Giroud injured – Who to play: Pod, Bendtner, Sanogo, Akpom or Theo?

Giroud, Giroud, Giroud is on fire: but what are we going to do if he gets injured?
Giroud, Giroud, Giroud is on fire: but what are we going to do if he gets injured?

Among fellow Gooners, the overriding feeling with regards to our current team is that Arsenal are now very strong in midfield, good to very strong at the back, but a bit light in attack.

The big question we are all asking ourselves is what we are going to do if Giroud (knock on your mini-hampton Glic) gets injured.

There will be a new post later this evening, but for the sake of a bit discussion, I would like to ask BK readers to tell us who we should play instead of Giroud and why.

Before you do so, however, I would like to point out that Giroud’s role/contributions in our current team/line up/system of football are as follows:

  1. Giroud’s main role is to be the central attacking hub up-front: he is the pivot to many of our attacking moves and provides his fellow strikers and midfielders with a ‘base’ up-front. For that he needs to be good at playing with his back towards the opposition’s goal, not get outmuscled easily, be able to shield the ball well, have a good first touch and pass the ball accurately. It is fair to say that OG is not the finished article in these areas, but he is constantly making progress;
  2. Although OG will always be judged on his goals, in our current system we should also judge him on his assists, as well as his ability to make space for others and allow them to join our attack. The latter is a lot harder to measure, but is nevertheless key to this role in our current formation/system of football;
  3. As a result, we should look to replace an injured Giroud with a player who can do the same, and not focus entirely on the ability to score goals or produce assists;
  4. Giroud puts himself about across the pitch, is a force in defending set-pieces for us and continuously works hard to put pressure on the opposition defenders and midfielders.

You might believe there are more attributes/aspects Giroud adds to our team, and if so, please share them with us.

But, taking the above into account, and assuming that Arsene will want to continue with our current 4-2-1-3 system as much as possible, who should replace Giroud in case of injury, and why: Akpom, Bendtner, Pod, Sanogo or Theo, or….?

Also, if you would like to make your predictions for the coming season, please go to:

Finally, to support a locally based new band, have a look at this:

Written by: TotalArsenal.

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We had the perfect TW, actually… An optimist’s perspective?


Before the TW and all its attendant terror, the main discussion was, as always, around two things:

  • Who had to go, and it was a large number including: Squillaci, Arshavin, Denilson, Djourou, Santos, Bendtner, Chamakh. Opinions were also split on Mannone (not good enough) and Gervinho (too Jekyll and Hyde)
  • Who had to come: GK, DM, ST were the main calls, with lesser calls for defenders.

I am thus presenting an optimist’s view, perhaps, although no one can be as optimistic as Glic and his tattoos, which says that this TW was wildly successful. I base this assessment on 3 metrics, like any good engineer, offering a measure of redundancy in my analysis!

  1. Net Flow or Team Quality (TQ) – where the goal of the TW is to raise your average quality, admittedly while keeping enough players to make a side. Thus, when an Oiler buys their third national side, the team quality doesn’t go up much, was it worth it? Equally, for Everton, Fellaini out of a strong(er) midfield and Lukaku in is likely a big improvement for them for this year. I fear them more not less now.
  2. Risk (R) – will said player achieve vs what is paid, in terms of when you need that achievement at that position. Thus, coverage is included here as well. Suarez was always high quality but the risk of him being out and not delivering was also high. Equally, Fellaini offers little risk to ManU, but little return, leading to…
  3. Quality of Return (QR) – what can the players and modified team (potentially) achieve in terms of improving the team’s outcome in placing, cups etc. No sense to pay 100M for no change in cups or outcomes, which makes the risk of say RMs Bale investment somewhat high if they don’t win any more than last year.

So, I think this summer we did great, and here’s why.

Total Quality of TQ: We got rid of all but the world’s greatest striker from our deadwood and both mixed opinions. We added a potentially very good youngster who will play in League Cup perchance (Sanogo), a very good GK with option to buy who will provide the necessary competition for Scez that (somehow!) Fabianski does not, a solid DM with Adamsesque bite and mongrel (for free no less), and possibly the world’s best creator if we let our Cesc blinders slip a bit.

For me, the deadwood out is critical, it frees us now and long term. There was no way Squillaci or Santos was going to play, even if we had only 1 defender left on the squad. You’d have seen JW playing LB first! Thus, why have them?

Finally, we have seen glimpses that OG will become more clinical this year. In fairness, last year he was not so good but with ball to feet he has been very good in front of goal so far. Well may it continue.

I think there is little argument that our TQ is now far, far higher than it was a week or two ago.


Risk or R: There are two aspects, achievement (or player failure) and coverage. First, achievement: I think that the positions with least risk are defenders and creators. Defenders can always fall back on their own physicality, fitness and Presence!, and fit into most systems easily enough. Thus, low risk. Creators, all across the park at any position are equally lower risk, as they rely primarily on ball holding skills that they always have, vision and passing accuracy. Thus, as long as the supporting cast is good their skills transfer anywhere pretty easily, although putting Ozil into Stoke would be a waste! J

Hence, we got one of the world’s best creators in a scheme that favors them, a very good defensive DM, and Sanogo is the long term bet for no money. The GK should also be fine.

Hence, I think there is virtually no risk in our TW activity from an achievement standpoint.

Next, is coverage. The complaint on the various e- and bloggo-spheres is that we didn’t get a defender. In that regard we have:

  • Central defender: Per, Koz, TV (when healthy), Sagna, Flamini
  • Outside defender: Jenks, Gibbs, Monreal, Sagna, Flamini

There are some youngsters too for the League Cup. Equally, some loan deals also have a mid-year return built in if one has nuclear war type injuries and loses far too many players. I would be surprised if we didn’t have that with Coquelin for example, at a cost of course.

Similarly, we are now relatively well stocked in the more defensive midfield portion as well, and can really offer some teams different “looks”. I am particularly excited about our ability to look very offensive with Ram-Teta, and equally more aggressive with Flam-Sey or Flam-Zorro (warning: I have copyrighted all nicknames! J ). There is also Flam-Shere which would be like Flam-Zorro but with more aggressiveness.  Overall, with Zorro, JW, Ramsey and Flamini we are well placed.

It will also allow a full year for Diaby to recover and we may thus have him signed for the third or fourth time next year! One can only hope his outlook improves finally.

Out wide, injuries to Poldi and Ox don’t help but will be recovered. Meanwhile, we have Santi, Theo and JW, as well as Gibbs with Monreal back deeper to help out.

Equally, the Ozil signing frees JW to play both offensively and defensively in various combinations, or even out wide where Poldi, Ox, Theo, Santi, and others roam. We should be able to offer so many different looks of quality that others will fear our overall Presence! in midfield, no matter that they park the bus or play us straight up.

Finally, the ST. I want to point out we still have the world’s best and that he will never play for us. I think not even in League Cup, perhaps. OG is more clinical and I think Ozil will give him great service. Equally, Ozil with Santi and Theo wide should remove 1-2 defenders from clinging to OG and swarming him. Ozil is the one magic player that will make OG even better.

Hence, I think there is very little risk in our TW activity from a coverage standpoint, especially with January and ~40M or more on hand coming soon enough. Injuries, we already have a lot of, but if they get worse, well that’s life. But, I think we are more than well placed to be very confident about two things:


1. Our ability to really stick it to any team we play

2. Our ability to stack up against the best in Europe (1st up is BD in group stages!)

Thus, I think we were actually very low risk

Quality of Return or QR: Finally, I think I’ve said it all, but to repeat shortly:

  • Ozil will make Theo, Santi and OG better. He will allow JW to develop. I think he will score ~8-10 goals but have 20+ assists and we will score at least 10-15 more league goals because of him. Given last year’s defense that would allow for something like 3-4 more wins easily and a few more draws (i.e. far less losses), and we would have been at or near ManU.
  • Flamini: will add bite and defense within a system and culture he knows well. He offers now so many looks with Ramsey and JW and Arteta that we should be far more organised and full of Presence! down the middle. His experience will also improve Ramsey and JW I think

Sanogo and the GK are the future and competition.

So, our quality for just two players, IMO, the exact right two players by position and choice, are going to make a huge impact on our ability to compete for the EPL, cups and Europe. Injuries always are a risk, but January is soon

Hence, I think we got a very high QR this TW, better than anyone in Europe and far better than some think, both for direct contribution and how those players will impact those around them.

The Future:

In future, I hope for Diaby to come right, or for January or next summer to see us get a more proper long term solution at DM. I’d like a little depth at the backs, but think we are solid now, and can afford to wait on the youngsters to develop.

A SQ striker, … Well, there were actually very few STs moving this year if you look at it. They have the greatest risk of not fitting into a new system and scoring immediately, as we know from history, and with the WC coming, I think many would not move unless they were highly confident of their national team position (eg Bale who’s not really a ST)… From the standpoint of Jovetic, you have to wonder what he’s thinking now… In my opinion we can wait on it and there is always Theo or Poldi when better, as anyone should do well in front of Ozil et al. And if not, there is January or the dreaded Dane.. J

Cheers, I am optimist at heart I guess!


Written by: jgc.

Deadwood gone, the Flame returns, Marquee signing made: the big TW summary


During the summer, after the end of last season, we were told there was money to spend by the likes of Wenger and Gazidis. As a result, Arsenal were linked with almost every player who had a feasible chance of signing for us by the media. Throughout the summer, after Arsenal failed with a number of bids for the likes of Williams, Rooney, L.Bender, Suarez, and Arsenal pulling out of a number of deals for the likes of Williams, Fellaini, Gustavo and Higuain, we went into the new season missing a number of players through injury and with only one addition: French under-21 international Yaya Sanogo.

After the Villa loss (which saw even more players pick up injuries) fans wanted some new signings to come in as soon as possible, and rightly so. We then went on to play Fenerbahce in our CL play off tie before going away to Fulham in the EPL, and returning to the Turks for the second leg of our vital CL play off tie – still without any signings. Luckily we managed to win all of those vital matches.

Arsenal fans were still quite worried about how we would fare in our match against the Spuds, as we would be going into the North London derby with no new signings and still a very thin squad; meanwhile, Tottenham would be coming into the match with a number of quality signings and a much bigger squad. A bit of good news came before the match with Arsenal announcing that Flamini was set to return and would be eligible to play in the North London derby. Arsenal then went on to win that match 1-0 with Flamini forced to come on for Wilshere, who started to feel unwell during the match.

Now the Spuds match was done, many fans were hoping that Wenger would finally go into the transfer market once more and get the players we desperately needed to compete at a higher level than we currently were, which he did.

This summer transfer window saw Wenger and co get rid of most of our ‘deadwood’ (Mannone, Santos, Squillaci, Johan, Denilson, Coquelin, Gervinho, Arshavin, Chamakh and a whole load of youth players), but excluding the likes of Bendtner, Frimpong and Park (who are still at Arsenal), by either selling, loaning or releasing them while bringing in a number of new players (Yaya Sanogo, Mathieu Flamini, Emiliano Viviano and Mesut Ozil), but fail to bring in Demba Ba on a season-long loan deal from Chelsea.

Let’s take a further in-depth look at the four signings which we made during the summer transfer window:

Yaya Sanogo


Our first summer signing came in the form of French under-21 international
Yaya Sanogo. The young Frenchman arrived from French Ligue 2 side Auxerre on a free transfer and is definitely one for the future. Signed on a long-term contract, he was given the No. 22 shirt, which was previously the shirt number of Francis Coquelin before he was sent out on loan.

Yaya possesses a very good first touch and is technically sound. His strength and size automatically makes him very good at playing with his back from goal and he is very athletic for a player of his size.

He is known for being a very explosive player who can combine his pace and strength very well; much like Christian Benteke does (who he has been compared to) to get past defenders by beating them for pace and out muscling them.

He has already made appearances for Arsenal against Galatasaray during the Emirates Cup (where he made his Arsenal debut), Fulham in the EPL (where he came on for Lukas Podolski), and Fenerbahce in the second leg of our Champions League play off tie.

During his appearances he has looked a bit out of his depth but that is to be expected. He is a young player who is still developing and has not yet adapted to playing at the top level.

He is a young talent with raw potential, which must be nurtured if he is to reach his full potential. He has all the necessary attributes needed to become a successful center forward in the English Premier League and could be a very big player for us in the future, by offering presence to our attack. My only worry is that Sanogo is injury-prone and has suffered from injuries in the past.

A good signing by Wenger (very promising young player on a free) as he continues to build for the future: if he can now stay injury- free he could make a really big impact for Arsenal in the future.

Mathieu Flamini


With injuries starting to plague our squad during pre-season and early into the new season, the former Arsenal man was resigned by Wenger (also on a free transfer) on a two year deal with an option for the deal to be extended for a third year, just in time for the North London derby. He was given the No.20 shirt.

Wenger himself said he had no intention of signing Flamini but his positive attitude and really good fitness levels, along with our injury crisis changed his mind. This was shown when he was forced to come on during our match with Tottenham in place of Wilshere. He put in a very solid performance which helped us secure the win keeping a clean sheet in the process.

Flamini is a very experienced player who has Premier League as well as Champions League experience. He was also part of the Arsenal squad which won the FA Cup in the 2004-05 season. The fact that he used to play for us is even better. He knows what Arsenal is all about, knows how to play Wengerball and we did not have to pay a transfer fee for him. Then add that Mathieu is a very versatile player, makes this purchase even better. He can cover a number of positions on the pitch (CM, DM, RB, LB etc.) which makes him very useful in the case of injuries, which is almost certain to keep members of our squad out at times throughout the season. He will mainly act as cover for the injured Diaby which might mean Abou can finally have the time he needs to recover fully from his injury, without having to come straight back into the team while he is still recovering from his injuries.

A wise signing by Wenger, and a no brainer in my opinion. Flamini will add much needed depth to our squad as our utility player. My only worry, as with Sanogo, is that Flamini has suffered from many injuries throughout his career. The last thing we need is another injury-prone player on our books so let’s hope Mathieu can also stay injury- free.

Emiliano Viviano


Our first deadline day signing was Emiliano Viviano. We signed the Italian international on a season-long loan from Palermo with an option for a permanent deal. Emiliano will provide back up for our current No.1 GK, Wojciech Szczesny while also acting as competition and pushing Szczesny for the No. 1 GK spot.

This is quite a good move by Wenger.
We now have added depth for the GK position on a sort of one season trial. Based on his performances Wenger will be able to either sign him to a permanent deal or choose to let him go back to Palermo and look for another experienced GK.

Mesut Ozil


Having already signed Sanogo and Flamini before deadline day, Arsenal fans were expecting at least one big name arrival. While it was reported we were close to signing Viviano on a season-long loan many reports emerged that Arsenal had agreed a fee with Real Madrid for Ozil for around £40-45 million. As the day went on further details emerged and the deal seemed to progress with Ozil undertaking a medical and agreeing personal terms with Arsenal. The deal was reported as close, and then done, awaiting official confirmation.

Apparently the official announcement was going to be made at 4pm which didn’t happen, and then the official announcement was going to be made at 6pm which didn’t happen. At this point, I along with many other Arsenal fans, were starting to get a bit worried that transfer talks may have broken down over wages or another club had hijacked the signing, but finally the Ozil deal was announced late into the night.

Arsenal football club needed to make a statement of intent and show fans, pundits, clubs around the world and most importantly our own players, that we are serious about wanting to compete and win trophies. Signing one of the best playmakers in the world has done just that. Our marquee signing, which was signed from Real Madrid for €50 million (around £42.4 million), will most likely wear the No.11 shirt.

The German international is a brilliant flair player, who is at his best when playing behind the CF/ST as a number 10. He has very good ball control, agility, dribbling skills and pace just like our very own Jack Wilshere has. He has great vision, passing range (technical ability) which he can use to create loads of chances for other players and can even score goals himself. He is also very versatile, as he can play on either wing as well as a CM and is a brilliant crosser of the ball which can only help Giroud get better service.

For more information on this fantastic player we have signed, click on the link below to read a great post written by fellow blogger HH, that analyses what Mesut Ozil has to offer to Arsenal.

So with these additions (considering everyone in our squad is fit) I can see our team line-up (best eleven) looking something like this:

AFC new first eleven

Szezesny will likely remain as our first choice GK with new signing Viviano pushing him for the starting spot. Fabianski will most likely play in the early rounds of the two domestic cups we are currently in.

I can see Wenger sticking with the CB-pairing of Mertesacker and Koscielny as this was our best combination last season. Despite Sagna’s good performances as a stand in CB I can see him moving back to RB as he is our most experienced option, with Jenkinson making some appearances there during the season. Very hard to say who will be our number one LB: I can see both Monreal and Gibbs starting matches with Wenger likely to rotate them throughout the season.

Arteta is likely to come back into the team in place of either Ramsey or Wilshere, as Mikel (our vice-captain) is the leader of our midfield and our team. His calm and collected approach in the middle of midfield is often vital to our victories. Wilshere has suffered from several injuries and is still recovering from these. Wilshere will need to be handled carefully and protected until he is fully fit and has overcome his injury problems; meanwhile, Ramsey is on fire and is really developing his all round game.

Wilshere will not be able to play matches week in week out, so I see Wilshere and Ramsey being rotated with Arteta regaining his place in our midfield. I can see Flamini being our 4th choice for DM, coming into the squad to fill in for any injured players either in midfield or defence. Diaby may also come back into the squad if he can finally stay injury- free.

Walcott will retain his place at RM/RW with the Ox deputizing for him when needed, while Santi will most likely remain out wide on the left, operating in a free role with Podolski as back up. Ryo may make a few appearances this season in the two domestic cups as well as in the EPL. Ozil will come straight into the side at the expense of Rosicky who will become back up for the CAM role.

Giroud will definitely remain our first choice ST/CF to lead the line as he provides a structure and purpose to our attacks. He will be able to bring the likes of Santi, Ozil and Walcott into play through his good hold up play. Sanogo will get a chance to prove himself throughout the season, which will mainly be in cup matches with a few EPL appearances. I can even see Bendtner starting matches for us in all competitions; he is a similar player to Giroud as he can offer the same structure and purpose to attacks with his hold up play, which is better than Giroud’s and can be used to bring midfielders into the game.

In my opinion this transfer window was not a particularly good one or a bad one. I would say this was an ok transfer window in terms of the players signed. While we made a big marquee signing, signed a very experienced and versatile former player, signed a good solid GK and signed a very promising ST, we failed to sign some of the players we needed. We failed to sign a world class ST, top quality DM and young CB/experienced RB.

Saying that, I can see that Wenger, in terms of signing super quality players – adding the final pieces of the puzzle – is taking it one step at a time. Wenger has shown a willingness to spend big on world class talent and building a title winning team is a gradual process.

In future transfer windows I can definitely see Wenger trying to sign a young CB to start the process of rebuilding our central defence, as Vermaelen, Koscielny and Mertesacker are all starting to age, or buying an experienced RB to come into the squad with Sagna moving to CB; a top quality DM as a long term replacement for Arteta and Flamini; and a world class ST who come into the squad and play in our biggest matches while giving Giroud some competition.

For the four competitions we are currently in (EPL, CL, FA Cup and the League Cup) I feel our current squad with the new additions could/should achieve the following:

EPL- 3rd place finish

In terms of potential EPL champions this campaign has been as open as it has ever been. The return of Mourinho has seen Chelsea improve significantly, while the appointment of Moyes at Manchester United have seen United drop from their best. Manchester City have spent as they always do, but there seems to be a bit of uncertainty as to how Pellegrini and Manchester City’s new look team will fare over the entire season. Whilst Liverpool and Tottenham, who have also spent quite a lot of money, will be expecting to get into the top four.

I can see Chelsea remaining very solid throughout the campaign and my bet is on them winning the title, while I can see Manchester City and Manchester United fighting for that second place finish, which I feel Manchester City will come out on top for; which will then lead to us fighting United for that third place finish. For me, we are not genuine title contenders just yet.

We are missing the one or two super quality players needed to turn us into title contenders. If Wenger can pull off one or two more massive signings before next season we will be genuine title contenders and we will also be able to challenge the best teams in Europe in the CL.

CL- Quarter final finish

With the addition of a world class player such like Ozil and the signing of a versatile experienced player like Flamini, we should be aiming to get into last eight of the Champions League. Players like Ramsey and Giroud have improved massively, Wilshere is starting to get back to his best, whereas Monreal will be able to play for us in the Champions League (something he could not do last season), and not to mention the addition of Viviano who is a good solid GK.

FA Cup- Winners

Wenger is very likely to go with a strong team throughout the FA Cup. In the early rounds he may choose to play some of our very promising young players, but I feel when it comes to facing other EPL sides, or even sides from the Championship, he will show he means business and play the best eleven available for that particular fixture. In the latter stages of this competition we may get knocked out by the likes of City and Chelsea, who have larger squads but we will and should be very close to winning this competition.

League Cup- Winners

Wenger again is very likely to go with a strong team throughout the League Cup. In the early rounds he may choose to play some of our very promising young players, but I feel when it comes to facing other EPL sides of even sides from the Championship he will show he means business and play the best eleven available for that particular fixture. Again, in the latter stages of this competition we may get knocked out by the likes of City and Chelsea who have larger squads but we will and should be very close to also winning this competition.

As Arsenal fans, all we want is for our team to be able to compete for trophies. For us to do this, Wenger needed to buy players. In my opinion, I feel the players Wenger has signed have improved the quality of our squad while increasing our overall squad depth. While the CL and EPL is probably out of our reach (for this season at least), there is no reason why we cannot go and win a FA Cup or League Cup to end our trophy drought, or even win both as well as challenging (coming closer) to the likes of Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea in the league and start to catch up with the elite teams in Europe.

Are you happy with the players we signed?

Did we sign players in the positions we needed to?

Where do you see us finishing (in all four of the competitions we are currently in) this season with these new additions?

Written by: AFC