More Giroud fury, Theo’s nugget, Santi’s magic and an excellent Boxing Day comeback.

Theo finally refused to be used as a puppet by opposing defenders.

Morning greetings, you luminous and cromulent perusers.

I think my stomach in annoyed with me. Were I to liken it to a fictional character right now, I’d say it’s similar to the unhinged unpredictability of Gary Oldman’s villain in Leon: The Professional – I especially imagine shouts of “EVERYONE!!” when I’m being offered biscuits. Currently, there are lots of peculiar gurgles and pangs of discomfort to contend with. Overconsumption is a b*tch.

Mercifully, I’m not writing of a poor result today. To West Ham’s credit, yesterday there was a period of around 20 minutes at the start of the second half when I was sure that’s what I’d be doing. Having weathered something of a storm in the first half, the Hammers came out brightly in the second period, nabbed a fortuitous opening goal and went on to put us under a little pressure. But for profligacy and a touch of fortune, we could very easily have found ourselves 2-0 down. 

However, Arsenal showed some mettle to get back into the game. We didn’t panic or lose our shape. We kept plugging away knowing that if we did so the goals would come. And they did. Theo’s equaliser shared as much fortune with West Ham’s opener – I felt for both keepers as what looked easy was made otherwise by the amount of bodies obscuring their views. Granted, both shots should have been dealt with comfortably, but it’s easy to pass judgement from the warmth of your home or the stands.

Once that shot bobbled over the line, the momentum switched at there was only going to be one winner. Lukas Podolski came on and made an instant impact (Let’s hope Ramsey’s thigh injury is not a serious one and only keeps him out for the remainder of the festive period). It’s great to see him back. I’ve stated before that I believe he’s the best finisher at the Club. Lukas has an absolute rocket of a left foot. He put in a great cross for Theo’s second – a header of all things – and clinically finished from Giroud’s intelligent knock-down to add the third. All in all, a excellent comeback at a ground that’s a difficult place to go. Some will say West Ham are relegation fodder and the type of team we should be dispatching with minimal fuss. Perhaps they are, but the beauty of the Premiership is the ability for anyone to beat anyone else of their day. In my eyes, a 3-1 victory after trailing is a superb result and one that puts us right back on top of the table.

Of course, it’s not all sunshine and happiness out there. This is Arsenal, it never is. Once again Olivier Giroud has found himself the brunt of a great deal of petty moaning and squabbling. I don’t dispute he is currently suffering with a lack of form. Constructive criticism is something I’m all for. What gets me is how swiftly a few average/poor performances can make people forget the immeasurably greater amount of good things he’s done, and continues to do.

Do I dispute he could use some help up there? Not at all. Leading the line by yourself is a tough thing to have to do. But we forget he does so through no fault of his own. Olivier works his socks off for the team, he’s unselfish and it’s apparent to anyone watching that he cares. His hold-up play enables others to be brought into attacks and I often state it shouldn’t be overlooked how much sterling work he puts into defending set pieces and corners. His goals and assists ratio is some distance from being appalling, and the miserable sods out there really should cut him some slack.  One of the most satisfying things I gleaned from yesterday was hearing our away support sing his name after a miss. That’s exactly what he deserves; to be supported even when things aren’t going his way.

Elsewhere in the team, the game drew an excellent performance from Santi Cazorla. By his own high standards, our little Spanish magician hasn’t been at his best. He was industrious and creative in our midfield, scurrying about making tackles and doing his best to make things happen. Hopefully, this is the time in which he presses forward and we get to see the best of him. We all know just how brilliant he can be. Mikel Arteta’s performance was also brilliant, and very much in the Gilberto Silva vein. His good work breaking up attacks and keeping things ticking over was easy to overlook. I love The Flame to bits, and he still remains my preference for the holding role, but that doesn’t mean I don’t rate Arteta. I do, and he showed that we have two different characters both capable of filling that role in different ways. It’s a good option to have.

All in all, I’m very pleased. West Ham gave us a good game, and it was a test of our credentials. We came through it on the back of a couple of difficult results and we did so with style. As we head towards another tricky away fixture at Newcastle, we can take some heart from knowing this Arsenal team has great spirit and character.

That’s all for today, folks.  Seeing as the performances of Olivier Giroud are under such unwarranted scrutiny, I have a question; do you realistically think replacing him in January is a good idea? Securing the services of someone to lighten his workload is a good idea, but bringing in a striker to take his place smacks of the kind of move that could very easily disrupt the harmony of the squad and have an averse effect. Let me know what you think in the oh-so handy comments section below.

As always; thanks for reading, you beautiful bastards.

23 Comments

Filed under Match reviews

23 Responses to More Giroud fury, Theo’s nugget, Santi’s magic and an excellent Boxing Day comeback.

  1. I think e should just give Bendtner more playing time.He looks good every time he playse(bar the Chelsea COC ,where he was left isolated and I dont blame that on him).
    Fantastic post James.

  2. fidel

    We don’t care about hold up play, a striker is supposed to score goals no matter what. that is the main role of a striker. He cant even tap in a goal, let alone take someone on a one-on-one. He irritates me with his taps

    • Chris

      We DO care about hold up play … which is why Theo would be no good there in some tactical situations. But we also MUST have another striker – who has pace and can take crucial chances !

  3. Ladi Obembe

    Bring a well established strikers. one or two. That guy Giroud is not a striker. He’s better to be a back-up (supporting striker) for striker. He is tired already. Look at the clinical goal Podoski score yesterday, if Giroud were to be in that position he will lose that opportunity. Get us a striker let Giroud be a back up for the new striker. He missed two golden opportunity against chelsea, west ham and others.

  4. ge

    wanyne rooney = 11 goals , 23 games

    Olivier Giroud = 10, 24 games.

    1 is seen as having a good season and carrying his team, the other is not quite up to scratch and needs help.

    all im saying lets judge when the games are done.

  5. DeeTees

    Good post (apart from a lack of Walcott commentary on a fantastic showing), great point on Giroud. Now Podolski is back I think a game on the bench will do him the world of good. The previous post on ‘the main role of a striker’ completely misses the point (much like Giroud in front of goal recently), as long as we get goals who honestly cares where they come from ? If we win the title and Giroud doesn’t get another goal this season I would not give a monkeys.

  6. And that last comment is the reason I have a zero tolerance policy for halfwits.

  7. LeBigMac

    Here here!
    Not too sure about Bendtner however. Yesterday he looked so off the pace it was almost embarrassing for him. Maybe the problem is the team have evolved and he has not.
    I have to agree that Olivier needs some help and that we should not replace him. His hold up play is magnificent and his touch will come back soon enough. Just get a pen and let him score it. The boy wonder will be back with a vengeance!
    Nice post as ever James.

  8. Max Stirner

    The people critical of Giroud are the armchair muppets and the opera buffs who go the Grove. Citeh, Chelski, Manu have three strikers to rotate, the guy is going through a tough spell, but like Wrighty I’m very impressed with the character he’s showing.

  9. Pete

    I agree he needs support- he will be a real gem. Keep the faith

  10. NW

    If the team has Poldi and Walcott around, then it won’t be a problem with Giroud not scoring frequently.

    If the team don’t have those two and need to rely on him to score, that might be a issue.

    Cazorla is back to his best after spending a few weeks to pick up his form. He scores more frequently than Ozil so having him back certainly helps. His picking up of form comes just in time as Ramsey is down.

    The reserve is big enough, except for the striker so its not bad.

    And may be give Bendtner more game. Wenger should use him to wear other teams out for may be half a game to 60 minutes and save Giroud some energy. That might work against weaker team and if things work out, Bendtner might get a few goals and Giroud would get a full game’s rest on the bench. That’s better for his confidence instead of replacing him with Poldi and Walcott right the way.

  11. mohamed aziz

    We need a striker a finnisher and giroud needs a rest he works hard for the team its just he lost his bearing on the two sticks and direction rest him like the promised rest to him ramzy ozil.we over play them till the injuries occures like ramzy now

  12. B.T

    Come on chaps, we desperately need a new striker, one that has the ability to do something special,Giroud does a lot of good work for the team but we are missing that bit of brialliance from a front line striker in those big games,one that can put away a half chance or create a goal from nothing.

  13. realarsenalfan

    Lets work with what we have now, Poldi is back, Theo can play upfront.

  14. nijwm

    there’s been a little debate over where cazorla’s best position is. some would use stats to argue that his most productive (goals and assists) games have been when he was deployed wide last season. but personally i like him when he plays centrally, always looking for that lofted ball over the defence (the one he played for podolski yesterday is a prime example) or through passes along the ground. what’s your opinion james?

    also he’s arguably more nimble footed thereby allowing him to wriggle free from defenders in the centre. ozil’s been looking below par lately and looks like he could do with some rest. so should we rest him for the newcastle game and leave him on the bench, and play cazorla, walcott, poldi and giroud upfront? after all, wenger must trust his overall squad and at some point players will have to be rested.
    what’s your opinion james?

    • @nijwm:

      Thanks for the questions. To answer:

      1. – I think he’s best deployed from the left, but with the understanding he and Ozil can rotate and switch positions to keep opponents guessing.

      2. – I totally agree. Players will unquestionably need rest, and Ozil is looking a little fatigued at times. However, I think Newcastle at St James’ Park will be a stern test and one in which we should field our strongest available line-up. The Cardiff game seems a better option to swap and change.

  15. nijwm

    appreciate your reply james. we need the arsenal that defeated napoli and liverpool this season to turn up at newcastle.

  16. Optimist Habila

    Wenger mustn’t just buy because ‘Giroud can’t score a goal any more’. I believe he can. We have Podolski and Theo who can help end the season for Arsenal in a fine way, barring any injuries. January can’t guarantee Arsenal the top quality striker they deserve. I don’t think players like Pato can solve our problem. Cavani, Suarez, Dzeko, Benzema yes, but you won’t get any of such jewels in January so let’s just make with what we have. The present squad can make history if they have been destined to-which is what looks to be for me.

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