Lack of strikers hurts Arsenal in Champions League

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 12, 2014 at 7:34 am •  Published: March 12, 2014

As he digests Arsenal's fourth straight exit in the last 16 of the Champions League, it may be time for Arsene Wenger to own up to a familiar shortcoming — his chronic shortage of strikers.

With Bayern Munich's defense briefly gripped with nerves after Lukas Podolski's 57th-minute equalizer on Tuesday at the Allianz Arena, it was the moment for Wenger to go on all-out attack as his team chased two more goals for a place in the quarterfinals.

Problem was, he had no forwards on his bench to help out lone striker Olivier Giroud.

At Wenger's disposal was two defenders, a holding midfielder and a rookie winger.

The result? A late charge by the visitors didn't materialize and Bayern eased into the last eight with a 1-1 draw in the second leg for a 3-1 aggregate win.

"I felt that Bayern was very vulnerable defensively and that we didn't take advantage of that," said Wenger, highlighting a problem perhaps of his own making. "I felt the situations were there where we could have made more of it. At the end of the day we never got them really under pressure."

It wouldn't be uncommon during his long reign at Manchester United for Alex Ferguson to unleash four strikers at the opposition as he sought late goals to salvage points in the league or qualification in Europe.

Wenger doesn't even have four out-and-out strikers in his entire squad.

He has attempted a four-prong assault for silverware this season with Giroud as his main striker, with back-up provided by Yaya Sanogo, a 21-year-old French striker who joined on a free transfer last year, and Nicklas Bendtner, the Denmark international who has been out of favor for years and seems likely to be leaving Arsenal in June.

And it's at this time of the season, when the fixtures pile up and critical games come one after the other, that Wenger's lack of striker options really shows.

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