Olivier Giroud has been Arsenal’s first choice striker for many seasons now, assuming the role left behind from Van Persie’s departure in 2012. The Frenchman however never truly replaced Arsenal’s spell of great strikers and as of yet, he is still not hitting the heights required from him. Now, after a lengthy spell out with an injury, he has been replaced up front by a winger converted to striker, Alexis Sanchez. Alexis has grown into the role and is showing real quality in his new position, so much so that even after Giroud’s return, the Frenchman cannot just walk in and reclaim his place.
After scoring twice as a second half substitute against Sunderland, there were calls for Giroud to be reinstated in the side, potentially ahead of Alexis Sanchez or in a new 442 formation with the pair up front. Former Gunner and Arsenal legend Thierry Henry on the other hand, who played in formations where he was partnered with Dennis Bergkamp, or in front of the Dutchman, believes that although 442 with this side is an option, more realistically Giroud is Arsenal’s plan B for now.
Arsenal legend Thierry Henry told Sky Sports: “He can be a plan B. I don’t know if he will be happy coming off the bench but I think you win titles like that. Manchester United had Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Teddy Sheringham. Man City had Edin Dzeko and we had Sylvain Wiltord. Can he accept that? We know the boss, Arsene Wenger, now likes to play with Alexis Sanchez inside and he came on and did the job and he did it very well.”
Having Olivier Giroud on the bench is a very strong option for Arsenal and he’s right up there with Chelsea, United and City’s attacking options on the bench. Even though we cannot base a player’s performances on a single game alone, Giroud showed what an impact he can make from the bench. He was very impressive against Sunderland, but then again we have seen how Giroud’s introduction to the pitch can also have a negative impact on the side. Giroud came on in the 3-0 win over Chelsea and although the striker arguably wasn’t entirely match fit, he slowed the game right down and spoiled various opportunities to get forward. Giroud thrives from balls being played into him, rather than having to chase after them. If we are therefore playing a team with fast defenders, such as Chelsea, Giroud’s impact is minimal.
Giroud isn’t a 20 goal a season striker in the Premier League alone and that’s exactly what the Gunners need if they are going to truly challenge for the league. I think Giroud is more than capable of being Arsenal’s Plan B in attack, he will get a fair number of goals, but as long as Alexis is on form, Giroud is not a starter for the Gunners. But the question is whether or not he’s willing to accept that and fight for his place.