It is a cliché that often comes out around this time. While fans are frothing at the mouth for their club to loosen the purse strings and add to their squad, managers trot out the usual line to curtail supporters’ hunger.
“Let’s not get carried away about making new signings, we have player x coming back and he is like a new signing,” says [insert generic manager name here].
For Arsenal fans, given the club’s injury record, it is a cliché that is perhaps all too familiar for them. However, this time around, it should be filling them with optimism rather than an impending mood of regret.
The world of football has changed dramatically over the last 10 years. The new era of football comes from pressing. Modern day teams are highly drilled both physically and mentally on this art and every team has their own style of pressing.
The question is why can’t Arsenal find their style? I’m sure my blog title is a question asked by a lot of fans while watching Arsenal of late; it even seems to be a question asked by our own players during games.
This past weekend versus Preston you could visibly see Giroud ushering players up the pitch to press the opposition backline, the exact same thing has happened numerous times with Alexis and Özil trying to get players up the pitch previously this season. It’s worrying that we’re halfway through the season and still seemingly unsure of when we want to press and when we want to sit back.
The questions surrounding Arsenal’s center forward have always been a topic of debate; sometimes more heated than it’s needed to be. After being spoiled throughout the years by the likes of Ian Wright, Dennis Bergkamp, Thierry Henry, and Robin van Persie, we’ve been graced by the acquired-taste that is Olivier Giroud.
Opinions on the big Frenchman are akin to his performances on the pitch for the club, divided. On his day, for both club and country, Giroud is capable of brilliance; his goal at the weekend against Crystal Palace showcasing just what he is in fact capable of. But there are other times, where wayward finishing, lethargic running in the box, and remonstrating with the referee more so than putting his nose to the grind have plagued the perceptions surrounding the former Montpellier front man.
Though his goal scoring record for the club is laudable indeed, Giroud has given way to the Chilean energizer bunny that is Alexis Sánchez. Not traditionally a “center forward”, having only been deployed in such a manner earlier on in his career at Udinese along-side Antonio Di Natale, and more recently for the Chilean national team in a front two with Hoffenheim forward Eduardo Vargas – and never the lone man up front. What Sánchez has proven throughout his career, and has gone on and continued to do currently for Arsène Wenger’s side, is that he is incredibly versatile; and it has paid dividends for us this season.