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Brilliant Belgian best bet to bolster Arsenal forward ranks

| 04.11.2013

Arsenal’s cracking start to the 2013/14 Premier League campaign has papered over the cracks in the Emirates’ forward department, but the north Londoners have been linked with a number of strikers in recent weeks and look set to bring in proper cover for Olivier Giroud in January.

Despite racking up a five-point lead after 10 matches, the Gunners are 4/1 third-favourites behind Man City and Chelsea to lift the title in May.

Their 2-0 home loss to Jose Mourinho’s side in the Capital One Cup laid bare the weaknesses in Arsene Wenger’s squad relative to the Blues’.

De facto second-choice goal-getter Nicklas Bendtner’s dreadful performance that night saw the Dane booed of the pitch by a section of his own fans.

He looks certain to leave in January with Stoke, Crystal Palace and Hull – whose boss Steve Bruce has had Bendtner on loan at Birmingham and Sunderland in the past – all thought to be interested in a £1m move for the player.

Besides Bendtner Wenger has Park Chu-Young, Yaya Sanogo and Chuba Akpom to call upon should Giroud suffer from injury or loss of form.

None of the trio have scored even a single goal in the English top flight and with Arsenal also looking to make waves in the Champions League knock-out stages providing they steer their way out of a tough group, a top-class striker must be sought after Christmas.

Arsenal have been constantly linked with a January move for Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema and one news outlet claimed recently that the Frenchman had agreed personal terms ahead of a £22m move once the transfer window reopens.

Rumours that the north Londoners will go back in for Liverpool’s Luis Suarez won’t go away either after a failed £40m bid during the summer.

The Gunners gaffer added fuel to that particular fire when talking up the Uruguayan wizard ahead of his team’s 2-0 win against Brendan Rodgers’ Reds at the Emirates and refused to rule out another swoop for the 26-year-old.

However, as Wenger alluded to in his pre-match interview Suarez is more comfortable in the number ten role behind a centre-forward, which is where £42.5m club record signing Mesut Ozil currently operates.

What Arsenal need is a prolific young goalscorer who can put pressure on Giroud for a starting berth and Aston Villa hotshot Christian Benteke is the man who fits that bill.

Benteke has hit the back of the net an impressive 28 times in 48 games in English football since swapping Belgium for Birmingham in August 2012.

The 22-year-old started this season on fire, with four goals in his first five matches of the Premier League campaign – including an opening day brace at the Emirates in Villa’s 3-1 win over Arsenal – before injury interrupted his flow.

The former Genk man needs goals to stay in the headlines ahead of next summer’s World Cup, with fellow Belgian forward Romelu Lukaku making a case for inclusion in Marc Wilmots’ starting lineup with his form for Everton this term.

Benteke was thought to be open to a move to the capital during the summer before boss Paul Lambert said no, but with Arsenal reportedly sending scouts to rate his performance at West Ham an offer the Villans would struggle to refuse may be on the cards in January.