The Gunners could look to add a striker to their ranks this January transfer window, with Real Sociedad star Alexander Isak linked to north London
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As Gabriel Martinelli burst through on goal in the 15th minute against Manchester City there was one thing that was painfully absent from the Arsenal attack.
Alexandre Lacazette had dropped deep in attempt to receive the ball off Thomas Partey, but unable to keep up with pace of his teammates, couldn’t get forward to offer the Brazilian a passing option.
It’s impossible to say if Martinelli would have in fact passed the ball – Martin Odegaard was an option in the middle and the 20-year-old still went for goal – but in the space of that one attack both the strengths and the weaknesses of the Gunners attack were perfectly demonstrated.
In Lacazette, Arsenal have a striker whose excellent link up play has been so outstanding in recent weeks that Martinelli, Odegaard, Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe have all flourished around him in recent weeks.
But they also have an attacker whose lack of mobility means that they are unable to capitalise on many of the offensive opportunities they create.
This should not be mistaken as a slight on the Frenchman, who has been immense in the Gunners recent run of form.
It is, however, a limitation that the club are keen to fix.
This is made difficult though by the fact that they currently have five centre forwards on their books, none of whom seem to possess all the qualities Mikel Arteta wants in a striker.
As already outlined, Lacazette lacks the mobility to get on the end of chances, while Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s strengths lie running in behind rather than dropping deep to create them.
Martinelli, meanwhile, seems to be at his best on the left wing, while Flo Balogun is still too raw to be considered a regular first team option at the moment and Eddie Nketiah seems set to leave the club either in January or when his contract expires this summer.
This means that Arsenal are on the look out for the centre forward in the transfer market, and with the decision having been taken to exile Aubameyang from the squad after stripping him of the captaincy, it appears there could be space in the squad to go out and get one.
One of the players they have been linked to is Real Sociedad’s Alexander Isak.
The 22-year-old Swedish international is reportedly subject of interest from the Gunners as well as Spanish giants Barcelona.
However, Arsenal have been given the upper hand in the race to sign him by the fact that Sociedad – where former left back Nacho Monreal currently plies his trade – don’t want to sell their star striker to a rival for La Liga’s top four this season according to reports from El Nacional.
Looking at Isak it is easy to see why the Gunners might be interested.
His young age means he would fall into the club’s transfer policy of recruiting players under 23 that was implemented by Edu and Josh Kroenke over the summer as Arsenal seek to build a team capable of challenging for the very biggest trophies over the next few years.
The Swede also possesses the ability to drop deep and link the play while having the pace and mobility to run forward and get on the end of chances that the Gunners’ exciting inside forwards create.
Of course, for someone so young there are still weak points to Isak’s game that he would need to work on.
At times his first touch can be a little loose and with the increased pace of the Premier League compared to La Liga, any mistakes are likely to be punished far more harshly.
On top of that, his release clause is said to be worth around £75million which would make signing him a risk for Arsenal, even if he does have elite level potential.
But as the Gunners prepare to move on from forwards in Aubameyang and Lacazette who have defined their front line for nearly half a decade now, it seems that a player like Isak could be the final missing piece to Arteta’s attacking jigsaw at the Emirates Stadium.