Gooners, Please, If you don’t have to… Maybe?…
This one started out as a comment to Total Arsenal’s fine (previous) post but soon spiraled a bit larger than that, thanks in part to njk84sg’s wonderful comment about bringing Nicklas Bendtner back to Arsenal. 😀
I believe JK was serious, but, if not, I salute you, sir. Consider me a well-hooked fish, fit for a gutting, as I swallowed your bait in its entirely, along with the line and sinker. Maybe JK stands for ‘just kidding,’ after all… More smileys…
The debate over Giroud and Arsenal’s (supposed) need for a ‘World Class Striker,’ a notion put forth by pundit (and truly world-class striker) Thierry Henry, is a great one. Total, I think, brings out much of the trouble with such analysis. The case for spreading the goals around is a strong one.
Additionally, since Henry’s era, so much has changed. Instead of two clubs passing the title back and forth, Arsenal now compete against not just Manchester United but a couple of clubs with even deeper pockets (Chelsea and Manchester City) and a slew of clubs who are desperate to get in on the action, strengthened by proceeds from the massive league television contract.
Goal scorers are at a higher than ever premium but believing they can be bought for a bag of silver and be a team’s messiah can also be a real cross to bear. To further torture (and mix-up) the biblical metaphor: (Robin van) Judas, leading the Romans down the garden path (of Gethsemane) is all you need to know about betrayal. What a shame too all that the grey-haired little boy has done to your National team, my Dutch friend (TA). He’ll always have that diving header beyond a stranded St. Iker, however, I guess…
I also think you (Total Arsenal) are correct that the way Giroud was brought to the team–ostensibly, along with Lukas Poldolski, to replace Van Persie’s goals–will always make him a lightning rod for the support even if Lu-lu (lu, Lukas Poldolski) was the far bigger flop. From an improving generation with real ‘stars’ like Cesc, Nasri and RvP–all of whom jumped ship–our team now is a multi-generational blend of guys working for one another. It’s actually doing alright (check the table…) but will never satisfy that brand of Gooner who believes we should have won the quadruple yesterday or otherwise cannot face the changing money-scape of English football. Giroud, the biggest guy, gets the biggest spotlight… (That’s not completely true, bigger price tags = bigger spotlights. Tim Stillman, in his weekly column on Arseblog, has a good one today on Mesut Ozil…)
OG’s failure in his very first Arsenal match (a nil-nil vs Sunderland) left an indelible mark on many Gooners. Here’s the clip:
It’s been an uphill battle ever since. First impressions (disappointments…) are hard to overcome. Opening day matches, against teams we expect to beat, leave particularly sour tastes. See Aston Villa (2013) and West Ham (this season).
Fast forward to the present.
Personally, I was very excited Giroud got the start vs Everton (and got the winning goal) three weeks ago and I wondered what was going to happen in the battle for the starting position with Theo Walcott. In the next match, at Sheffield Wednesday, He ran like the horse he is (i.e., a bit prancy) for the full 90 but got just about zero service from his mates. Theo (with some petulance, perhaps) failed to warm-up properly and got himself a couple of months in the physio-room as a reward. With that injury–and the longer term lay-off for Danny Welbeck–Giroud is back as our main, er, only, true striker. We will never know exactly what Wenger was thinking, but my hunch was that Theo would likely have started at least a couple of the matches at Swansea, at Bayern Munich and in the North London derby last Sunday.
Now, the load is back on big Ollie’s shoulders. An opener at Swans turned that one our way, while a consolation at Bayern couldn’t. It’s a real shame he didn’t put away any of those chances vs the old enemy. Keen observers (including the defender himself) will note that Gibbs’ goal came when Kyle Walke had to choose between Giroud and the goal-scorer as the cross came in. 3 played, one win, one loss, one draw. Honours even for Ollie at CF, maybe?
Keen readers will already know where my preference lies although I’m very disappointed that Theo did his calf. Maybe, however, our speed-meister has figured out the truism about football fans (or at least a wide swath of Gooners…), “Absence makes the heart grow fonder,”–and the paychecks never stop.
Again, the call for Bendtner back at Arsenal (JK posted a highlight reel to back up his ‘point’) looms large. Me, I’ll take Adebayor, thank you very much. 😀
If absence (from the line-up) does really work, you would think Giroud (and Ozil) would be in even higher regard amongst Gooners given that we struggled so badly last Autumn while he was (they were) hurt, but did much, much better when he (they) returned for the 2nd half of the season. Alas, those first impressions, I fear, outweigh other factors. Alexis Sanchez, whose hard work is always on display, is now seen to have ‘carried’ us through that difficult period. Gooners seem very forgiving of his occasional (and often rather prolonged) dry spells, compared to their assessments when Giroud (or Ozil) fail to fire.
All three players, in my opinion, are critical for Arsenal’s success and that’s not a bad thing at all. Perhaps it’s his size (nowhere to hide at 6’4 and 14 stone) perhaps it’s Henry’s assessment… Although the home crowd will sing his song, Giroud, I think, makes the mistake of playing to it. Strikers need their confidence to be unflappable. Supporters live and die with each goal (or miss). Strikers must rise above.
If that first match looms large, last year’s Champions League home leg vs AS Monaco– where we trudged off 3-1 losers–might be even more definitive. Did we believe, maybe, that just showing up would see us through to the quarterfinals? Theo got a chance in that one (and hit it straight to keeper) but was at the heart of our end of season good moments (hat trick vs West Brom, winning goal in the FA Cup final). Over the summer, of course, both might have been demoted; we were going to upgrade with Karim Benzema.
The jury’s still out–‘innocent until proven guilty,’ and all that–but we likely dodged a bullet there. Even if the player had wanted to come (and Real Madrid had wanted to sell) the price would have been extreme. Like our pursuit of Gonzalo Higuain (and Ozil and Alexis) before him, quality players coming from the spotlight teams in Spain, I think, can really shine at Arsenal–if they have the right mentality. Pound for pound–Euro for Euro–these days, it’s not the worst place to shop.
That said, those players–especially if they’re center forwards–will come into the team with VERY high expectations and not a tonne of time to make an impact. In England, it’s even harder as they get little protection from referees and fans are, perhaps, even more focused on the bottom line: goals. Still, in terms of brightness of the spotlight, it’s not as bad as in Spain, and, for Benzema at least, there would be no Christiano Ronaldo taking shots when he should have passed. Benz, I believe, would have scored a LOT with Arsenal.
He would have missed his share too. He also would have required a huge contract and thus pushed all others upwards. We’ll have to see how this off-pitch issue works out, but it doesn’t seem the most professional thing I’ve ever heard about… I’ve always thought AW could work well with players (esp. the French speakers) who’ve had a bit of bother in this realm, so you never know, maybe we’ll see him in red and white someday. Maybe these recent troubles are on purpose because KB now knows he actually does want a new start at Arsenal.
Perhaps he should’ve just bitten a defender…
Just kidding, of course…
Giroud has had his own moments (who can forget ‘Sanogo starting vs Bayern…’) but there is good talk that he’s trying to be a loyal fellow. This situation with Benzema may yet give Ollie a chance as #1 (this next summer) with France, starting tonight in a friendly vs Germany.
At least the opportunity–with the Gunners and Les Bleus–seems there.
How great would it be if he took it? Checking the table (again…) Arsenal (for now at least) are in the hunt in England and France will be favourites (along with Germany and maybe Spain) at the Euros when they host them. For a late bloomer like Ollie, (he turns thirty next September) it’s all rather now or never.
Even if the future is now, my hope is that Giroud can still learn and improve. We need him now in a very big way–in the league but also to make up for that sending off in Zagreb (meaning he wasn’t available for the home loss to Olympiakos). For Ollie, I fear, it really must come together over the next 6 or 8 months.
For me that means he needs to steel himself to the extreme ups and downs that life as a big time striker demands and just keep at it. Already he seems less likely to complain to referees or (at least) waste time (faking injury) while doing so. That’s a good thing. Make your point but don’t shorten the match (if we need goals).
Sometimes I’d almost like to see him give the V to the vocal “Giroud is a something that rhymes with banker” section of our support, but he’s not quite the type. Instead, in the recent derby, he tried to urge the fans for more noise despite his misses. Some feel that this shows a (galling) lack of taking responsibility; I think it indicates that he knows its a team game and he believes the supporters can be part of that team.
In the end, it’s late enough in his career that, even as big as he is–and capable of being at least somewhat unplayable for many an English CB–I just don’t think he’s the type to get carried away with his own confidence or go on a massive scoring run. How many 30 goal (or even 25) goal seasons will he get for Arsenal? How many hat tricks will he score? The answer (to date) is none. Does that mean he’s not fit for the shirt or that Arsenal cannot win the league with Giroud as our main striker? You probably need to answer that one for yourself. (Please do, we could use a few comments here–serious and/or joking…)
Giroud brings a lot more than goals. Defense at set pieces, hold up play, etc. For me the ‘none’ that bothers me a lot more (than 30 goal seasons or hat tricks) is the one he’s got going this season: no assists. Keep your head down, Ollie and good things will happen.
One last video package… Naah, nah, nah, nanana Naaaaah… Enjoy.