What to do with Olivier Giroud in the ‘New Arsenal attack’?

Does Giroud still feature in the new, Alexis-as-CF, Arsenal?

Ollie G is an interesting case, because I don’t see him as a starter at all. This isn’t because he’s not good enough, as he certainly is. Instead, it’s because our style of play has changed to be based around an attacking quartet of players who are all mobile and interchangeable. The first choice seems to be Iwobi/Sanchez/Ozil/Walcott, with all of them flying around the opposition half attacking from different angles with rapid interplay. It’s hard to defend against this style of play.

Ollie G, on the other hand, is suited toward a style of game where a strong CF acts as an attacking focal point, a fulcrum around which attacks are launched and goals come from headers, knockdowns and late runs from supporting attackers. That’s how we played last year and teams were becoming adept at playing against it.

Looking at our bench for a reserve attacking quartet, we would be better to have a combination like Ox/Perez/Welbeck/Ramsey where again there is a plenty of pace and finishing ability, but, more importantly, they can play the same attacking system and maintain the same understanding with our attacking fullbacks and midfield duo. We have to play with one system and become incredibly efficient at that system, if we are to match Man City and the European giants this year.

Giroud’s role in both of these teams is not as a starter in my view, but perhaps as a very different plan B to have available when for some reason we are unable to break through with plan A. Whether or not it is generally feasible or effective to attempt a shift from a plan A to a plan B mid-game is of course up for debate – I suspect it is not.

I sense that our team has evolved, and that the next step up for us is to make our combinations so rehearsed that they become intuitive, almost instantaneous, and able to withstand the loss of one or two individual players. But I also feel a bit sorry for Oliver Giroud because he is being, and perhaps must be, left behind by all of this.

What do you think fellow Gooners?

By davydavy

12 thoughts on “What to do with Olivier Giroud in the ‘New Arsenal attack’?

  • Excellent post for a worthy and necessary discussion, davyx2! 🙂

    I reckon Alexis is indeed our new nr1 CF and that is why he has dared to say something like he can be as good as Messi or Ronaldo… He knows he will be the new main man. As back up I reckon we have bought Perez who can probably play the same ‘role’ very well. Ollie can also play the role, and in fact Alexis is playing the ‘Ollie role’ with the added mobility and speed, which Ollie simply does not have.

    But yes it is a change in style and I reckon Giroud will struggle to fit into it. In fact, he should not try and do it but stick to what he is good at. If and when we face deeply parked busses Ollie will be very valuable, either as a starter or as a super sub.

    I have got to go but more later.

  • Think how ManCity deployed Edin Dzeko just a few years back in the midst of their title runs. He was a change of pace sub. Against teams where you could expect numerous corners/set pieces. City had every bit as much a fluid and pacey group of attackers as Arsenal has now. Over those three seasons where MC won two titles– Dzeko scored 19/15/26, times including 14/14/16 in the League.

    Don’t bemoan OG’s role. Find a way to utilize him as MC did Dzeko.


  • Really interesting article Davy. I think Ollie still has a role to play but just not as prominent as in recent seasons. I think Arsenal’s attack has indeed improved this season but I think a lot of it has to do with the selection of wingers and a central attacking midfielder that better suits the strengths of Alexis in contrast to the combination Giroud was required to work with last season. That said, whether it’s Giroud, Alexis, Perez or Walcott, I think the main lesson for Arsenal to learn from our promising start this season is the importance of ensuring the players selected in the wing and central attacking midfield role best compliment the style of play and strengths of the chosen centre forward in order to foster greater attacking cohesion.

    For example, Alexis when deployed in the centre forward role likes to drop closer to the midfield to join in the build up play. To best capitalise on the space Alexis creates by vacating the centre forward area, Arsenal need to deploy wingers like Perez and Walcott who are effective at making off the ball diagonal runs into that space and beyond the opposition’s defensive line and a creative central attacking midfielder like Ozil, Cazorla or Iwobi who can combine with Alexis and execute the through passes necessary to meet the off the ball runs of the wingers.

    Alternatively, when a player like Perez or Walcott is deployed in the centre forward role, they like to sit on the shoulder of the last defender and make runs beyond the opposition’s defensive line wherever possible. To best capitalise on the off the ball movement of this style of player, Arsenal need to deploy the likes of Ramsey, Cazorla, Iwobi or Ozil in the wing and a central attacking midfield roles given their effectiveness at combining to create opportunities for the centre forward to make those attacking off the ball runs.

    Whereas for a player like Giroud who is strong in the air, good at flicks and knock on and likes to take up central positions in the opposition’s penalty box, a combination of a central attacking midfielder like Sanchez or Ramsey who is willing to take up goal scoring positions in the box to feed off Giroud and either effective crosses of the ball like Ox and Ozil to capitalise on Giroud’s aerial presence or penetrative and direct dribblers like Iwobi and Sanchez who can play off Giroud’s deft touch to create goal scoring opportunities better compliment Giroud’s strengths.

    So I think Giroud most certainly still has a role to play. His effectiveness in that role though, like Sanchez, will depend upon the combination of players Wenger deploys in the wing and central attacking midfield roles and the degree to which those players compliment his strengths.

  • 84, I’ve not seen enough of Xhaka to have an opinion tbh…
    Coquelin brings a drive, physicality and desire to our midfield, which is a very valuable component to any team/squad and something we tended to lack in the recent past, which equated to us being ‘bullied’ in certain games.
    Not anymore I think, hope…

  • A very interesting post regarding an interesting question.

    The first thing I will say is this. Olivier Giroud is a fighter, and there is no way he will just give up his position and fade away. I believe it was demonstrative that Wenger chose to bring on Giroud instead of Perez in the Chelsea game.

    And yes, it was apparent that the team struggled to adjust to Giroud midway through a game. But he still managed to have a near post flick, which are kind of his trademark. It is important that the team be able to adapt because Giroud’s gifts, limited as they are, are also unique in this squad, and he will certainly play a part in any title challenge we are to put up.

    Much like the debate over Xhaka not playing, Giroud not playing is a bit of a storm in a teacup to me. It’s a long season. He’s come back late from the Euros or he’d have played more anyway. He’ll get his chance, even if Alexis is our first choice cf going forward.

    What I like is that we have so many options of how to switch it about, and who to leave out entirely, that we need to consider these things. It’s been a while, but we’ve gradually built up a very decent squad indeed. Whoever plays needs to show that they’re up for it.

  • Ah some great comments on here. Davyx2 is based in New Zealand so not sure when and if he will reply to the comments.

    jw1: excellent point re Dzeko’s role for MC, and yes Giroud is quite a bit like him.
    Waldo: very insightful comment and all agreed.
    Shard: agreed Ollie is a fighter and the season is long. We are lucky to have him in the squad as he indeed brings something others do not have.

  • Great post Davy. Also loved jw point about Dzeko. We forget how useful he was for city.Those goal stats are better than i thought.

    In my opinion, i think, if Alexis is staying at cf, which im warming to …T, the allotment of minutes should go as many here have said. Olivier against certain bus parking tactics, using crosses more… but hopefully much more often like against Chelsea. When we have a lead, and a big guy to work hard on set pieces and use his strength in protecting our lead.
    If we’re sesrching for goals, we can add lucas at times.

  • Good one, Davy…More please (in general, on any topic of your choice)… 🙂

    We’re only a couple of matches from the late draw with PSG where consensus was that we looked MUCH better when Ollie entered the match. The analysis for that one was that his hold up work allowed us to keep the ball in their half, finally create a bit of pressure so that we could eke out the goal. My point: it’s a bit early to worry too much about Giroud not being a productive factor for us this season.

    My thought is that he gets used more against the really strong defensive teams (i.e., not Chelsea…) who will not allow themselves to get pulled out of shape with a speedy false 9 (Alexis) nor get lured into playing a high line to be exploited by the likes of Theo or Iwobi/Lucas. It sounds like Ollie is still fighting for fitness (turf toe?…) but I too watched some of the Burnley match yesterday and thought he’d be useful there on the weekend–at set pieces but also at breaking down their very disciplined 2 lines of 4…

    Overall, he’s a great weapon to have and defenders don’t relish having to match up against such a big fellow–probably even more when he comes on late in a match. If those situations curb his injury faking and begging the ref (which wastes time and sometimes sees him sent off…) he’ll surely approach his full potential. If he can net those Dzeko-esque goal totals as less than a full time starter he will still be integral for the Arsenal…

  • Thought provoking post Davy. My immediate reaction was Dzecko, but I was too late to the draw. I still see Ollie as a key player, when he on form his front post flicks and heading ability can be key weapons. It’s definition a squad game these days and if we are going to win things this season we are going to have to utilise a big percentage of the squad. For instance Gibbs looked good when he came on at the weekend and Elneny couldn’t even make the bench.

  • I did, and I really appreciated all the comments above. I can only go along with the comments that Giroud still has a role to play, probably a big one. He has many strengths, like battering opposition centre-backs, controlling high balls into the box, attacking and defending at set pieces, and of course scoring with those neat near-post finishes of his. He can be a game-changer and it’s good to have him in the squad. Just as 17HT says, the last thing a defender wants to do after chasing the likes of Alexis, Theo and Iwobi for an hour is to have to face the physical strength and height of Ollie.

    I’m really enjoying our new attacking style, how it adds a new dimension to our team and how it brings out the best in our squad. It’s great how Arsene can continue to innovate after 20 years at the club!

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