Despite the fact that Olivier Giroud only came on to the pitch for Arsenal last night with 25 minutes left on the clock, meaning he played for about half an hour with the injury time added, I think the France international forward was a good candidate for the best player in an Arsenal shirt. The Southampton keeper Frasier Forster easily deserved his Man of the Match award.
Giroud turned the tide of the game in our favour and was involved in the build up to the late winner from Alexis Sanchez. Just a minute before the Chilean star scored his 14th goal of the season from six yards out, Giroud had neatly grabbed the Gunners all three points with a great header that looked in until Forster produced a breathtaking save that recalled the famous moment when Pele was denied by Gordon Banks.
That was one of three attempts by the Frenchman, with his two on target the same as Danny Welbeck managed in his 81 minutes. Giroud’s stats compared to Welbeck’s show just how much of a difference he made, with 16 passes compared to 19, passing accuracy of 88 percent compared to 79, three shot assists to one, 26 touches to 36 and he made the same amount of tackles as our new striker in his short time on the pitch.
Maybe Welbeck is feeling the weight of so many games or maybe the solid Southampton defence was just too good at keeping him quiet. The 23-year old is still young and relatively inexperienced in the centre forward role and I’m sure he will keep improving. But Giroud is the in form player and Arsene Wenger must surely start with him in the middle when we travel to Stoke on Saturday.
Stoke have lost their last three games so they will be even more defensive than normal and with the likes of Shawcross in their team, it will definitely be a physical battle, more suited to Giroud than to Welbeck. Arsenal will still have plenty of pace on the flanks, perhaps with Welbeck starting there, but maybe Chamberlain instead. Giroud, however, must start in the middle. Do you agree Gooners?