By ‘ABW Guest Blogger’ Goonerholic. (@TheGoonerholic)
Ahead of last week’s Capital One Cup triumph at White Hart Lane Arsene Wenger was quizzed about who his best central striker was. It is a question that has occupied his mind since our inability to secure a big name in the transfer window.
The injury to Danny Welbeck has simplified his options to just the two, although in all honesty both would probably be considered ahead of the former United man in the pecking order were he available.
The Arsenal manager, searching for a response that would not unsettle either or provide a mischievous headline, stayed firmly on middle ground.
“With Giroud it is a competition with Walcott. When one plays people always ask, ‘Why did you not play the other one?’ When you have two top-level strikers, some games Giroud plays and some games Walcott plays. Nobody can play 60 games per season any more.”
“What we want to do is make the right decision for the right game. Giroud is a guy who has a positive attitude, who is ready to have a go. He is a very strong man and with his back to the wall Giroud can always respond. For two guys it can be interesting for the squad as they both have different qualities. They complement each other very well.”
The last sentence was an interesting one. Taken literally It hints at a consideration that at some point in the future we may adjust our formation to accommodate both players up top?
Though that would seem unlikely to be a starting option of choice for the Frenchman who has firmly embraced a fluid formation that can best be described as 4-2-3-1. We have as yet to make that work consistently and on the occasions that is failing us the bold move of removing one of the more defensive midfield pair and going with two central strikers in tandem must be something that Arsene has ruminated on.
Alternatively, it may merely have been prompted by another selection poser currently facing the Gunners boss. In order to start Francis Coquelin, Santi Cazorla, and Aaron Ramsey, the latter has been shoehorned into a role on the right hand side he seems openly uncomfortable with.
Rambo has increasingly taken to coming in off the wing looking to get involved in and around the edge of the box. At some stage Arsene may well consider that Theo might be more productive if utilised in similar fashion.
In order not to stray from the point in question I will conveniently overlook the fact that both options leave Hector Bellerin with a huge workload on the right flank. It may also leave Theo feeling a sense of deja-vu. An uneasy acceptance that he may never escape the wide-role for his preferred berth.
The improved contract he secured for himself in the summer was proof positive of the regard in which he is held at Arsenal, and yet still Theo has to prove his worth in the centre. He cannot shake the belief of many that Giroud has more in his locker, although the French international has been struggling for form and confidence in the early weeks of this season.
It is unfortunate for Theo that he was unable to take full advantage of his rival’s travails. After Saturday’s impressive win at Leicester the job sharers have started five matches each, and the out-of-sorts Giroud is our joint top Premier League goalscorer with three. Theo too has struck three times, but one was in the ill-fated trip to Zagreb in the European Champions League.
Giroud offers an ability to play with his back to goal, which in itself sets him apart. He has the ability to shield the ball and bring others into play. His record of 61 goals in 110 starts for Arsenal is solid.
Theo’s game is more, but not solely, dependent on pace and getting in behind defences. He proved his quality against the high line that Leicester attempted to defend on Saturday. However, against sides that sit deep and are more organized he often cuts a frustrated figure.
Theo is in his tenth season and in only three has he managed double figures, although to be fair he has missed much of the last two full seasons because of injury, and for most of the time was playing as an out and out winger. He has still managed to garner 79 goals from 197 starts.
Hopefully the performance of both will bring back a belief and a return to form. Between them they have three months to persuade people that we were right not to spend for the sake of spending when unable to acquire our preferred targets in the summer.
Let’s hope one, or other, or preferably the two of them produce a run of performances that forces the manager to select them both.