Arsene Wenger has said that he has no problems with fielding both Marouane Chamakh and Robin van Persie in the same team.
As a result of his switching to 4-3-3 at the start of last season, there is room for only one traditional centre-forward in the Arsenal team, a role held so far this season by Marouane Chamakh. But with Van Persie now back from an ankle injury that put him out for three months, Wenger insists that he does not simply have to choose between the two of them.
"We can play Chamakh and Van Persie together," he said. "We can play Chamakh up front and Van Persie behind. What is interesting is that we can play all kinds of formations with the two." Van Persie was injured at Ewood Park on 28 August, and was replaced in that game by Chamakh. Last Tuesday, however, he started his first game in three months in the Carling Cup against Wigan Athletic.
"I am pleased because Van Persie is getting stronger every day," said Wenger. "He had 70 minutes the other night [against Wigan] and I am confident that if we can get him injury-free in the next three weeks he will be back to his best level."
Chamakh has settled quickly into English football since his free transfer in the summer from Bordeaux. The 26-year-old French striker, who plays international football for Morocco, has scored 10 goals in his 17 games. He spoke yesterday about how much he is enjoying his season and how he hopes to double his goal tally.
"For me, if I can weigh in with 15 to 20 goals, it would be a very, very good season," said Chamakh. "Whatever happens I hope to continue my progress. It has gone really well with the set-up here, I hardly knew anyone when I arrived, but they have all made me feel very welcome. It has been easy to settle in and this has allowed me to express myself and that's very important. I am happy, but I can do better."
Chamakh ascribed his notable success so far to his selfless work rate, something which has made him a natural fit in Wenger's single-striker system. "I give 200 per cent, I play with my heart, I've got guts, I give everything I've got," he said.
"I don't cheat or cut corners, that's my strength, my character and I think that they [the fans] like me for it."
Wenger also said he believes the attitude, spirit and quality were right in the squad, giving him hope they would finally end their five-year trophy drought this season.