What an uplifting feeling it is to play another FA Cup final in May, the third in the last four years.
It’s been fantastic to see Rob Holding handle his Wembley debut with such composure, to see Gabriel offering us his best Martin Keown impression, to see Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain put in a cherry of a cross for Nacho Monreal’s equaliser and, overall, to see a flawless performance from a team that was utterly disappointing, as of late.
Among all those winners there is a loser, though, someone who didn’t get any benefit from the new 3-4-2-1 formation and who looked completely out of his depth, both against Manchester City and Middlesbrough – Olivier Giroud.
The French striker could barely make an impact on both games and seemed to suffer in this new system, he wasn’t involved as much as he should have and left a very worrying impression of not being suited to link with two players behind him.
On both occasions, the majority of match reports and players’ ratings were telling the same story about the former Montpellier front-man being isolated, not receiving much service and going very quiet – when not suggesting that the team looked better when he was substituted against Manchester City.
It has to be said that he didn’t receive much assistance from either Mesut Özil and Alexis Sánchez but that might be down to his movement around the box – or its lack of, to be precise.
I could see a bunch of strikers salivating at the idea of combining with the Chilean and the German, and both proved to be able to create plenty of chances for each other through smart movement off the ball and quick touches.
Could Olivier Giroud simply not be the right man at the right place?
Although he recently signed a contract extension, he is still on the list of those players whose future at the Club is under scrutiny and there are rumours of Olympique Marseille being very interested in making him their marquee signing this summer. In addition there are talks of several strikers being monitored by the Arsenal, something that should not sound new to any Gooner at this point.
Last summer it was Alexandre Lacazette and Jamie Vardy – who we had signed, basically, only for him to turn down the contract offer – and before it was Karim Benzema or even Robert Lewandowski.
Then, none of those was signed and Olivier Giroud slowly won his place back and fought off the relatively soft competition from Danny Welbeck and Lucas Pérez.
He did very well, actually: he scored a decent amount of goals, he provided some good assists and played well, to his limitations.
We cannot really complain about his commitment and performances but the team looked so much better with a different kind of striker in the mould of Alexis Sánchez.
If it wasn’t for this sudden change of formation, he might be relatively sure about his role in the squad and his chances to be regularly included in our starting XI; this switch to 3-4-2-1 system changed everything in the blink of an eye and left Olivier Giroud sweating over his future.
It would be somehow unfair to ditch him, especially with the exaggerated amount of criticism he got since he joined, but this Arsenal side needs a quicker, more mobile and more clinical striker in front of our two best players and Olivier Giroud simply doesn’t fit in.
I have no doubts that we’re bringing in a new striker in the summer, regardless of Alexis Sánchez contract situation, and he’s likely to be the opposite kind of forward, compared to Olivier Giroud.
To my eyes, it will either be a case of the Frenchman being a super-sub and accept the idea of having limited game time or him being sold.
At 31 years of age soon, he is entering the final years of his career and he has a big call to make – Stay and be a bit-part player or go and enjoy the last three-four years as the main spare head at another Club?
So far, Arsenal has represented the pinnacle of his tortuous career, so leaving would be a difficult choice but he could be the main man at a very good Club in France or Italy and keep grabbing the spotlight.
It’s time for the Arsenal and Arsène Wenger to set the emotions aside and do what it takes to build a competitive team – one that could actually aim for big trophies; I feel a bit heartless to write this but there’s no place for Olivier Giroud in a winning team, you won’t see an Olivier Giroud at Real Madrid, Barcelona, Juventus or Bayern Munich.