The Arsenal curse, it appears, has struck once again. Olivier Giroud’s ankle injury, which is likely to sideline him for 3 or 4 months, has come just when it seemed he was finally hitting form, and leaves Arsenal shorn of their most potent threat up front.
Considering that the Frenchman is the only recognizable, tried and trusted, out and out striker at the club, the sense of panic in the media concerning Arsenal’s perceived lack of goal-scoring options is understandable, even if it is misplaced. For even though the gunners are now likely to be forced to reconnoitre what was already going to be a difficult campaign without an obvious target man, there still exists within the team, a plethora of attacking options for Arsène Wenger to exploit in attempting to mount a title tilt this season.
Since the news of the likely long term nature of Giroud’s injury broke, the internet and print media have been rife with speculation regarding possible striking targets. All sorts of names have been bandied; ranging from the patently unrealistic (Cavani and Falcao), to the plain ridiculous (Nicola Zigic). It appears every hack is interested in proffering his opinion on which striker will represent the best value for money and present a suitable replacement for the crocked Arsenal striker.
Thankfully, however, Wenger is unlikely to play ball and resort to the kind of panic buy that may appear attractive in the short-term, but will be eventually shown up as rushed and ill-advised in the long term. In view of the fact that the Arsenal team is currently stocked with a long list of candidates who could quite conceivably occupy the striking berth, the last thing Arsenal needs at the moment is a misguided trolley dash to secure a striker whose signing may upset the balance of the squad in the longer term.
Playing Alexis Sanchez in a central role against Everton, may not have provided instant, unmitigated success, but there was a lot in his performance to suggest that he possesses the tools to eventually thrive upfront. The quality and timing of his runs, his tireless running and excellent work ethic as well as his excellent technique and ability to keep and use the ball well all indicate that the experiment is one worth persevering with. His goal and all round energy against Besiktas yesterday, certainly suggested that he is more than capable of growing into the role.
With Walcott (who should return to the team after the international break), Joel Campbell, Yaya Sanogo and yes, even Lukas Podolski all capable of filling in, in the interim, a little bit of patience may be well advised. This is even more so considering the current dearth of quality strikers who are available at the moment. Yes, getting a Loic Remy or Danny Welbeck in may seem like good business at the current time, but what happens when Giroud eventually comes back to form? Do you then, ditch whoever you have brought in and risk having a highly paid, unmotivated and resentful player on your bench? Most importantly, as Wenger has skilfully shown in the past, the ability to give deserving players a chance, whenever the opportunity arises, is one feature that imbues Arsenal with a distinctive “soul”. Wenger has done this successfully in the past with players like Aaron Ramsey, Theo Walcott and Cesc Fabregas with resounding success. It’s certainly true that one of the primary reasons why Arsenal is such a big draw for talented young players is that, with Wenger, they will eventually get their chance. Giroud’s injury whilst undeniably a huge blow, presents some of Arsenal’s aspiring strikers with such an opportunity. Let’s just hope one of them takes it.