It’s time for Walcott and Podolski to reignite Oliver Giroud’s season

The men to deliver the crosses from either flank?
The men to deliver the crosses from either flank?

Would it be fair to say that Olivier Giroud is dividing Arsenal supporters at the moment? As the transfer window approaches the calls for Wenger to enter the market for a new striker are undoubtedly growing. Any regular readers of this site will know I am a fan of the Frenchman and I even wrote a piece suggesting we sign him in November 2011 months before we actually did sign him. Therefore I am not likely to change my tune at this stage but I am concerned that he is looking jaded and in need of a rest of a partner. Don’t worry I am not reverting to my call for 442 but I am wondering if we have forgotten how Giroud scored his goals.

It would be easy to think of Giroud as a big target man and I feel his hold up play and ability to bring his team mates into play is right up there with the best in the Premier League. Unlike many tall bulky centre forwards he also has beautiful soft feet and a deft touch. I am sure there are not too many who would have provided the exquisite pre-assist for the Ozil opener against Napoli or been able control the volleyed interplay for the Wilshere goal against Norwich. No the problem does not lie in those aspects of his game and he is suited to the way Wenger wants the team to play. Does this mean it is okay for our main striker not to be scoring is he is creating opportunities for others? Some might say yes but I suspect most would say no. It is a feature of this team that there will be goals from many quarters but we do need Giroud to take some of the chances he is currently passing up. He does on occasion snatch at good chances and the match against City at the weekend was a case in point. His misses at crucial times could have influenced the momentum in our favour.

So is the solution to simply relegate him to the subs bench and invest heavily in January when the best players are unlikely to be available? It may be that is the case but I suspect Wenger will wait and see the impact of having a fully fit Walcott back in the side and whilst in the minority I hope Podolski will have a role to play. I do take the point that Podolski has yet to prove he can lead the line like Giroud and I suspect he can’t. He is a front to goal player, no question, but as I have written previously the unknown is what the German can contribute fully fit and how he can link up with his compatriot Ozil. However this is not another piece on Podolski as such, more a reflection on what has changed from the earlier part of the season when Giroud was scoring with regularity. Ironically the catalyst for this arrived in the form of Manchester United and Welbeck strangely enough.

I was listening to Talksport in the car and Collymore was on his usual hobby horse of wingers playing on the right side for their best foot and going to the byline instead of playing on the wrong side and always cutting in to shoot. The guiltiest for this is Andros Townsend and on this subject I happen to concur with Stan. He was also advocating the low hard cross across the box being the hardest to defend and a nightmare for the big centre backs. Such delivery can cause mayhem and again I found myself nodding as I drove. Within 5 minutes Welbeck had scored twice from players (Rafael and Valencia) beating their man and sending in fizzing crosses with pace. One was a deep delivery at speed and the second low and hard across the 6 yard box.

Olivier celebrates a Giroud speciality to win NLD
Olivier celebrates a Giroud speciality to win NLD

This got me to thinking about our own attacking and Giroud’s lean spell. In my mind I was thinking that most of Olivier’s goals this season have not been the traditional centre forward headers you might expect from a big man but more often his knack of getting across defenders and turning in crosses. Indeed it is not just this season but last as well and I think perhaps we need to get back to the type of delivery from the wide areas that he thrives on. A quick look back at the early months of the season will illustrate the point:

Villa

 

Spuds

 

Sunderland

 

Dortmund

 

Napoli

 

I think it would fair to say that is reasonably conclusive and these type of chances have not been coming his way in recent weeks. This of course coincides with us losing our natural width, Podolski and Ox early doors but primarily Theo and even Cazorla. However we have Walcott back, fresh and possibly the only real positive from the weekend’s heavy defeat.  Giroud does not wanted the lofted ball to pluck out of the air or the through ball to run on to but he will bring the wide men into play and then time his run into the box as the clips above admirably demonstrate.

Sometimes it is not about the best players all being on the pitch simultaneously but more about finding a balance. With Cazorla at present a shadow of the player that took the league by storm in 2012/13 and Jack blowing hot and cold perhaps the timing of Lukas Podolski’s return could not be better. I think having a fresh Poldi desperate to reacquaint himself with the Premiership and his international friend could be the tonic Arsenal need over the busy Christmas and New Year period. Chelsea may be slightly too early but West Ham is a realistic possibility.

For those who need reminding and I think there are many of you West Ham as a return should spark incredible memories for all Gunners and I am certain it does for Lukas. Last season saw 3 stand out individual attacking displays. Theo v Newcastle, Santi v Reading for sure but for me the stand out individual performance was that of Lukas Podolski v West Ham in January of this year.

So for those remembering Podolski labouring through the centre in May or struggling in work back and support Gibbs in February and March here is a reminder of what a fit Lukas can do on the left flank and yes of course Giroud was a grateful recipient of one of 3 perfect balls delivered from the left by a precision left foot. Oh and of course the individual screamer from the very same unerringly accurate boot.

 

 

I feel there is potential for Giroud to start firing again with Podolski delivering from the left or allowing Gibbs to overlap and the same with Walcott and Sagna on the right. I feel it is time for Arsenal to rediscover the width in their play and to give Giroud more possibilities of attacking the delivery in the 6 yard box at which he has frequently shown he is superb.

It is just a theory of course but the fact that Giroud has scored more goals coming on to crosses and getting across the keeper or front post defender is indisputable. I am just not sure in recent weeks we have been playing to his strengths and in Theo and Lukas we might just have the players available together for the first time since August to reintroduce that option to our game.

Keen to hear any views as always.

 

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24 thoughts on “It’s time for Walcott and Podolski to reignite Oliver Giroud’s season

  1. to be honest,we do not have a star striker.arsenal are top now coz of the attacking midfielders..giroud was a letdown agnaist man city.he spoilt my weekend retreat at the fairmont mt kenya
    resort.

    1. So the anonymity of Ozil and Ramsey and the poor performances of Wilshere, Flamini and Monreal did not let you down? At least Giroud was getting in the positions.

  2. I think it’d be interesting to see figures showing how many of Giroud’s Arsenal goals so far have come off 1 touch. I’m willing to bet (as the few videos u posted in the article seem to validate, that it’s the majority). And while it’s good that he can score with 1 touch, I fear he lacks the consistent technical quality to control the ball and create a better shooting angle through a few additional touches, if the 1 timer isn’t on. I do remember him controlling to shoot v Brighton away and he did take a very good multiple touch right footed goal late in the Newcastle mauling last season. But I think overall, mentally he doesn’t quite back himself to score if he has to make any kind of preparatory dribble first (see missed chance in the Liverpool game this season). As u said, he offers so much more than just scoring that I’d definitely keep him in team, but someone else from the bench who’s a bit more confident to ‘create’ their own shot, should definitely be the target. It shouldn’t be that we’re the only top team in the PL whose main striker is 1 dimensional where goalscoring is concerned and needs a particular system with particular players playing to his 1 touch strength, to score goals. And in a rare season like this where all departments from goalkeeper to defence to midfield is clicking so well, it would be a shame for us to get pipped to the title because of inefficiency up front.

  3. Spot on! Most Arsenal fans fail to follow this beautiful game with tactical eyes. Giroud is not all about striking…besides Metersacker, the Frenchman is the best defensive player in our fold during corners and other set-plays against Arsenal. Besides, he gives any central defensive pair a run for their money, winning more than half of Szczesny’s long balls. In fact, we’ll start appreciating him again now that Theo is starting again…and of course Podolski will be an added boost!

  4. This is a wonderful analyses. Well spot on. I think Poldi should be fit enough for the Chelsea clash.

  5. as much as i agree with that, i still think such play will be typical with as as that was what we were doing last season and early this season before the injury to the wingers….the main issue is (and i dont know why its so) Wenger doesnt really change tactic sto suit the opponents…..usually the same tactics with maybe players in different positions, i’ll like him to try out the 442 with giroud and theo and give Ozil a little breather because the tough games keep coming thick and fast and we shouldnt be too predictable…cheers

  6. I was thinking about this issue as well and now Theo is back, we might see more goals from Giroud. However from this point of view, the major problem (assuming everybody fit) is finding the balance in midfield if we have Poldi, Theo and Giroud upfront. Ozil is a (almost) guranted starter, so we have only 2 midfielders to choose from Santi, Ramsey, Jack, Arteta, Flamini, Rosicky, et al.
    I guess among Poldi and Theo, only one of them will get a start.

    1. Right now Santi and Jack need leaving out for me. Santi and Ozil are struggling to play together

      1. Agree with that. Maybe a rotation between Santi and Özil at the no 10 position during busy fixture periods.

        Same goes for Rosicky, Ramsey, Wilshere, Arteta and Flamini.

        Personally, I thought Wenger should have did that for the Napoli and City games to keep players fresh since we only needed to not lose by 3 goals.

      2. Well…. our main strength is in midfield and if we are to play all three strikers we have at once, then it wont balance the side much. Poldi and Theo are more of a front to goal player, rarely they play as midfielders. We will be much more exploited.

  7. Giroud at center is good but we should put theo there to make the work easier for goals,going to 442 or 4132 in some cases will be good as well IMO.Am not doubting the type of work and improved the two players will bring to the team when fully fit.You spot it all out as they suppose to be and analyzed them well.

  8. We need a striker who can dribble pass defenders with skills and also at the end of those through balls with his pace.

  9. As for me Arsene wenger has to replace striker Giroud then, the striker is very dull, slurgish,even i preffered Bentner rather than him. Is better for wenger to get other striker or else all arsener star players may decide to be leaving d club side.

  10. This article raises an important point many people seem to have forgot. One of our biggest strengths last season was the partnership between Giroud-Podolski-Cazorla-Walcott. Each of them hit double figures and got a pile of assists. This season, we’ve only had Giroud playing regularly. The return of Walcott and Podolski, plus hopefully a return to form from Santi, could see us devastating some teams.

    Now I’m a big Giroud fan. I like his work rate and his linking up. Some of his one-touch play is genius (see Gibbs goal vs Swansea, Wilshere goal vs Swansea, Podolski vs Montpellier, etc), but I am under no illusions. Taking nothing away from Giroud, but the fact is if we had a better striker we would be a better side. One thing I think we lack is a bubbly, effervescent livewire who can create his own chances and goals from nothing. Basically a Suarez type.

    1. Good comments but with Ozil one of those players has to miss out and on present form that for me would be Santi. Not sure what the issues is but I wonder if Ozil and Santi cam work – Too similar?

      1. No doubts, on current form Santi is the one to miss out, and he’s unlucky. Throwing Ozil into that mix is only a good thing. I mean, we saw in his first 45 minutes against Sunderland how many times he played Theo through on goal, and on another day Theo could’ve had a three or four by half time. I think Podolski/ Cazorla-Ozil-Walcott playing behind Giroud is one of the best attacks in the league.

    2. Of course we’d be better with a better striker. Every team in the world would be. I understand the desire to get Suarez. I’m wondering if Wenger is kicking himself for not shelling out the ~55 mill pounds that Rodgers named in the summer. But to be honest, every team in the PL (and beyond) would want Suarez, so it’s not much of an insight to say we’d be better with Suarez (or a player like him. You know, one who scores 17 goals in 12 games or so).

      I say we just need to fine tune our attack, reintroduce our wing play with the returned Poldi and Walcott. Drop Santi for a while at least, maybe even give Ramsey a rest (if he needs it). Observations like Giroud thriving on low crosses from wide are just the stuff the manager and team need to make and mark down as things to work and improve on, so we can play consistently to our strengths.

  11. you are next to none, always nice article, with Walcot back and firing and Carzola though he needs playing time to rediscover his form we will have the desired width.

  12. Your argument makes a lot of sense. Poldi is still an unknown quantity to some degree. He tends to disappear in games a lot, but when he does something, it’s often real class. Wenger’s assessment that he isn’t giving 100% strikes me as very true. We’ll really need to get the most out of him. It’s a world cup year, Poldi’s spot in the NT is far from secure, he just got back from injury. There is a lot to prove and motivate him, and in this high-flying Arsenal side, he should be able to thrive.

    Walcott’s situation is much the same. Only we know what we can get from Theo a lot better. Which is around 20 goals a season. That man can score, it’s always been consistency. His form before the contract extension (when he was dropped from the first team) points to not a problem in ability, but mental adjustment. When he really wants it, wants to prove himself, he can tap into those last 10-15%. He should be mature enough now.

    Lastly for for goonerdave66, I really like your posts and regularly visit the site, but you should look into getting somebody to proofread or edit. I write blogs too from time to time and it really helps.

  13. Giroud as a striker his main priority is to score goals.

    Does himself and Wenger believe that he has the ability to trick defenders after holding or controlling the ball and push forward and strike ??No.
    He don’t trust himself nor the manager has full trust on him.
    Hence is encouraged to do the assist rather than do it himself. He works tirelessly and helps the team in other aspects to.
    Bottom line is as a striker i judge him on how many shoots on targets and goals produce in a given match.

    That goes the same to Torres .As a striker he lost his goal touches but the manager same to ours he is giving him other responsibility that can help the team. No any Chelsea fan that I know complain about his work rate.But where are the goals that he supposed to score ????

    Suarez is a different animal. Is not limited like Giroud on holding the ball and pass it to the nearest midfielder but his dribbling and forcing defenders to retreat and score the goal from different positions is phenomenal.

    I do expect a couple of extra goals when Poldi and Walcott added but not guaranteed kind of expectations.

    So yes we need a proper striker.

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