Saturday, 25 July 2015

The Olivier Giroud Argument

One of the main arguments and questions I had of Olivier Giroud was his performances and goal record in the big games – before last season, he had scored at home to Liverpool and at home against Spurs and that was it.

A striker playing for Arsenal needs goals against the big teams and I was particularly keen to see how his performances would be the season just gone.

He ended the season with goals against Man United at home, Liverpool home & away and a very important goal away to Man City – he even threw in one against Monaco in Monaco which sadly didn’t result in the great escape but certainly gave us hope.

Thierry Henry caused a bit of a stir recently by saying Arsenal will not win the league with Olivier Giroud – he later went on to say when he, himself was playing, Arsenal had Wiltord, Kanu, Suker to come on and make the difference. The two comments slightly contradict each other but I believe Thierry Henry meant, with Olivier Giroud ALONE, Arsenal will not win the league and I think it’s tough to argue otherwise.

Theo Walcott showed he has goals in him in the final game of the league season and the cup final and Danny Welbeck will want to prove he too can be a central striker but both are relatively unproven playing up top for long periods of the season in a title chasing team.

I’m fully in the boat to give both a chance to be the Wiltord, Kanu and Suker and play a vital part this season rather than buy an average striker who won’t do a great deal better then what we already have. If that world class striker becomes available then I fully expect Arsenal to go for him, like they tried to do with Suarez and have been trying with Benzema for the last three years.

Buying a world class striker does not mean Olivier Giroud is surplus to requirements – it means he now has team mates who can help him and help the club go for the big competitions in England & Europe.

Olivier Giroud has a massive part to play in our future as he offers something quite different and is well suited to so many games in our league, however, he can’t do it alone.

I’ve been quite surprised with the stick he has got for staying loyal (so to speak) and sign an extension (many will argue that he won’t get this sort of arrangement elsewhere and they may well be right) – I think clubs need a collection of players and certainly need a few in every position in order to be successful.

I truly believe some of the frustration from supporters on Giroud comes from not having that world star who can turn a game in one moment, such as an Suarez or an Ageuro rather then it being anything personal on Giroud.

In my opinion, Olivier Giroud had a good season last year and regardless of if anyone comes in, I back him to have another good season and hopefully get to that 20 goal mark for our fantastic football club.

Up the Arsenal.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

How Did Anyone Not Enjoy The Month Of March?

A win on Saturday will result in Arsenal only being four points behind Chelsea for a few hours at least – considering the way Arsenal started and Chelsea started (new invincibles, walking the title, quadruple etc) that sounds quite amazing.

I’m not saying for one minute that the title is within reach but it’s an incredible where we are considering how we started – now to work out how to start well and end well!

Watching Arsenal in March was a joy – I hear people say that watching Arsenal is not fun anymore and I can see where they are coming from but the person I heard someone on a podcast moan about watching Arsenal’ recently had clearly not seen our performances in March.

 Arsenal started the month with a 2-0 victory over Everton at home which was essential after the Monaco showing the game previous. We then went to QPR and had a poor first half but got much better in the second to grab another vital three points. We then went to Old Trafford in the cup and broke our winless run which feels like it has been going on for years and years and we played extremely well. We went there with this new attitude of not always having to have the ball but use it better when we have it and win the game – it worked a treat. We then kept another clean sheet at home by defeating West Ham 3-0 and despite two of the goals coming quite late, we always looked in control and no real danger of losing the game. We then went to Monaco in our annual ‘mission impossible’ and came close to winning the tie but another sense of déjà vu occurred but it was another win regardless to maintain our run which was the minimum we could do. We ended the month going to Newcastle and once again kept the run going – we had a tough second half but came through it which in a funny way, was impressive to watch too.

I appreciate there are many opinions in football and opinions are what make the game so great but how a supporter of a club that have had the month we have had not enjoy it is beyond me!

The Monaco defeat at home was painful – it really was a major slip up. Arsenal had a fantastic opportunity to progress and perhaps be a surprise package in the competition. We lacked concentration and dare I say it a bit of motivation because we thought it would be an easy tie – this should be a good warning for the FA Cup semi final (along with going to the wire in last season’s semi final).

An FA Cup and second place finish would be progression but a title challenge is a MUST for next season but for now, let’s enjoy the final straight and hopefully ending with another great weekend at the end of May.

Monday, 10 November 2014

Knee-Jerk or are you really worried?

The final whistle went and the red half of Wembley all celebrated the first silverware in years, the atmosphere was brilliant and everyone was getting on!

I still remember leaving Wembley and heading back to the Arsenal area for one of the best football related pub nights in years – it was a real party then went on well into the early hours.

It was supposed to be a spring board for success – it signalled the end of the Emirates project (near enough) and the start of a new era. It started well, we all knew Fabianski and Sagna were leaving and were replaced and we recruited a world class star in Alexis Sanchez. The future looked bright…..

…Then the season began and safe to say; it hasn’t quite set off yet – we haven’t played very well and been rescued by Alexis Sanchez.

The signing of Alexis has been stunning and many thought we had turned the corner – Ozil last summer, Sanchez this and ‘if we can add that holding midfielder we require and some cover in defence, we can challenge again’ – a few months on and we are still saying the same thing.

The frustration comes because we feel we are quite close – if you look at Man Utd, Liverpool, Everton and Spurs all struggling, this was perhaps our chance to progress and maybe challenge Chelsea for the Premier League but it feels like we have missed our chance.

Last season, despite us falling away in the league post February, the first half of the season was truly beautiful at times in the League. Despite losing against City and Utd away from home, we went to places like Swansea, Cardiff, West Ham, Palace and Newcastle and got the three points and we were flying at times. This season, every game has been a struggle bar Villa away (for three minutes anyway!).

It would be too simplistic to say a holding midfielder or an additional centre back would have solved all our problems because they may not have but our squad would have been more complete and injuries at the back may have affected us far less. Even not allowing Carl Jenkinson to go out on loan would have helped the situation – I know I would rather have Jenkinson on the right and Chambers in the middle rather then Chambers on the right and Monreal in the middle.

It’s also all too simplistic to say all our tactics are wrong because we saw Flamini stay tight to Sigurdsson and we kept him out the game quite well – a direct free kick is impossible, even for the best holding midfielders in the world! But overall, we seem to make the same mistakes over and over and when leading a game, our approach remains the same and this week has shown us that.

I absolutely love Arsene Wenger and really believe that in years to come, keeping Arsenal in Europe and at the top of the League (top four) while moving stadiums will be considered one of the best footballing achievements ever.

The problem is, I don’t see where the current team is going – injuries, loss of form, confidence & inability to defend (leads or at all sometimes!) are all problems that have not been rectified.

Arsene will never buy a player for the sake of it or a player who he believes is not good enough to play for Arsenal and has often tried to ‘get by’ and hope we do not get injuries in key positions – that may be the problem. Even by getting an average centre back in this summer would have meant they would be playing ahead of Nacho Monreal (who is doing the best he can playing out of position). You cannot predict injuries and therefore even getting someone in or keeping Vermaelen (been injured most the season so far) may have meant we would still be in the position but that would be plain bad luck rather then plain bad planning.

Let’s be honest, not many can see a change of manager to occur mid season so there ‘MUST’ be some short term measures taken to improve our form. We can pray for our best centre back to return but there seems to be more needed. Confidence needs to increase – a win against a Manchester Utd team who are not playing at the level they would want to be at too will help and just get the season back on track. Despite how even the most positive supporters are dreading the next game, if with a bit of a luck and quality, we could win a big game, we may finally put together a consistent run which is essential if we want to remain and get in to the top four/three/two.

I love Arsene philosophy in terms of attacking football and despite our football not being there at the moment, we saw a glimpse when Sanchez rolled the ball to Welbeck who played a one two with Chamberlain in the box and forced a save from Fabianski at the end of the first half – that is what we want to see more.

Surely the time has come to let Steve Bould really work with the defence and manage them a little – he deserves more responsibility and he may be able to work with the patched up defence and perhaps improve their performance by 10% which at the top of the game, can be the difference between winning and losing.

It seems like we need to get through to January and try and remain near the top of the table then add to our squad and get injured players back and push in the second half of the season and see where we end up – even a quarter final in the Champions League would be nice for all supporters and especially those who like a good old European trip.

Then in the summer, serious questions need to asked and as much as I love Arsene Wenger (and believe me, I really do) – he needs to decide what his own future holds, if to delegate more & allowing others to influence the team or go out and buy the world class players we need (potentially could happen in January but less likely) and we may finally see our great club playing and competing with the lights of Chelsea for the league. 
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