Yesterday morning, Arsenal Football Club confirmed news which had all who heard it gasping in amazement. Or shrugging their shoulders and saying “I told you so” to anyone they could find who would listen to them. Yes, the signing of Olivier Giroud, the top scorer for French champions Montpellier, was announced. Despite the deal having basically been confirmed at the weekend, by the very people who were in a position to confirm it like Arsene Wenger and the Montpellier president, it’s still news that should excite us all. Think of it like getting a birthday present, you know it’s coming because it’s your birthday- but you’re still excited to open that present. Unless it’s socks. I don’t know anyone who is ever excited about socks. Not even Jo’s dad.
I was excited enough to write a blog yesterday, but due to my computer completely giving up the ghost I was unable to publish it yesterday. Which was probably something of a lucky escape for me; a) because it was a very jumbled mish mash of thoughts and; b) because, yesterday, we didn’t have this quote from Giroud to laugh at:
Chelsea is very nice, it is a great club, but I am not convinced Di Matteo knows who I am.
Yes, folks, it seems our strapping new centre forward possibly, maybe, could have gone to Chelsea but chose to swell the ranks of les francaise in north London. Perhaps we have his friendship with Laurent Koscielny, as well as the “touch” of Arsene Wenger to thank for this new arrival. I suppose quotes like this, like the kind that any Spurs new signing makes, when they arrive shell shocked in N17, “Oh yeah, I could have signed for Arsenal, but I wanted to see what a war zone looks like”, have to be taken with a pinch of salt. Nonetheless, I like it because it cuts intelligently to the heart of the matter at Chelsea- just who is calling the shots? If Giroud can show half as much as intelligence in his play for us, then I dare to dream that we might have a bit of a player on our hands.
The blog I had written yesterday betrayed quite a lack of knowledge regarding our new signing. Happily, Football Weekly regular Philippe Auclair knows all about Giroud and has spoken to Arsenal.com to give us all the lowdown on him. He describes him as “technically far superior” to any of his Ligue 1 contemporaries, which is no surprise but still something of a relief to me. Auclair also believes that Giroud will play centrally, perhaps as a number 9 to Robin van Persie’s number 10 (assuming the skipper stays), that he will score 15-25 goals a season and that Podolski, Giroud and van Persie could all fit into the same team. Which is something you might consider droolworthy. Of course the signing of two top line international strikers has the media feeding us the line, again, that van Persie is off. Because, obviously, this is Arsenal and we can’t just have a bit of unqualified good news, can we? If the skipper is to stay then we can now say that we have some serious options in our front line. We also have, with three proper centre forwards, the ability to play two up top again.
I’d love to see that happen, so much. I do believe that a large part of our recent failings has been the lack of goal threat in the side. Stop van Persie, they say, and you stop Arsenal. I think when you consider that our front four last season largely consisted of Walcott, Gervinho or Benayoun and Ramsey or Rosicky behind the captain then it’s obvious to see why that train of thought runs. However, even if you take van Persie out of the equation, a front three of Giroud, Podolski and Walcott with, maybe, Jack Wilshere behind them seems like… well, just say the names, it seems like a serious upgrade is what it seems. And when you think that we still don’t know where Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is going to really make his mark in the Arsenal team- on the wings, central midfield? Wherever he plays, injuries permitting, you can be certain we’ll be seeing more of him then we did last year. Now, ladies and gentlemen, now we have goal threats. Now, we have options and I’m seriously excited by them.
The Wilshere question is an intriguing one too. If it wasn’t for this super talent that we have on our hands, then I would be crying out for a regular 4-4-2 formation, or at least a 4-4-1-1. But it’s difficult to see how Jack fits into a two man central midfield. I’m not saying he couldn’t do it, we know the rough stuff doesn’t bother him. I just think someone that good needs to be concentrating on keeping us moving and creating chances, in a similar fashion to… Cesc Fabregas, maybe? We could see Jack coming in off one of the wings, not least because to play with Podolski on one side and Walcott on the other would probably leave our full backs crying out for some help. But I think we want to see Jack central, don’t we? That can only happen with the 4-3-3. In my personal view, at least. Perhaps having genuine pace and goal threat on the flanks will reduce some of the pressure previously placed on the main man up top- particularly if we’ve also got a quality striker on the bench.
I ended yesterday’s lost blog with a bit of sermonising about the England team’s failure to rise above the level of the pub team yesterday. I can’t be bothered to go into that again. However, to all the pundits decrying England’s inability to pass the ball as a team, can I please refer you to all the times that Arsenal have been kicked off a football pitch and cried foul, only to be told “That’s the way we do it round these parts”? as you have laughed in our battered faces? Arsene may be a bit of a moany bastard, but at least he understands how the game is meant to be played. And England certainly missed Jack Wilshere even more than we did. I think it’s embarrassing that an England football team made up entirely of the country’s top five clubs (and Liverpool) can have played as they did on Sunday night. Actually, not embarrassing, an indictment. So our way hasn’t won anything for seven years?
So, seven years is nothing compared to a lifetime.------------
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