Tag Archives: Olivier

Giroud – A Tainted Legacy

105 goals in 253 appearances.

Not a ratio to be sniffed at, but at the base level, this is what Olivier Giroud brought to the table for Arsenal.

Just looking at numbers renders other, valuable facets somewhat invisible however.

We overlook the way he held the line valiantly, alone, for so many seasons.

We miss out on him holding up the ball not only with his physical edge, but his nous in and around the box.

We also miss out on the fact he tarnished his Arsenal legacy with his actions in a Chelsea shirt.

Giroud came so close to cementing his reputation as a Gooner favourite. While we lamented the fact he was never a 20 goal a season man, the majority of us saw him and his talents as precious – he helped the team with his actions.

Giroud badge


He wasn’t just about goals, but the above ratio is not poor. Upon joining Arsenal, he had just been the talisman for Montpellier winning their first Ligue Un Championnat. He joined in the same window as Santi Cazorla, Lukas Podolski – we had signed attacking players that would boost our threat.

This was certainly true for the three above, but Giroud never materialised as we thought he would. He scored valuable goals and always earned a respectable number, but he was never a goal machine. Still, his biggest asset was that his touch and awareness led to him being part of some magnificent goals and moments.

In his career in our red and white, his highlights reel will live on. Some truly breathtaking goals were bagged, and his part in Aaron Ramsey’s late winner in the 2014 FA Cup Final cannot be overstated. Giroud loved the club while he was here and never wanted to leave, but squad competition meant if he wanted regular gametime, he would need to find pastures new.

His move to Chelsea was a stark reminder that professional football is still, at the bottom line, just a job to the majority of players. He made the right choice as his modus operandi in choosing a new destination was that he wanted to stay in London for family reasons.

Chelsea needed a frontman, and Giroud embarked on a trip to West London.

This was more than enough for some fans to cut the ties we had with Giroud, but his over-exuberant celebrations after one of our worst days on a football pitch – the 4-1 hammering at the hands of the Blues in the Europa League final – was the straw that broke the camels back in terms of his Arsenal legacy.

Mocking Arsenal

Olivier Giroud, if he had kept his nose clean and performed in the respectful manner that he did in his time with us, would have always had a home with the Arsenal faithful. We would always remember his efforts kindly. He stayed while we struggled. He gave his all for us and left us with some truly treasured memories.

Instead, he is now just remembered as being part of the Arsenal framework that led to our slide out of the Champions League. Even looking back at his famous, Puskas-winning scorpion goal doesn’t do it anymore. Giroud has burned the nerve endings.


It isn’t as bad as the likes of Ashley Cole, Robin Van Persie or Adebayor – those players ended up being panto villains. But where there was real affection for the player – now there is just a vacuous space.

Oivier Giroud could have left something truly special, but in his job search and his antics thereafter – he tainted what he had left us.


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.

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. 

​Giroud Haunted By Arsenal Ghosts

Published on The Arsenal Review

Every club has its heroes, and invariably, those that live longer in the memory are those that grabbed goals.

Lots of them.

Strikers are the glory-getters. The successful ones will forever live on with a golden hue tinging every montage that is on a reel in supporters minds. Strikers always hold a special place amongst fans.

Arsenal in the last three decades have enjoyed a glittering blessing from deities that have bestowed a shedload of goals upon Gooners. The rollcall is not only a who’s-who of top flight attacking – it is the equivalent of the Hollywood Boulevard paved with stars.

Alan Smith. Ian Wright. Nicolas Anelka. Thierry Henry. Robin Van Persie.

The names above make the boots of whomever is chosen to wear them, a little harder to wear.

We as fans, have been spoiled. We now want our strikers to continue this miraculous tradition, and any who fall short are immediately resigned to a lesser status. We are still able to recognise their strengths, but they will never measure up unless their exploits match up to our heroes of old.

So Olivier Giroud had one hell of a job when he joined from Ligue Un winning Montpellier in 2013.

The hirsute Frenchman has been castigated by pundits, journalists and even our own fans for his unique brand of histrionics on the pitch and sometimes, for being just too damn handsome – like it makes his game a little weaker because he takes time on his appearance.

Numbers do not lie though, so let us see how Giroud measures up.

In total goals for the club, the bearded one falls short of course. Olivier has grabbed 69 goals thus far in 164 outings in a Gunners shirt.  Alan Smith had a haul of 86 goals in 264 apps, Robin Van Persie had 96 goals in 194 outings, Ian Wright smashed 128 goals in 221 games and King Thierry a breathtaking 174 goals in just 254 games. Only Nicolas Anelka scored less, with 23 goals in 65 games.

All of these players had differing durations at the club though. Of course their goal total will be affected by longevity, so the real stat worth poring over is goals per game, right?

A goal every 2.37 games for Giroud so far, compared to 3.07 for Smudge, 2.82 for Anelka, 2.02 for RVP, 1.72 for Wrighty and 1.46 for Titi.

So Giroud’s exploits so far hold up well against the strikers who helped forge the club in its current image.

Giroud still falls short though. Despite his higher amount of substitute appearances than the rest, despite the fact he had the best efficiency rating in the Premier League last season – Giroud is still found to be craning his neck up to the heavens when he looks at the strikers who came before him.

Giroud is hampered by the fact he has never broken the 20-goal barrier in a PL season as well. That level is the unspoken barometer when gauging what makes a complete striker, and as Olivier has never breached it, he has often been maligned. 

What is often overlooked though, is his hold-up play, his awareness for his teammates, his front-post prowess. Giroud in many respects is one of the best in what he does.

Until Giroud manages to be a major part of a side that wins the league though, or a side that challenges seriously at the very least, he will forever be in the bracket that lies below the true greats. It is only in the deepest heat that diamonds are created, and the ones who came before Giroud either lifted trophies regularly or their goals held the rest of the team up a la RVP.

Giroud is a fine striker, and one that we should attempt to retain the services of. He can get to 100 goals for the club in the near future and that will push him a few inches nearer to Gunners immortality – but he still has some way to go to stand alongside Smudge, Wrighty and Thierry.

Win a title, keep doing what he has done since he joined. He will always be fondly remembered, but the word ‘legend’ is bandied around far too liberally and has lost its impact a little.

It takes a hell of a lot to gain that status. 

Arsenal Vs Watford – The Warm-Up

The last week has been dominated by FA Cup matters, but today sees a return to the bread and butter of our season, as Watford visit The Emirates in our next Premier League match tonight.

Our last match was a satisfying one to say the least. An emphatic 5-0 scoreline, a return to fitness and form for two of our foremost attackers and the defeat of a team who had developed the knack for dumping us out of competitions meant that it was smiles all round – even for the absent Arsene Wenger.

The Gunners gaffer will again be missing from the dugout as this is his second match of four that he will miss through his four match touchline ban. His absence didn’t seem to affect his players though, even though Wenger will have done all of the preparation for the game before kickoff. 

Wenger will have been given some headaches after the 5-0 FA Cup win, as he will have some big shouts from some of his players to start this game. 

Theo Walcott returned to the side in style with a treble, and we have played our best football with the England man in the team. Will two games in four days be too much for his calf? This workload will probably mean the other hero from the weekend – Danny Welbeck – will be rested. 

Mohamed Elneny’s Egypt have continued their AFCON adventure, so it means Francis Coquelin and Aaron Ramsey are the only recognised central midfielders in stock -if you discount who comprised our engine room against Southampton.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Ainslie Maitland-Niles were ever so effective together, but more than likely they will both be out of the side for the aforementioned midfielders. Lucas Perez was also in excellent form, but Olivier Giroud and Alexis will likely return to the team, as well as Mesut Ozil.

Laurent Koscielny was rested for the weekend, with a view to this crucial Premier League double header with Watford and Chelsea. Petr Cech will also come back into the team, and he will be facing his former side on Saturday. A return to his previous form would be a plus.

Watford are falling quickly down the table, and Hornets boss Walter Mazzarri has dumped some sandbags to lighten the load. Odion Ighallo has been sold for the ludicrous amount of £20m, and Adlene Guedioura is off to Hull City. They did bolster their side though, with a loan move for AC Milan attacker M’Baye Niang and Mauro Zarate who has had spells at Birmingham City and West Ham.

Watford are a real test, and we have seen the devastating effects that taking our foot off the pedal can incur. We cannot take this lightly with one eye on the Chelsea fixture. Dropped points here and the game at Stamford Bridge will matter little. Chelsea play Liverpool in midweek, and this carries a real possibility of dropped points for the League leaders. It is imperative we can close the gap if the chance arises. 

Arsenal are in deceptively good form though. We haven’t conceded from open play in seven home games, and Watford have not won in seven games home or away. This means on paper that this should be a home banker.

The problem is, we are Arsenal fans and that means we all know there are no such things. 

If we play well, then we should go into Saturday’s crunch match full of confidence. 

Predicted Lineup: Cech, Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Coquelin, Ramsey, Walcott, Ozil, Alexis, Giroud.

Predicted Scoreline: 3-0 to Arsenal. 

Swansea Vs Arsenal – The Warm-Up

Arsenal have been the comeback kids of late. What with the Bournemouth game with shades of Banterlecht in reverse, and then Preston showing us that the first half of games are not a myth, we have seen the Gunners show they do exist, but only in forty five minute bursts.

We will need far more against Swansea City who have beaten us three times in the last five games. 

The Swans can also call upon that mystifying and unquantifiable boost that teams receive when bedding in a new manager – the honeymoon period. People may scoff, but it has scorned many unwitting teams who do not believe it exists.

The Swans manager Paul Clement can implement the wisdom he has shared with Carlo Ancelotti at Real Madrid and more recently Bayern Munich, but he must do it quickly. The south Wales side are second from bottom and are shipping goals at an alarming rate. Clement has also called in a surprising Assistant Manager in Claude Makalele, but the two worked together at PSG under Ancelotti and he comes highly recommended, though it is early days for the team. This transfer window may well yield much business at the Liberty City stadium, but none have come in quick enough so Clement’s squad will be boosted for the visit of Arsenal. New striker Luciano Narsingh has a calf injury so is out, and Neil Taylor missses out with a broken cheekbone. It is unclear whether Fernando Llorente will feature amid much interest from Chelsea. 

They may have a great record against Wenger’s team, but it certainly wasnt garnered in Wales. Arsenal have won three of their last four trips to Swansea and they must go there and hope for the same thing again if they are to make any headway in the league table.

Arsenal will be without Francis Coquelin and Mohamed Elneny – Coquelin is injured and Elneny on AFCON duty – so Granit Xhaka and Aaron Ramsey will make up the centre of the Gunners midfield. Long term prospects Santi Cazorla and Per Mertesacker are still a way from being incorporated into plans, but Danny Welbeck made his long awaited return in the Cup win against Preston and his pace and guile will be very useful in games to come. Will he play? Perhaps a spot on the bench. Koscielny will also return to the team after missing out last week. 

Another who returns is playmaker supreme Mesut Ozil. After a bout of flu, the German is back and should slot straight back into the team. Olivier Giroud will most likely retain his place up front as his form is too good to bench. Alexis will stay on the left, but the right spot is up for grabs. With Theo Walcott still out, it means Alex Iwobi, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Lucas Perez will duke it out for the chance. Lucas Perez has really made the most of his sporadic chances thus far, so it would be great to see the Spaniard start the game.

Arsenal have not won any of their last three away games, and this game must herald the end of that awful run. Swansea will fight tooth and nail for the points, but what is imperative is we MUST turn up in the first half. If we do, it could turn the tide. Swansea have only avoided defeat twice in fourteen games when conceding first.

Three points would be great, and the icing on the cake would be to be able to watch the game without the tension of a terrible first half and a gargantuan effort to come back into the game. 

Predicted Lineup – Cech, Bellerin, Koscielny, Mustafi, Monreal, Xhaka, Ramsey, Iwobi, Ozil, Sanchez, Giroud.

Predicted Scoreline – 2-1 to The Arsenal. Giroud to score…..again!

Preston 1-2 Arsenal – FA Cup Keypoints

It would appear that the Good Ship Arsenal has hit a form-storm again.

November always brings the blues for the Gunners, but after two consecutive away defeats, losing ground in the league, grabbing a quite frankly ridiculous draw against Bournemouth – and now escaping from Preston with cup progression – it would seem the respite in December was a false dawn.

Make no mistake, just as Bournemouth should have seen out a win in our last league game, Championship side Preston North End should have put this 3rd round cup tie to bed before half time.

Callum Robinson put the home side ahead in just the seventh minute, after yet another sluggish start from the Gunners. Slack defending saw the vibrant Robinson slot home, and from there, it was pretty much one way traffic as the Deepdale crowd roared their side on.

Callum Robinson could have had a hat-trick and Ben Pearson, Hugill and McGeady all had opportunities to cause a huge cupset. A combination of poor finishing, David Ospina and the offside flag saved Arsenals blushes, and aside from a solitary chance, Arsene Wenger’s side were limping like a lame dog to the half time break.

The second half was remarkable in its contrast. It was as if Arsenal finally realised their superior quality and began to play like they should. Within seconds, they had drawn level, as Aaron Ramsey fired home from the edge of the area. From nowhere they were level.

Arsenal were well on top for the second forty five, and Preston – from ripping Arsenal open at will – did not register a single shot on target for the entire half. the away side did not want a replay, and they fought to grab the winner.

Was anyone surprised that it was Olivier Giroud that grabbed it? In the dying embers of the game, Lucas Perez had the composure and presence of mind to backheel to Giroud, who fired in via a deflection and put Arsenal into the 4th round. 

There was much more that occurred in the game, but here are the key points from this tense fixture:

Giroud loves the big occasions

Step forward Olivier. He certainly has a habit for it. Sunderland, United, Palace, Bournemouth, West Brom and now Preston are just recent examples of times Olivier Giroud has rescued us with his goals. He was pretty ineffective along with the majority of the team in the first half, but his record speaks for itself. If there are any doubters about his effectiveness, then they are ignoring cold hard fact. The stand-in captain for this game was our saviour yet again.

Lucas Perez working his way into view

If there was a bright spot in the first half, it was Lucas. His every touch was sensible, and correct. He uses the ball well, and is always on the front foot. His assist for Giroud’s winner was beautiful, and he now has six goals and five assists this season, despite featuring in fleeting glimpses. Lucas is the real deal, just imagine what he can do with a run in the side?

Welbeck is back, and he will be huge for Arsenal

His fitness has been severely hampered since joining, but when he has enjoyed a run in the side, he has offered so much. Either from the flank or centrally, Welbeck’s workrate, intelligent running and awareness will be welcome now he has returned, after he came from the bench in the 83rd minute after missing out since April. 

Sloppy starts continue to hamper

In the last match review, and I think many others, I have mentioned that our continual tendency to come out of the blocks with all the urgency of a constipated snail is a huge hindrance, and this match proved it yet again. Why oh why is it occurring? We know how we can destroy opponents in a whirlwind of passing and movement, but why do we only do it on about three or four occasions a season? It is perhaps the most frustrating element about our play. a remedy, or an answer would be great.

Maitland-Niles has a future at Arsenal

There is a reason that Ainslie Maitland-Niles has been used more than any youth team player this season. His versatility helps, but he has shown he can deal with the pressure of stepping up. He was severely tested by Preston in the first half, and he could have done better on a few occasions, but he kept his cool and was always willing to take possession. Promising signs from the youngster.

There was a lot more to write about, but the most important thing is that we have kept up our record in the FA Cup of not losing in the 3rd Round since 1996. It was close, but we scraped through. 

With our league position, the cup may just be our best bet for success this season. It’s a good thing we got through then!

We have to do better!!!!!

Arsenal 2-0 Crystal Palace – 5 Key Points

​Boxing Day brought us the win we craved after two successive defeats, and this 2-0 win gave us the gift of returning form – as well as another vital win.

For Sam Allardyce, it was only the second opportunity for him to gauge what reinforcements he would need in the January transfer window. While Zaha, Cabaye, Benteke and their teammates were trying to adjust to new team orders, Arsene Wenger also had to shuffle his pack and change things up a little.

With Olivier Giroud scoring the late winner last week against West Brom, and with Theo Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain both suffering with varying grades of injury – The Ox made it to the bench – it meant Giroud had another start to assert himself.

And boy, didn’t he do just that.

The other news before the game was that Mesut Ozil wasn’t just missing from the side – he wasn’t even in the squad! Lots of buzz revolved around the German and a departure, or a fallout – but such is the nature of the beast, neither were correct. Ozil simply had what millions of us regular people have suffered from recently – the cold. 

Alexis played in his spot, with Lucas excitingly drafted in and Alex Iwobi completed the three behind Olivier. Francis Coquelin was left out for Mohamed Elneny, which would be his last match before departing for the Africa Cup of Nations, and Gabriel stayed in the team even with the return of Shkodran Mustafi to fitness.

Crystal Palace included former Gunner hatchet man Mathieu Flamini in their side, but a reunion with his best bud Mesut Ozil was taken from the French midfielder. 

Instead, he was given the runaround by Xhaka and Elneny.

There was so much to take from this game, but here are five key points from the ninety minutes, that I felt were the most pertinent;

That goal must be revelled in…

Olivier Giroud is much more than a simple target man. We have been privy to his fine front-post finishes for some time now and we have seen that he has finesse as well as tenacity. This goal though, deserves its place amongst the pantheon of simply amazing Arsenal goals. Just enjoy it. He may not be everyone’s Alan Smith or Ian Wright, but he is damn effective. 

Mentality is just as important

Mohamed Elneny and Granit Xhaka have been virtually untested as a duo, and that would have spelled trouble in previous months/years. They played though, with unrestricted passion and movement, whilst not forgetting their defensive duties. It was a great performance from the pair, and proof that if they click into the positivity that the attack brings, they can overcome a lack of chemistry.

Elneny is away

Before this game, I was beginning to forget how effective our Egyptian can be. He hadn’t shown it this season, but how frustrating it is he picks this game to have his best of the season. Elneny always kept it moving, shackled any runs from Cabaye and weighed in to attacks when he could. Xhaka was a great counterweight, and it was so pleasant to see things simply work out for a change!

Alex Iwobi has responded

The young Nigerian inevitably slumped a little after blazing onto the scene last season. His touch evaded him, and the tricks and flicks that had worked so well were now like wet fireworks. His last two games have seen him back to his best, making the difference in tight areas and buzzing around the box, hungry for possession. He was fearless and must be applauded. He will make errors, but players who try the audacious always will.

Lucas starts!

It has been a while! We have pleaded for more game time for the talented Spaniard, and this was the result. He looked pumped, and his direct runs were a menace to James Tomkins, Scott Dann and co. He may not have grabbed a goal, but he showed enough to assuage any doubts for now. He hugged the wing when he needed space, and made intelligent runs when he could. A satisfying display.

There was far more from the game. Alex Iwobi’s goal showed great composure, Gabriel played extremely well and has improved with the extra game time – no surprise there – and Bellerin was tireless in both halves of the pitch. It is reassuring he has recently signed a contract extension! Cech also had a second consecutive clean sheet, and he earned his corn with a string of saves just after we scored our second goal

A comfortable win, a good performance and three points to put us ahead of City. I’ll take that!!

Hull City Vs Arsenal – Match Preview

The last two results for Arsenal can be read completely differently, dependent on your outlook.
Both games – the last-gasp victory over Southampton last weekend and the difficult but valuable draw in Paris midweek – could be perceived to be lucky in nature, with tactics that allowed our opponents to be far more dangerous than they ought to be. 

Lacking a killer edge up front, with defensive lapses that could perhaps have been far costlier than they proved to be.

Alternatively, it could also be the mark of a potentially successful season, the old adage of playing poorly yet snatching results hopefully ringing true.

Either way you look at it, we have failed to hit top gear, and the rest of the season cannot be played with such methods. There will come a time when the talent in our team must rise to the fore, to make the difference in tight games, and put them where they belong. If not, then a season of mediocrity beckons.

Next up on the fixture list is Hull City, a team in flux, but their start proves that no game can be taken for granted. Caretaker boss Mike Phelan has reportedly been offered the position full-time, but negotiations are ongoing, so the uncertaintly continues. 

In terms of team news, it seems more difficult to pick a potential lineup in recent weeks. Arsene Wenger has made some team choices that few would have predicted, and with the PSG game so fresh, there could be many changes.

Petr Cech was left out for the Champions League fixture in midweek, but will be expected to regain his spot in the side from David Ospina, despite a Man of the Match performance from the South American stopper.

Olivier Giroud and Theo Walcott were also left out of the side for the same match, and both require a fitness test before kickoff. Will this mean Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain gets another chance to shine? Will Lucas Perez perhaps be named? Or will ALexis Sanchez be named as the striker, even though he was ineffective in that position until he reverted back to type against PSG?

Santi Cazorla may well be rested after playing both games, and three games in a week when we have a wealth of central midfielders would be uncalled for. The flipside to this though, is that the Spaniard has scored two and provided two so far this season, and is in great form. Alternatives to Cazorla could be Mohamed Elneny, the underplayed Granit Xhaka, or Francis Coquelin. 

There are a few certainties. Aaron Ramsey and Gabriel have returned to full training, but will both miss this fixture, and Per Mertesacker and Danny Welbeck are still some way to rejoining the squad. 

The flurry of games may have adverse effects on fitness, but it can also benefit a player who is searching for form. Mesut Ozil, The Ox, and our new recruits will find this congested fixture list a blessing rather than a curse, and it represents another chance to find the zone that allows their best play to come to the fore.

Hull have many new faces, and one of them may be making his bow for the Tigers. Dieumerci Mbokani, who was on loan at Norwich last season, is now on loan at Hull and could be Mike Phelan’s choice to play up top. The rest of the team may not differ that much from their last game – the 1-1 draw against Burnley – and they have named an unchanged lineup for the first four games. This was a necessity rather than choice, and with a few new boys champing at the bit, there could be changes afoot. 

Hull have a pretty diabolical record against the Gunners on the face of things. One win in eighteen is not a fact to give Hull fans much reason for cheer, but many recent tussles have been relatively tight and with both teams form the way it is, then another match in the same mould should be expected. 

One interesting stat for this game? The last three games between the teams have had no goals at the halfway mark and have had a goal scored in the 90th minute or after.  

There may be fireworks at the KCOM Stadium….

Expected Lineup – Cech, Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Xhaka, Elneny, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ozil, Sanchez, Perez.

Predicted Score – 3-1 Arsenal. Yes, I’m an eternal optimist.