OH MY! Olivier Giroud is out for three months, we are doomed! Let’s ignore the fact that a large chunk of Arsenal supporters called him with some adorable names since the beginning of the season, asking Arsène Wenger to buy any kind of striker to replace that useless guy (I’m being very polite here), and focus on how the Arsenal will look without the Frenchman.
Will Arsène Wenger replace him with a new striker? Will he stick to players currently at the club and ask Alexis Sanchez, Yaya Sanogo, Joel Campbell and Lukas Podolski – assuming he is staying – to do the job?
Personally, I think Arsène Wenger won’t buy unless a very good opportunity comes out.
Shall we win the Champions League play-off and shall a top quality player become available, he could make a move.
I’m thinking about Edinson Cavani, Karim Benzema or Radamel Falcao. If the only players available are Loïc Rémy and Danny Welbeck then I guess it’s better to stay as we are.
We have options on the bench, unfortunately we don’t have a striker able to do what Olivier Giroud does best, and I’m not talking about celebrations or it-was-almost-in expressions for cameras – I am talking about being a proper target man.
He is not my favorite kind of striker but he is definitely good at holding the ball, picking-up team-mates’ runs and creating spaces for others to pop in the box.
None of our other strikers can do it, either because they are not strong enough or because they cannot play with their backs at goal.
Yaya Sanogo is supposed to be Olivier Giroud natural back-up, however the young French fellow looks absolutely raw despite some good potential and personally I wouldn’t like to see him lead our front line for next three months.
What’s next for the Arsenal, then?
Taking for granted the fact that Arsène Wenger won’t bring another striker in, I am afraid that we will need to drastically change our approach in order to cope with the lack of a powerful centre forward.
We will need to exploit our strikers’ skills, which are mainly great movement, runs behind enemy lines and quick counters.
Obviously, I am thinking about Alexis Sanchez, who is likely to become our main man for the coming months: we can’t ask him to hold the ball, fight with centre-backs and do the dirty job Olivier Giroud usually does; when he tried to do it, he failed miserably – like the game at Goodison Park proved.
Basically we must suit to Alexis Sanchez (or Joel Campbell, Lukas Podolski & Co.) style instead of asking him to suit our style.
That’s the tricky point, in my opinion.
I am not sure the team can switch that quickly without losing balance and cohesion, which will put our season in danger already at a very early stage; on the other hand, keep playing the same football we played last season without Olivier Giroud is a big gamble as none can guarantee his presence and effectiveness.
Maybe it’s the good chance to elaborate the famous Plan B which seems to be missing at the Arsenal, the alternate tactical strategy which will make us more dangerous and less predictable.
No more tall strikers to fight for the ball upfront but shorter, quicker forwards ready to elude the offside trap and play 1v1 against goalkeepers – now that’s an exciting perspective!
Imagine Arsène Wenger asking his men to invite opponents outside their half by playing a deep defensive line; imagine Mikel Arteta winning the ball back and feeding Aaron Ramsey whose surging run breaks through midfield; imagine the Welshman picking Mesut Özil in the final third with a sharp pass; imagine the German playmaker escape a tackle and deliver a perfectly-weighted pass to Alexis Sanchez, whose perfectly-timed run clears him for a one-versus-one against the goalkeeper.
The Chilean controls the ball, elude goalkeeper who’s desperately running off his line and slot the ball in the empty goal in front of a rapturous Clock End.
Wow. Just wow.
Will we be able to do that on regular basis?
Thirty-something Italian, currently in Switzerland. Gooner since mid-ninties, when the Gunners defeated my hometown team, in Copenhagen. Twelve years ago I started my own blog (www.clockenditalia.com) after after some experiences with Italian websites and football magazines. Debate, don’t insult or you’re out.