italians, but so far no firm favourite has emerged. Each of the four above has something to offer,  but Cole would probably be the best signing, in theory, as he provides physical qualities and alternatives that the current squad needs - and he also knows his way around the Premier League.

Tim Collings, UK