Yaya Sanogo did well tonight. He exceeded my expectations. His movement was good, at times he linked up well and also showed glimpses of what a big potential he has. But tonight wasn't the time for that. Tonight we were playing the best team in Europe and needed to get a positive result. We shouldn't have been in the position where we're playing a Champions League debutant who's hardly kicked a ball in top flight football.
You don't see any other big team across Europe playing such an inexperienced lad who isn't up to that level yet. Yes, Sanogo did well but he did well in terms of our expectations for him. If Giroud had done some of the touches in the box tonight that Sanogo did he'd be criticized. I'm not blaming him, I'm saying we should have a better striker to be playing in this game.
Imagine if we had Suarez tonight? If the ball had fallen to him in the box the 3 or 4 times it fell to Sanogo we'd have probably scored at some point; he'd have known what to do- when to lay it off, when to turn, when to shoot etc. I'm not saying the club should have got Suarez, because it's easier said than done- perhaps it was a impossible transfer to pull off in reality.
But we should have a really good striker. Man City have managed to find 4, Liverpool (who haven't qualified for the Champions League since 2009) have 2, Man Utd have 2, Barcelona have 2, Real Madrid have 2, Dortmund have 1, Juventus and PSG have them, arguably Napoli too. We should be in that group of teams. We shouldn't have to be playing Sanogo in a game like tonight's. He's a good looking player for the future but for the here and now he's not ready yet to spearhead this team to European glory. And that's what we're looking for at the end of the day, that's why we play in this competition- to try and win it. But we can't with the striking options we have.
I've done an Arsenal/Liverpool XI. And only 3 Liverpool players are in it. Mignolet, Suarez and Sturridge. Yet Liverpool are only 3 points behind us in the league, which suggests they're around the same level as us and there isn't much between the two sides. But the 8 on 3 suggests otherwise. So what balances this contradiction?
The power and influence of having two deadly strikers, one of whom is absolutely top class. That's how much of an impact they have, through creating chances and goals out of nothing, scoring for fun despite having the likes of Jordan Henderson and Joe Allen behind them. Imagine what a striker of Suarez's caliber would be capable of with the likes of Walcott, Cazorla, Ramsey and Ozil around him.
I firmly believe we have a very good side and that we are very close to greatness. We are a top class striker away from winning the league (we might win it without one even, you could argue if we had one now we'd be about 10 points clear) and being genuinely strong contenders for the Champions League.
Getting a top class striker is, of course, a lot easier said than done. But that's what we have to go out and get, no matter how much it costs us. We need to make a real statement of intent by going out and attracting a Suarez/Lewandowski/Aguero level player.
I don't think we'll win the title, and for that very reason. Our four striking options at the moment are Giroud, Sanogo, Podolski and Bendtner. Whereas Man City's are Aguero, Negredo, Dzeko and Jovetic. I think ultimately that'll be the difference, even though we have a better defence than them.