Tag Archives: Giroud

Team of the Decade Part Two

So, our team of the decade is well underway, with Wojciech Szczesny, Bacary Sagna, Per Mertesacker, Laurent Koscielny and Nacho Monreal comprising our backline.

Now onto our midfield and our attack. Despite our much-vaunted woes during this decade, and our slide away from constant contention, we have still been blessed with many talented players. So picking our best midfield and attack will be no easy task. If you disagree with any choices, let me know – this is very much down to opinion!

 

So, first up, our wingers.

Here’s the pool to choose from:

Theo Walcott

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

Tomas Rosicky

Samir Nasri

Andriy Arshavin

Gervinho

Alex Iwobi

Reiss Nelson

Bukayo Saka

Henrikh Mkhitaryan

Yossi Benayoun

 

The winners? Theo and Rosicky.

Rosicky

Theo

 

The reason this list isn’t longer? It comes down to the adaptation of the players in the squad. So many times we’ve had midfielders and strikers playing the wide roles, and with the use of 4-2-3-1, the conventional wideman has been replaced by wide forwards.

But the two above are more than deserving. If it weren’t for injury. Both would have an even higher standing amongst the fanbase.

Still, some will point to Walcott’s profligate finishing and lack of end product. Some will point to the meagre amount of games Rosicky played thanks to aforementioned injuries.

The stats don’t lie though. Theo amassed one game shy of 400 games for us, and scored 108 times, with 78 assists. That is nearly a goal involvement every two games – not bad for an inconsistent, one-dimensional player. He was much more than a speed merchant.

Then we come to Tomas. We all adored the little Czech, and for good reason. When free from injury, he would grace the pitch with beautiful touches and instinctive play that added to attacks effortlessly. He still made 248 appearances for the Gunners, scoring 29 times and making 22 assists, but it was the way his style embodied the way we aspired to play that we will remember.

 

Now for the engine room. It has been a bit ropey at times in the centre of the pitch, as the majority of the decade was taken up by a search for an effective defensive presence. Here’s what we have to choose from:

Santi Cazorla

Granit Xhaka

Aaron Ramsey

Jack Wilshere

Mohamed Elneny

Jo Willock

Lucas Torreira

Mesut Ozil

Mikel Arteta

Francis Coquelin

Lassana Diarra

Denilson

Alex Song

Mathieu Flamini

Cesc Fabregas

 

The judges choices? Santi and Aaron.

Cazorla and Ramsey

There were a few here who could have justified their place in the team of the decade. Jack Wilshere’s injuries left his impact far smaller than it should have been, but when fit, he was one of our best. Then there is the enigmatic Ozil, who can go from sublime to ectoplasmic in seconds.

But the chosen two were the most impactful. Ramsey scored 65 goals and registered 65 assists in his 371 games in our colours, and his specialty was scoring in big games. We’ll never forget his FA Cup final winners of 2014 and 2017, and while his midfield play was occasionally errant due to roving forward, he contributed far more than the others on the list – and is a missed player in our current ranks.

Santi is beloved for good reason. His first full season saw him pick up our player of the year award and wreak havoc in the Premier League. With Ozil’s introduction, he had to find another position but such is Santi’s talent, he repurposed himself as a box to box man, and he excelled. Truly two-footed and always played with a smile on his face, Cazorla made 180 appearances, scoring 29 times and making 45 assists.

 

Lastly, we have our strikers.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Eddie Nketiah

Alexandre Lacazette

Lucas Perez

Olivier Giroud

Lukas Podolski

Marouane Chamakh

Chuba Akpom

Yaya Sanogo

Danny Welbeck

 

This is a toughie. Aubameyang is in with a shout as his goal ratio since joining in 2018 is extraordinary. LAcazette’s goal involvement too is pretty impressive and was last season’s POTY. I’ve always had a soft spot for Welbeck and he always put in a shift whenever he played, but the two strikers for our team of the decade are;

Olivier Giroud and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Giroud

Just imagine these two as a pairing. Giroud excelled at incorporating others into our attack and Auba would thrive from the little flick-ons that Giroud specialised in.

Giroud may have sullied his name with his post-Europa League Final exploits, but let’s not forget what he did. 105 goals and 41 assists in 253 Arsenal games – that’s a ratio of a goal involvement every 1.73 games.  His highlight reel is a glorious one too, he scored so many beauties for us.

 

Auba

Auba is the man keeping us afloat right now. 43 goals in just 67 PL games, with 10 assists. That is perilously close to a goal involvement in EVERY game. 18 goals in 33 Europa League games. His goal threat cannot be underestimated and if it weren’t for Auba right now, we would be much further down the table. His instincts are sharp, his contributions are huge, Auba has to be in the team.

 

So, our team of the decade is:

 

Wojciech Szczesny

Bacary Sagna

Per Mertesacker

Laurent Koscielny

Nacho Monreal

Aaron Ramsey

Santi Cazorla

Tomas Rosicky

Theo Walcott

Olivier Giroud

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

 

Not bad.

What do you think? Drop me your shout in the comments below!

#UTA

Welbeck the Team Player

We Gooners can be an affectionate bunch.

The term ‘fan favourite’ is one that can be applied to many of our past and present players, and the parameters to attain this level of adoration – for Arsenal players – are wider than most fanbases.

Remember John Jensen? The Dane came to Arsenal off the back of an incredible Euro92 campaign with Denmark, and proceeded to score a solitary goal in his four years as a Gunner. Yes, he was a decent tackler, but in the cold light of day, it wasn’t his performances that keep him memorable.

The same can be said of a few others, where their skills on the turf may not have been made tangible for all of us to see, but the mere mention of their name brings forth a nostalgic grin.

Danny Welbeck is not one of those players who never showed us what he can do. On the contrary, ‘Dat Guy’ was full of nifty touches in and around the box, with a decent awareness and a hell of a tank on him to boot, that allowed him to mercilessly track up and down whatever flank he was tasked with.

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The bottom line for a striker though, is goals – and Welbeck never got close to what was needed in this one area.

Welbz did however, score some memorable and important goals. Who can forget his Cup goal versus his former team? Or his goal after returning from a nightmare injury – a five minute cameo that gave us a late win over Champions-to-be Leicester?

Welbeck came up with the goods in so many ways, just not the way that a striker is judged on – and now with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and young upstart Eddie Nketiah all vying for a striking spot in this new regime – do we have room for affection?

Olivier Giroud was a prime example of this. The Frenchman gave so much more than goals – his hold up play and touch to bring in others were superb. When compared to Welbeck he could even be described as prolific – but his lack of a killer edge in the box meant he was surplus to requirements, despite the love we had – and still do – for him.

Welbeck has scored 15 goals in 80 appearances in our shirt. Yet for England, he has a ratio of nearly a goal every other game. The way he is utilised is key – when donning the three lions, he is first and foremost a striker – but at Arsenal, he is so much more.

Welbeck’s performances and talents for our club benefit the whole team. Play him on the left or the right and you keep it far tighter than if you were to play another wide forward, and your attack is knitted together that little more succinctly too. He constantly runs, stretching defences who are forced to track his tireless darting, and this means space that our more ruthless attackers can profit from.

Sometimes, you need players who are selfless. Welbeck in the eleven means better cohesion. Doesn’t it speak volumes that he can play across the whole forward line and still make a massive difference? Welbeck is a squad player we can trust – and one we have faith in – just not in front of goal.

If an offer comes in for the England man, no one could have any qualms with him moving on in search of minutes on the pitch.

Still, if we could offload Joel Campbell and a few others rather than Welbeck, then our squad – especially when the games come thick and fast – would wholly benefit and be stronger for Welbeck’s inclusion.

He is Dat Guy for a reason.

Buy and Sell – Trimming the Fat in the Transfer Window

This latest transfer window was viewed as a success by the majority, even though the need for a centre-back and a holding midfielder was glaringly overlooked.

Such was the strength of our additions, our paucity for defensive and midfield options didn’t really impact on the optimism in regards to our transfer actions. Bringing in Henrikh Mkhitaryan represented shrewd and much needed purchases, and puts our attack at the very front when it comes to goal threats.

There was another element that made this window a surefire winner though, and it was the fact we cleared our squad of the driftwood that contributed little to our results.

Coquelin in a Valencia shirt
Walcott left for Everton

Managing to cut loose Mathieu Debuchy, Theo Walcott and Francis Coquelin freed up valuable squad space that could be filled with superior options, or a chance for a promising youngster to come through the ranks.

Losing Alexis Sanchez would hurt any side, and the Chilean going to a rival only added to the burn, but having Alexis in the side means we had to play a certain way and limited our options. Plus, Alexis broke the record for amount of times a player has lost possession in one game in United’s 2-0 win over Huddersfield recently. A record he previously held.

It is no coincidence that since he joined, we have lost our regular ability to thrill the crowd and generate moves that draw gasps from the purists and fans alike. The first match we played without Alexis and with our new boys? We played the football that we’re famous for.

Of course it’s early days, we shouldn’t get too carried away, but having our goal threat spread out over Mesut Ozil, Mkhitaryan, Lacazette and Aubameyang is in-keeping with the passing moves we implement. We rely on runners into the box, rather than waiting for one man to produce.

Another loss that could hamper us is Olivier Giroud. The much-loved Frenchman has also departed for a rival, but Giroud’s role was selfless and his introduction into proceedings gave us something different to what we currently possess. We can cope, but having him to call on benefitted us. It would have been selfish to keep him as he needs to play with the World Cup looming, but I fear we may miss Giroud more than we miss the mercurial talents of Alexis.

Mathieu Debuchy and Theo Walcott hadn’t started a league game this season. Francis Coquelin wasn’t playing either. They get first team football, we get a squad place and some cash to reinvest, whether that is through a fee or recouping wages.

Debuchy in a free transfer to St Etienne

Recruiting wisely as we have done, and selling the squad players who were not playing, means we’ve trimmed the fat and not lost any ability to put out a strong side. We still have those players that can come in and do a job and help with rotation, and every man we have in the group can make a difference.

For once, we’ve ticked the majority of boxes and ended a window far stronger than when we started.

Thank you Olivier Giroud

The arrival of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was a double-edged sword for us Gooners.

It was first and foremost great news. We have captured a player we’ve all had our lusty eyes on for some time. One who rampaged his way through the Bundesliga as part of a slowly dismantling Dortmund side, outscoring the majority of players with his pace and accuracy.

Then, there is the fact that we lost one of our favourite – and most effective – players as a result of the signing.

Farewell and thank you Olivier Giroud.

The Frenchman was marginalised at first, perhaps for the fact that his handsome features meant he wasn’t the right mould to puncture the rigorous defences of a Premiership team.

Then, his frustrations and rolling around on the turf added weight to the claims that he didn’t have the mettle for the rough and tumble of our league.

Giroud was made of sterner stuff though. He adapted, his frame was used to great effect and we saw that he was more than a front post poacher. His approach play was in tune, his link-up play was perhaps the finest of any striker in the Premiership.

He never made the magical 20-goal mark, but it dawned on us all how very useful he is.

Last season really showed us though, that he had an affinity with Arsenal. He told us how he was warned that he wouldn’t be first choice with the arrival of Lacazette, but he decided to stay and offer his services to further our cause.

This season saw him rise valiantly from the bench on more than a few occasions and make a difference, so much so that his goals landed him level as the equal most scorer as a substitute in the Premier League.

He earned his starting role with Les Bleus, but with a World Cup on the horizon, could we be selfish enough to keep him with us for those sporadic cameos he does so well? Knowing that doing so would most likely ruin his World Cup dream?

No, we did the right thing by letting him leave. Unfortunately, it was to Chelsea. The destination may not suit us, but it will keep him firmly in the eye of Didier Deschamps.

He’s done enough for us that we wish him well, even though he’s joined a London rival. That is a testament to his actions for Arsenal.

Giroud joined us after winning a surprise Ligue Un title with Montpellier, for a bargain £12m. He scored over 100 goals for us since his arrival in 2012. That is some return for the money.

We can never claim he was prolific, but we can definitely say he was useful and gave everything for our badge. He was charismatic, he played his part off the pitch and on the pitch? He did more than enough to earn our affection, which he has got in spades.

He deserves our well wishes. We can overlook the shirt he currently wears, because we all know that underneath it, his heart will always beat red and white.

Merci Olivier.

Who is the best backup in the business?

There are many credentials required in order to be classed as a true contender in football.

The majority of heavyweights who slug it out on the European stage normally have a wealthy benefactor, a half-decent pedigree and a squad peppered with talent.

It is the squad though, that perhaps best underlines the strength of a club. When an outfit hopes to fight on all fronts, they must rely on their lesser lights in order to remain relatively unscathed.

When Manchester United won the treble, they had four strikers who would have graced the majority of Europe’s top teams. Andy Cole and Dwight Yorke were a lethal combo, and Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer provided a steady stream of goals.

When we won the Double in 2002, we had Thierry Henry – the greatest player in Europe -, the genius of Dennis Bergkamp, the efficiency of Sylvain Wiltord and the unpredictability of Nwankwo Kanu to fall back on.

These teams could boast such a huge array of striking talent to keep teams guessing and on the back foot, and this all happened nearly two decades ago.

They do provide a good yardstick though.

Do clubs now have the same depth that their more illustrious past brethren had?

United have Romelu Lukaku and Marcus Rashford as their two preferred attacking options. Now the sole striker formation is far more conventional than it was back in 1999 and 2002, it places less emphasis on needing four strikers. United still need backup though, and in Zlatan Ibrahimovic, they seem well armed on that front.

Our team is far weaker than during our golden generation. Now we have an adept and skilled Alexandre Lacazette, with a soon departing Alexis able to slot in to the forward line when the need arises. Our backup is Olivier Giroud, and the Frenchman has gone from ridicule to lavish praise during his Arsenal career.

I think it’s safe to say that we all appreciate how good Olivier is, and what a sterling job he’s done since finding a starting spot hard to maintain.

Who has the best backup though? Does Ibrahimovic have the edge now as well as having the far bigger trophy cabinet? Or does Olivier win it by a nose thanks to his lesser years?

This season has seen Olivier Giroud become the most prolific substitute for Arsenal, and he has bagged four goals thus far, compared to Zlatan’s none. It is worth mentioning that Giroud has played 276 more minutes than his Swedish opponent.

It is last season though, that is telling.

Zlatan played double the amount of minutes than Giroud did, as he was United’s main man last season before Lukaku came onto the scene. Yet Zlatan only bagged five more goals than Giroud did, scoring 17 to 12. He also only grabbed two more assists than the Frenchman.

Giroud was also more efficient in front of goal, with 59 percent shot accuracy compared to Zlatan’s 55 percent, and a superior aerial duel success rate.

So, it seems clear that despite a lack of minutes, Giroud can hold his head high and claim that he is indeed worthy of a start. Will that be elsewhere rather than at The Emirates though?

His situation is different to Zlatan’s. The tall Swede is in his twilight years and even though he hasn’t lost his effectiveness thanks to an excellent level of fitness, he realises his time at a top club may be on the wane. Zlatan could still do a fantastic job at most clubs.

Ibrahimovic has had one of the most glittering careers. League titles in France, Spain, Italy and the Netherlands. His goalscoring record even at United is in keeping with his record elsewhere – 28 goals in 46 apps. Follow www.betfy.co.uk/ for more.

Giroud has never been as effective in front of goal as Ibrahimovic, but in terms of being an effective team player, then he’s every bit as valuable as the one that refers to himself in the third person.

West Ham Vs Arsenal – Match Preview

A London derby has a habit of destroying form books and league superiority. No matter where the opponent is in the table, the geographical closeness negates it and the atmosphere levels the playing field.


West Ham are coming off the back of a fantastic 1-0 win over Chelsea at the London Stadium. They were resolute at the back, industrious in the middle and effective up top. They have another home game, and the fans will be bang up for it.


Arsenal, on the other hand, scraped a somewhat fortunate 1-1 draw at St Mary’s, as our awful away record continued.


Southampton may have seen fewer of the ball, but the best chances fell to the feet of Charlie Austin, Ward-Prowse, Redmond and Boufal. We looked ponderous, with precious little movement in between the lines. We were the Arsenal that stutters and costs us points. We’ve seen this incarnation of our side many times, but it never gets any easier to deal with.


Now, we’ve got another away game, against a team buoyed by recent results. We need a performance, and now.


The festive fixture list is cramming games in every three days, so squad rotation will be key. This game comes three days after the Saints draw, and three days before we face struggling Newcastle at The Emirates. We need to keep pace and be ready to punce when our rivals drop points, rather than dropping them ourselves.


So, Giroud’s late leveller saved us from the ignominy of defeat at St Mary’s, and the Frenchman may be ideally suited to West Ham. The Hammers have some big boys in defence, and the presence of Giroud could keep them busy enough for our runners to slip in. Danny Welbeck is another option so we can keep Lacazette fresh.


Jack Wilshere also appeared as a substitute in the draw with Southampton to good effect, and he will be hopeful of a start, either in this game or certainly against Newcastle in the weekend. Much will depend on whether Ramsey is fit after he was limping against Saints in the weekend.

Shkodran Mustafi is still doubtful, so Mertesacker, Chambers and Holding will all be in with a shout for the next few games, as fatigue and injuries bite.


West Ham haven’t won at home against us since 2007. They have one other win since that time, a 2-0 win at The Emirates in 2015. 


Aside from those two occasions, it has been a goal fest for Arsenal.


I’d feel confident predicting an Arsenal win, but I’ve no idea what Gunners side will show up. We seem unable to string more than two victories together with regularity, and that is exactly what we need. It is our away record that is severely hampering us however.


Two wins on the road in the league is concerning. The 5-2 win over Everton was great, and the 1-0 win at Turf Moor was heartening, but we too often look brittle or we choose the wrong approach to the game. Our home attack is full of verve, and West Ham, if faced with the same, would struggle to keep us at bay.


So, we may make some changes, but it is not the lineup that concerns us too much. It is the style we showed in our draw with Southampton, our loss to Watford, to Stoke, to Liverpool. We need to eradicate this version of us if we are to keep pace with the Top4.


Predicted lineup – Cech, Holding, Koscielny, Monreal, Bellerin, Wilshere, Ramsey, Kolasinac, Ozil, Alexis, Giroud.


Predicted sccoreline – 3-1 to The Arsenal.

Giroud – Winning Awards and Winning Hearts

Published on Goonersphere. ​

Olivier Giroud has been at the club for nearly six years. In that time, the striker has bagged 101 goals (at the time of writing) in 163 starts.

This type of return from a striker is enough to usually warrant a permanent place in the hearts of all fans and a gold-etched place in the annals of the club’s history.


For Olivier Giroud though, earning the adoration of Gooners has been a laborious process at times. In the first few seasons of his Arsenal career, his frustrated gesticulations, penchant for writhing on the floor and his failure to notch 20 goals in a Premier League campaign were stains upon his name.


There were many, including experts from every media source, that believed Giroud was a notch below what Arsenal needed. He was effective at times, but he could never scale the heights necessary to sit amongst the best in the business.


It is said that you find the essence of someone in times of adversity, and this rings true of the bearded Gaul.


As his assured first team spot started to be put in the shadow of doubt, Giroud had two choices.


Would he go to a club that truly appreciated him? One that would guarantee him the two things he wanted – games and the love from the fans?


Or would he stick to his guns and show everyone what he was capable of? Would he show how much he loved the club?


Many attempt to display their affections in faux showings of badge-kissing and costumed words. Giroud took the Rosicky route – staying and fighting for the badge.


The opinion on Olivier – and for other players too – started to sway when his actions made a difference. His cameos from the bench would often bring a goal, sometimes it was the winner. If it wasn’t a goal, his minutes on the pitch almost always changed the path of a match. The sight of Giroud coming on started to resemble hope in the face of difficult odds.


Giroud’s tendency to score goals that could be put on canvas and sold as art has helped a lot in the barometer of opinion. His side-scissor volley in 2015, his long range netbuster against City and of course his Puskas-winning scorpion kick. If a player like Neymar or even someone looked upon more favourably like Alvaro Morata had scored any of these, then they would be lauded.


Finally though, Giroud got the credit he deserved, and on the biggest of stages. His Puskas award was utterly deserved, as is the respect from fans he now enjoys.


His link-up play in and around the box. His defensive efforts on set-pieces. These strengths are common knowledge but further evidence of his standing.


His hat-trick against Olympiacos, a goal and assist in a draw against Manchester City, a late equaliser against United. Don’t dare try to say he isn’t a big game player. Giroud has also had the minerals to cut out the weaknesses that critics used to beat him with. 

His strength came to the fore, his histrionics on the deck are now history. He now takes his frustrations out on opponents.


What has perhaps sealed his name in Arsenal folklore though, is that he declared he was staying even though it was clear he wasn’t first choice. The majority of spoiled players these days simply up sticks and go elsewhere, but Giroud didn’t. He came out and reaffirmed his loyalties. He said he wanted to stay.


His contract ends in 2019. If he decides to leave then, he can rest assured his legacy is set in stone. He may not be a Wright, an Henry or a Smudge, but Giroud will be remembered fondly, and the majority of us Gooners can see his worth quite clearly now.

We are lucky to have him.