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Wenger on hunt for experienced striker

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger during a past Barclays Premier League match at Emirates Stadium. PHOTO/AFP.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger during a past Barclays Premier League match at Emirates Stadium. PHOTO/AFP.

LOS ANGELES, United States, July 30- Arsene Wenger is on the hunt for additional firepower ahead of a Premier League campaign in which the battle for top-four spots will be more fiercely contested than ever.

Arsenal finished second last season despite being outscored by the two sides immediately behind them, Tottenham and Manchester City.

And after watching Chuba Akpom’s late goal seal a 2-1 victory for his side over an MLS All Stars team in San Jose, Wenger revealed he is keen to add a proven scorer to his ranks.

He said: ‘At the moment I have not too many attacking options in terms of experienced players. But let’s not forget we still have a few players at home.

‘There are also a few players who did not play (against the MLS All-Stars), like (Santi) Cazorla. And of course (Mesut) Ozil and (Aaron) Ramsey are at home. (Olivier) Giroud is also not here.

‘So we have options but we will still look outside to find one more.’

Doubts persist about Giroud’s ability to spearhead the attack for a side harbouring title winning aspirations. The French striker did net 16 Premier League goals last term, but the suspicion remains that a top class finisher would be especially prolific in a team packed with a battery of creative talent.

Lyon this week rebuffed a £29.4m Arsenal bid for French striker Alexandre Lacazette. But after seeing Chelsea, Manchester United and Tottenham all land highly-rated centre forwards this summer, Wenger will be alive to the threat of his top-four rivals gaining a jump start on his side when the Premier League season kicks off next month.

The Gunners’ original No 1 striking target, Jamie Vardy, opted to stay with champions Leicester City rather than switch to the Emirates Stadium. And Danny Welbeck, whose time in north London has been blighted by injury, will be missing until the new year.

That leaves Wenger keeping his fingers crossed that Giroud will return from his post-Euro 2016 break in good nick, while muddling through the pre-season looking for goals from the likes of 20-year-old Akpom and Joel Campbell, whose penalty opened the scoring against the All Stars.

Theo Walcott and Alexis Sanchez can both lead the line, but that pair’s respective skills are better utilised in more withdrawn roles.

Wenger’s pursuit of a striker will be especially difficult given rival clubs, fully aware of Arsenal’s predicament, are sure to raise their asking prices when the Frenchman comes calling.

If he wants his team to be a factor in the forthcoming title race, however, the famously parsimonious Gunners’ boss is likely to have to bite the bullet and spend big.

-By DailyMail