Mikel Arteta brought Kai Havertz to Arsenal for his footballing IQ, guile, technical quality and potential – not his ability to score goals. But if he’s to be entrusted as the Gunners’ main man in attack in the absence of Gabriel Jesus ahead of next weekend’s Premier League opener against Nottingham Forest, his chance conversion rate will automatically be placed under the spotlight – as it was here in the Community Shield final, which Arsenal won 4-1 on penalties after the two sides finished the 90 minutes level at 1-1.
There is no getting away from the fact that besides his finishing, Havertz turned in a credible centre-forward display at Wembley as he bustled and battled against John Stones and Ruben Dias.
He drew clever fouls, linked the play intelligently and was also a threat in the penalty box. Yet despite his savvy display, there is no denying he still lacks that ruthless streak in the final third.
Top forwards go cold in the crunch moments and Havertz could not have wished for two better chances before the interval when he was twice denied by Stefan Ortega.
Much like Havertz, Jesus is not renowned for prolific goalscoring but he certainly knows how to find the back of the net despite his 11-game goal drought last season.
The legacy Havertz left behind at Chelsea remains in attack because of his match-winning strike against today’s opponents Manchester City in the Champions League final in Porto in 2021 but towards the end of his time at Stamford Bridge, his sloppy finishing was prevalent.
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And if Havertz is going to operate as a false-nine, goals are what could define the early stages of his Arsenal career, even if he is appreciated in different ways by Arteta.
Eddie Nketiah has now seemingly slipped to third in the striker pecking order while Folarin Balogun is headed for the exit door. Leandro Trossard, who grabbed a late equaliser via a deflection can also play centrally but the harsh reality is that a bonus attacking signing may now be required to maximise Arsenal’s chances of delivering the Premier League title.
There is hope Jesus won’t be sidelined for long but as we saw last season, some injuries end up being worse than disclosed and the Brazilian is so crucial to everything Arsenal do in attack.
Havertz will need time to adjust and while he still brings plenty to the party, Arsenal may need a guaranteed output of goals they can bank on if they are to beat Manchester City out of the traps.
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Nowadays, those challenging for the title do not tend to drop many points and although Arsenal do have other sources of goals within their side such as Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli, another forward signing must at least be considered.
Mohammed Kudus has been looked at but looks to be headed for Brighton while Jonathan David and Dusan Vlahovic have both been tracked in previous transfer windows. Finding a buyer for Balogun or Nketiah to maximise funds, wouldn’t be difficult.
There was one other area of the squad that also looked like it might need some TLC during the Community Shield clash with Manchester City.
While Thomas Partey was largely solid, he was sloppy in possession at times and also lacked discipline in the early stages of the contest.
With Jorginho absent with a small muscle injury, Arsenal were down to bare bones in terms of central midfield options from the bench and it showcases just how quickly things can change over the duration of a long season when so much is at stake.
Partey’s fitness record is hardly spotless and although there are other solutions to hand such as playing Ben White or Oleksandr Zinchenko in a deep role, you get the sense that signing another midfielder might just be a smart move.
You need fierce competition for places in every area of the squad and there are no guarantees Arsenal will be able to rely on Partey as much as they did last season when he excelled alongside Granit Xhaka.
Although David Raya’s potential arrival is only going to help the squad, you do have to question whether that cash could be better of spent elsewhere on other areas of Arteta’s team.
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