There are certain positions in the team that highlight a players dip in form far more than others. A midfielder can shy away from the scrutiny a little, flit in and out of games and still come off the field escaping the wrath of fans and assorted experts. Ditto for defenders.
Goalkeepers and strikers though – they cannot hope to evade the harsh spotlight. Strikers in particular, are expected to slot away chances when they are presented, and every missed opportunity is used to bash their fragile confidence. If a forward misses a few, they are off form. If they miss more than a few, they are in crisis.
If they fail to score for a few games – where they any good in the first place?
Step forward Olivier Giroud. Arsenal’s handsome frontman is again suffering from a drought which paints a tawdry picture of his season thus far. It is hard to disagree, with one goal in sixteen Premier League matches at the time of writing, he is hardly justifying why he should be picked.
Arsenal’s Number 12 has become accustomed to proving doubters wrong, as every season the clamour for a stellar, megabucks striker to sign grows louder. Yet, Giroud continues to plough a lone furrow up top, and his ability to score in big games ( Bayern twice, Liverpool and City to name a few ) means he can be called upon when the games come thick and fast. In his recent international match versus Netherlands, he even used his goal to point out that he is nearing better form for his club!
Alas, it hasn’t been enough.
Recently, due to his errant finishing, he has seen himself demoted to the Gunners bench as the fit and firing Danny Welbeck has blitzed his way into the side thanks to his tireless running and his run of goals. His vibrancy has been a breath of fresh air, especially when Arsenal were producing stagnant results in February and March.
It would appear that Danny Welbeck has taken his chance. He seems to be first choice for the sole striker slot, and Giroud has been the Plan B when Welbeck cannot penetrate an opposing backline.
Is Giroud still a viable first choice?
So far this season, Giroud is our top scorer with 13 goals ( at the time of writing). He also has more assists than his fellow strikers. Granted, he has played more games, but what isn’t often stated is his hold up play and how he integrates other attackers into a move. His awareness is quite excellent and others benefit from his presence. He has played 180 games for Arsenal in total, scoring 78 goals and amassing 32 assists. Not bad for someone who is often labeled ineffective.
He has the best aerial success out of all of our attacking players ( since his debut, no other player in the PL has scored more headers ), and he is at the fulcrum of the majority of our attacking play, but he is simply low on confidence. Whilst this continues, it is common sense to confine him to a substitutes role. Danny Welbeck was on fire and deserves a run in the side when he returns.
Giroud however, should not be consigned to the scrapheap.
He should not be our first choice striker though, either.
This season has seen many moments where a realisation has set in. Instances where a player of higher class would have made the difference. Still undecided?
Mesut Ozil has broken the record for chances created in the Premier League this campaign – surely this would reap rewards in the goal scored column?
No. We have scored less than City, tottenham and Leicester.
So: Most chances created, divided by poor finishing, equals an urgent deficiency in the striker area.
Form is temporary, but class is permanent. Giroud may not be Luis Suarez or Robert Lewandowski, but he can be effective. Rotation is key, and Giroud could have staked a claim which was just as viable as Welbeck’s. His time at Arsenal may be nearing an end – who knows what will happen this summer – but a stellar hotshot will hopefully grant thousands of Gooner’s wishes.
Giroud could claim hardships for his first few seasons, but this campaign has underlined his shortcomings. All title contenders are backed up by a clinical striker who is the go-to guy when the game is tight and they require something to push them over the line.
A club contending for honours needs twenty goals from their leading man. This season has seen Jamie Vardy for Leicester, Harry Kane for tottenham, and of course, the delightful Sergio Aguero keeping City in the pack. We require this to move on.
He fits into our system well, and his link up play is enough to keep him on our books. As the man leading the line though? He simply doesn’t match up.
We have such a wonderful history of goal-getters too. It’s high time we carried on that tradition. Time to spend.