11th October 2015: Side-lined strikers refuse to sulk

Sunday salutations. Man, do I hate club-football-free weekends. The internationals just don’t cut it. Bad teams, bad pitches and disjointed football for the most part. Anyway, the worst of it’s over now and by the middle of the week we’ll be able to turn our attentions back to the return of the real stuff.

In the meantime though, Olivier Giroud has been reflecting on losing his status as Arsenal’s first-choice front-man and showing just what a team player he really is, by admitting Theo Walcott deserves to start ahead of him given the England man’s fine recent form. Speaking to L’Equip, the Frenchman said:

It is something new for me. Whether it was at Tours, Montpellier or Arsenal, I have never experienced a situation like this, I have often played from the start. I need to take positives and to harden myself mentally. I cannot simply take refuge in work. At Arsenal, I am in competition with Theo [Walcott] for the striker position. But he is doing well at the moment, so there is no reason to change. I was in his place in previous seasons at Arsenal. I imagine what he must have been thinking. But I feel that the coach believes in me. It has been for several matches now that I have played less, that is for sure, but I do not need to be worried. I need a bit more game time but also to believe more in my abilities.

It’s been noted by many already but between them, Giroud and Walcott tick almost every box of attributes you’d want from a striker. The only ‘ability’ neither of them possess is perhaps being able to fashion a goal by themselves out of nowhere. Although if Theo gains more and more confidence from maintaining his current form, I actually think that’s something he’s capable of.

Beating a few men before slotting one away, or lashing one in from distance – I don’t think that’s beyond him. I’m sure Arsene Wenger, as he does all his players, will be urging Theo to ‘try things’ in the final third and I wouldn’t bet against him surprising people with what he’s capable of just as he has done by making a success of the striker’s role.

Funnily enough, one of the criticisms leveled at Walcott – not being aggressive enough – by many observers including myself, also applies to Giroud, despite him being built to bully defenders. He’s shown he can link the play and possesses fine close control at times, as well as decent finishing, but he needs to use his physicality far more. Hopefully a new found focus from losing his starting spot will bring that out but he needs to make sure it’s channeled correctly and not like it was in Croatia against Dinamo Zagreb.

Meanwhile, another Arsenal forward, Joel Campbell, has been speaking about his best traits as a player and insists despite not enjoying the best of times in terms of minutes played and getting on the score-sheet, he’s ‘always thinking about scoring’. The Costa Rican said:

I think I’m both (a creator and a goalscorer). I know it’s been many games with scoring, but this doesn’t put pressure on me, although obviously I’m always thinking about scoring. Although I’m not in my best form, I always give 100% on the pitch. I always try to give assists, to help my teammates and to fight for every ball.

I have to say I’ve far from made up my mind on Joel. I’ve really liked what I’ve seen from him in terms of effort, ability on the ball, pace etc and can’t really remember him doing a lot wrong. That said, he’s clearly not quite ready to make an impact on the team and such is our position in terms of striving to challenge for the top honours, we can’t really afford to allow a player to develop in the team at the moment.

It’s certainly a far different situation to just a few years ago when we had several young, unpolished players populating our first team, but times have changed, and I think if Jack Wilshere and Danny Welbeck return to full fitness by January, the best option for the player may be a loan spell away. He’s definitely one I’d like us to keep hold of however, because I think he has it in him to improve an awful lot given regular games in the right team.

See you next week.

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