Arsene Wenger says Mesut Ozil and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain should be targetting at least ten goals each this season as he claimed Arsenal can challenge for the title by sharing goals around the team.
Building on comments made in July – when he stressed his current personnel have the quality to close the gap on Chelsea and Manchester City – the boss spoke in unequivocal terms about which players he’s expecting more from in front of goal.
“When we go forward we look like we can score goals,” Wenger told press ahead of the season opener with West Ham. “We were dominated in the second half against Chelsea [in the Community Shield] but every time we crossed the halfway line it looked like something could happen there.
“We have to develop our collective game. I think we have to depend less on one guy who comes in and then scores all the goals, and continue to develop our players and the collective aspect.
“I don’t see why a guy like Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain should not aim to score 10 or more goals. Alexis can score goals and Ozil has to fix himself a target of at least 10. Five for a guy who plays behind a striker, you want more goals from him. We can share that a bit.
“Giroud will not be far away from 20. If he played the whole of last season then he would have scored 20 goals. Walcott as well.”
As we touched on last month, aside from Alexis and Olivier only Aaron Ramsey, with 10 goals, made it into double figures last season. Danny Welbeck, Theo Walcott, Mesut Ozil, Santi Cazorla and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain scored just 31 goals between them – a figure which to a certain extent was influenced by their personal injury records.
Wenger’s comments on the importance of the ‘collective’ come as a response to Thierry Henry’s public declaration that the Gunners should be in the market for France international Karim Benzema.
“Yes, Arsenal would win the league,” said Thierry to Sky Sports on the impact of his striker compatriot.
“I think if you get Benzema, not only will you challenge for the league, but you also challenge for the Champions League.
“They need that type of striker who can be different to Olivier Giroud. Him alone as a striker all season, he is very good at what he does but you need to have that type of striker who can stretch a defence, a guy that can go in behind.”
Wenger, well aware that Thierry has to pipe up with opinions given his high-profile TV role, joked that things aren’t quite so cut and dry, “I respect Thierry Henry a lot for his football knowledge but it is not as mathematical as that.”