Where does Welbeck’s recent form leave Giroud?
In what has been an elongated period of negatives for Arsenal football club, one positive along with a few others showed himself again in the impressive 2-0 victory over Everton at the weekend.
No it is not another Arsenal fan over-hyping Alex Iwobi, although he was half decent against the Toffees, it is simply a look into the positivity of an injury-free and hungry Danny Welbeck.
The English striker’s injury woes was something that was so typical of Arsenal, it hurt. At first, reports said that Welbeck would only be absent for a short amount of time. The weeks and months passed by, yet still no sign of ‘Dat Guy’, until almost a year later when we finally saw him back on our bench against Leicester City.
It was a terrible situation for a young player to endure, a prolonged absence which had many worried that it would stagnate his progression – thankfully it hasn’t.
Since his return, Welbeck has in my opinion played his best football in an Arsenal shirt, with his tenacity and pace a welcome relief to our forward line which was in danger of fading away into the doldrums of mediocrity – well actually it did.
Aside from that ill-fated miss in the dying embers of the Watford game, our English striker seems to have galvanised Arsenal offensively and in my opinion, his recent performances have to render a guaranteed starting place. So the question is, where does that leave poor old Olivier Giroud? After all, he has scored 20+ goals in all competitions and he has done that under the pressure of endless criticism and scrutiny.
The pros of sticking with Oli
The general consensus from fans and even Arsene Wenger it seems, is that Giroud’s time in the starting line-up has come to an end.
However, it must be remembered the invaluable service the big Frenchman has provided Arsenal this season. Lest we forget that towards the end of 2015, he was as prolific as any striker in the Premier League.
Every week he seemed to be getting on the score sheet and coincidently this was during our most successful period of the season. He made himself into a physical focal point which the team and in particular, Mesut Ozil, seemed too thrived off of.
He had that knack of turning up in big games, a hattrick in Greece to secure qualification and an impressive brace at Anfield are the two standout highlights for me.
But sadly the cons have to be analysed as well and there are a fair few of them, missing big chances is a good place to start, something which he has been far too guilty of at times; even if he has scored some important goals.
However, Welbeck is also not a saint when it comes to converting chances, perhaps it’s just in the Arsenal DNA at the moment.
The cons of sticking with Oli
It is this point of consistency which will continue to plague Giroud. Despite an impressive scoring run earlier in the season, this was then followed up by a barren run which stretched to 11 games – his worst spell in an Arsenal shirt.
When he’s not on song, he is almost a burden to the team. A clumsy striker who seems unable to find the net and offers very little in other areas. Performances which reflect these traits have been all too common place during his Arsenal career, which is why he has been regularly cited as an issue as to why we fail to challenge for the league.
Furthermore, while I stated previously that his impressive scoring run coincided with our most successful period, it seems as if we in fact player a higher calibre of football in his absence.
The 3-0 demolition of Manchester United was for me, our performance of the season and did Giroud start? No. Theo Walcott actually managed to put in a stellar display that day as we tore our opponents apart with fluid and quick offensive play.
We are a totally different animal when we deploy an attack of this kind as we have seen recently against Tottenham, Everton and at the Nou Camp. This time it was Welbeck who was the focal point of a fluid offensive unit and the standard of our football greatly improved.
Do the cons sadly outweigh the pros?
In my opinion, I believe that Giroud’s time as our main striker has come to an end. His service to the team has been admirable over the years but as a team Arsenal function so much better with a forward like Welbeck.
His work in the channels, pace and penetration have paid dividends for our side and for the first time in a while, ‘Wengerball’ was finally on show again against Everton.
Also, Alexis Sanchez seems to thrive with a more mobile centre forward next to him and any help we can find to revive the Chilean’s form should be utilised as soon as possible.
Sorry Oli, but for the moment it looks as if your position has been filled until further notice.