Giroud and Walcott; Not What You’d Expect to Hear from Me

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Both the Olivier Giroud debate and the questions surrounding the Theo Walcott contract issues are constantly in the blood stream…so why not chime in with my two cents. I also intended to go into the question of why we don’t need Morgan Schneiderlin, but seeing as how Jake (see Jake’s piece here) unknowingly screwed me on that one, I’ll slap him around later and blame it on his drinking habits.

We can do better than Giroud, but we don’t need to
I will admit that I have been critical of the former Montpellier target man ever since he first came to North London. He’s not the striker we have been accustomed to having, considering our leading men that have come before him go by the names of Wright, Henry and van Persie.

Giroud has indeed had to prove himself from the minute he put the shirt on. I, and many other of similar opinion, have always said, “he’s good, but we need better” – my opinion on that has changed, but perhaps not in the way you might think. Yes there are better strikers in the world than Giroud (a few of them reside in Manchester alone…both sides of it), but to acquire one of them would take far more money than we would want to spend, or even consider doing.

Yes we are constantly linked with Edinson Cavani, Jackson Martinez and even recently with Robert Lewandowski, but those are 40million pound purchases that truthfully are not necessary.

Giroud has shown improvement each season since coming to the Emirates, and I crunched the numbers to confirm that opinion.  (Note: DFK = Direct Free Kicks)

Giroud Table

source: Squawka.com

 

After the number crunch, it’s hard to argue against the notion that Giroud’s over all game has not only improved since coming to the club, but that it will continue to do so. However, my issues with Giroud, is that he is not the killer we need…though he can certainly turn into the one we have been craving.

It’s worth noting that in the three years we’ve had the big Frenchman, every summer saw us bring in a creative midfielder – Santi Cazorla in the same summer, Mesut Özil the summer after, and Alexis Sánchez after that. Bring to the mix the additional creativity of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere and Tomáš Rosický, and there is truthfully little to no reason why Giroud cannot make a real push for being the top scorer in the Premier League…yet, he has never had a season where he has scored more than 16.

Many will say that this season could have seen Giroud get to 20 goals in the league, but truthfully it’s a tough argument to sell to some. Yes he has 13 goals in 19 league appearances this season, but half of those came in the past month and a half at the most. His predatory instincts have indeed improved, but his consistency has not, which is one of my biggest concerns with him.

Let’s also take into account that for all his ability to hold the ball up brilliantly and bring others into the attacking fore, he truthfully does not pass the ball incredibly well (as shown by a passing % that has yet to get to the 70% mark), and not getting nearly as many assists as you’d expect from a center forward such as him. Truthfully, that is my point. I like Giroud, but I’d like to see less of him trying to create for others and more of him being selfish in and around goal.

Given our style of play, we already have an overload of players who think pass first…do we really need our top striker having that same mindset? When you look at Wilfried Bony, a center forward who many felt would be worth bringing in and an upgrade on Giroud (note: I did not say I thought that, just for the record), he is quite astute at hold up play as well, however when given even a half look at goal, he has a go – truthfully, this is what you need from a striker.

Now my fellow Gooners, Olivier Giroud is not a bad striker at all, and the numbers continue to show that he does deserve to lead the line for us, but the balance of his play dictates that he does need to become more selfish. As stated before, with the creativity in abundance in support, truthfully, I’d like to see more goals out of him, which is why I don’t think he needs replacing…just adjustments. Adjustments are free, not 30million pounds, and at the end of the day, he’s earned the right and the ability to show us all that he can be the goal scorer we need.

There’s no need to replace Walcott should he move on
Marco Reus, Paulo Dybala, and now Raheem Sterling – three wingers we have been routinely linked with recently in the wake of the Theo Walcott contract nonsense. With positive opinion on Walcott decreasing on the daily and with the campaign in its final stages, it’s time to consider that we could very well be without him come August. For me, personally, I’m not worried about us if he does press on, but most importantly, I truly don’t think we need to replace him with a signing.

Some have posed the idea of a cash plus Walcott move for Sterling should Liverpool be unable to agree terms with England international, and while that sounds like a brilliant idea on the surface, it’s one that risks us undeservingly slapping current players straight in the face.

It may have been a bit of fortune that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain finally got a real chance to prove himself via Walcott’s injury, but there is zero debate about just how well he took his chance – for me, he’s shown that he’s a better all round player than Theo. He’s better with the ball at his feet, able to beat players on the dribble and not just for pace, he’s more physical, he works harder on both sides of the ball and he’s more creative. With all that being kept in mind, why would we reward Ox for his efforts by bringing in a signing to replace Walcott and thus relegating Ox back to the bench?

Those of you that will argue that it’s always good to have depth in quality are already forgetting how many attacking players we currently have – we’re overloaded as is. Apart from Ox, we have Özil, Cazorla, Welbeck and Sánchez all able to play in any position behind Giroud, not to mention we still have Joel Campbell on the books as well (though he’s surely leaving in the summer, as is Podolski). But there is one more player so many forget we even have…Serge Gnabry.

Still held in very high regard in both Germany and at the club, does anyone else think it’s time that we put a little more faith in some of the younger players we have? It’s a little bit ironic of how similar both Chamberlain and Gnabry actually are, and once fit by next season, should Walcott indeed leave the club, I think it’s time he become Ox’s understudy the same way Ox played that same role behind Walcott.

This summer will no doubt be an interesting one, and with questions still surrounding parts of our defense as well as the potential of us bringing in a holding midfielder, why spend over the odds on players that will take time to settle when we have Ox ready and raring to go, with a young and eager player still needing to prove himself right behind him.

This is a side that still needs to improve both on the pitch when it comes to our play but also when it comes to the quality we have in our first-team. As Jake and I have discussed before on a number of occasions, we are not to the level of City or Chelsea yet, and should United make Champions League next season, they are sure to invest heavily once again. On paper, we are not at that level, so it’s going to be difficult to turn down an opportunity to bring in someone like Reus should we actually have a real chance. But just like with Giroud and so many wanting to bring in a bigger striker, sometimes you have to keep faith in players who have truly earned a place in the XI, and for me, we’d be far better off with Chamberlain patrolling the flank – he’s earned it, he’s young, and he has nowhere to go but forward.

Andrew is our newest regular columnist here at ABW.  You can find him on Twitter here (@AFCBvB1410).  When not writing for us, Andrew also writes for Outside of the Boot and the Modern Gooner. He loves a good football debate; so don’t be afraid to chat with him on Twitter.

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