Blog Archives

Olivier Giroud: Reviewing the 20 Goals Scored by the Striker this Season

 

 

 

Leading the line!!

“I enjoy my stats because when you are a striker you think that we are looking for the stats and assists as well. I am OK with my stats but I know the team will need me again for the last [four] Premier League games. So I need to score again and again.” – Olivier Giroud

Down the years, Arsenal has always had its fair share of attacking talent that have wowed the fans, thus epitomizing the club’s attractive style of football. While the likes of Ted Drake and Cliff Bastin scored for fun in the days of old, modern day Arsenal fans were honored to watch Ian Wright decimate opposition defenses before the baton was passed to Dennis Bergkamp and Thierry Henry, two of the finest foreign acquisitions the club has ever made.

With the Henry era reaching its climax, Arsenal unleashed goalscoring machines like Emmanuel Adebayor and Robin van Persie to the fold and just when we thought that the club it had its predatory clinical finisher in the form of Eduardo da Silva, injury robbed him off his confidence and his career plunged downwards before Shakhtar Donetsk came around and offered him a way out.

With van Persie opting to join Manchester United, Arsene Wenger keep the faith with his new recruit from SC Montpellier Herault and in 91 appearances thus far, the French forward has smashed in 37 goals, with 20 of them coming this season. Despite his frailties and criticisms, scoring 20 goals in your second season at a top-level club like Arsenal is a good return from a center forward. With four games left, I don’t expect Giroud to reach the 30-goal mark but scoring 25 goals could be a realistic target for the French striker.

In a somewhat chronological order, Gooner Daily wants to relive those splendid moments from Giroud that proved that he’s still the club’s alpha-dog in attack.

AUGUST 2013

Goal No. One against Aston Villa at the Emirates

The home side went off to a flyer when a Rosicky through ball located an unmarked Ox that bore down on goal before picking his spot and locating the red-hot Olivier Giroud. As you would expect from a striker on form, the Frenchman’s one-timed shot eased past Brad Guzan to send the Emirates into raptures.

Goal No. Two against Fenerbahce in the Sukru Saracoglu Stadium

Arsenal drove a nail in Fenerbahce’s coffin when Kadlec fouled Walcott in the box. Giroud stepped up and sent the keeper the wrong way with a well-taken spot kick. That turned out to be his last contribution as he was withdrawn for Lukas Podolski

Goal No. Three against Fulham at Craven Cottage

the breakthrough arrived when Olivier Giroud showed great improvisation as well as a cool head after blocking Aaron Ramsey’s shot to slot the ball past Stockdale in goal.

SEPTEMBER 2013

London boy: Olivier Giroud scores and celebrates the opening goal of the game at the Emirates

Goal No. Four against Tottenham at the Emirates

After some good work in midfield from Aaron Ramsey, the Welshman found Rosicky on the right and the Czech maestro wasted to time in sending Walcott through in behind the Tottenham rearguard. Walcott looked up and fashioned a chance for an onrushing Olivier Giroud whose finish was sheer class. An exquisite deft touch that was more than enough as it skipped past Lloris in goal.

Goal No. Five against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light

Arsenal’s opening goal arrived in swift fashion as Kieran Gibbs dinked a ball into Ozil’s path. The German schemer saw an onrushing Olivier Giroud with those orbicular eyes of his and he cushioned a first time pass that was finished aplomb with a neat one-timed shot from Giroud.

OCTOBER 2013

Goal No. Six against Napoli at the Emirates

Arsenal doubled their money when Giroud latched unto a loose pass, teed up Ozil and continued his run into the box. The German schemer used his first touch to give himself some space, went to Napoli’s byline and squared the ball for Giroud. They rest they say, was history.

Goal No. Seven against Borussia Dortmund at the Emirates

Following a good Bacary Sagna cross (after a plethora of erratic crosses), Giroud showed his predatory instincts to capitalize on a defensive gaffe between Neven Subotic and Roman Weidenfeller to blast in a free clear-cut chance at goal that leveled the contest before halftime.

Goal No. Eight against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park

13/14: Crystal Palace 0-2 Arsenal - Olivier Giroud

Right on the death, Giroud instigated a counter attack with a neat flick to Ramsey that went on a run and waited for the right moment for the Frenchman to arrive at the box. With Giroud in sight, Ramsey gently cushioned the ball above a defender to the path of Giroud that nodded his effort in to put the game beyond doubt.

NOVEMBER 2013

Goals No. Nine and 10 against Southampton at the Emirates

The match opener arrived in a rather hilarious fashion as Clyne supplied a simple back pass to his goalkeeper and with Giroud closing down on Boruc he decided to invoke the spirits of Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi to attempt a futile effort of dribbling Giroud. The Frenchman robbed the Pole and slammed the ball into an unguarded net.

Jose Fonte wanted to exchange jerseys with Mertesacker in the box leaving the referee no choice but to point to the spot. Giroud took responsibility and sent the keeper the wrong way to make it two.

DECEMBER 2013

Goal No. 11 against Newcastle at St. James Park

29 12 2013 GifNumber 36 1 0 to the Arsenal: Olivier Giroud v Newcastle [GIF]

The match clincher arrived when Giroud latched onto Walcott’s perfectly-timed cross to head the ball home.

JANUARY 2014

Goal No. 12 against Aston Villa at Villa Park

While the Gunners were basking in the euphoria of getting the game’s opener, Wilshere robbed Delph off the ball and clipped a diagonal pass to Giroud. The Frenchman shoved the threat Lowton posed and fired a shot past Guzan to make it two goals in less than a minute for the Gunners.

Quick-fire: The Frenchman powered his strike home less than 60 seconds after Wilshere's opener

Goal No. 13 against Coventry City at the Emirates

Giroud latched on to Kieran Gibbs cut back to make it three while Cazorla fired in the icing on a well-baked cake late on.

Goal No. 14 against Southampton at the St. Mary’s Stadium

Lacked supply from his teammates in the first half but he helped his team defensively. He also scored a very improvised finish in a difficult situation.

FEBRUARY 2014

Goals No. 15 and 16 against Sunderland at the Emirates

Giroud lingered in the box when he attempted to pass back to his keeper and the Gunners striker clinically slid the ball past the exasperated Vito Mannone in goal.

Olivier Giroud celebrates his first goal of the afternoon for Arsenal against Sunderland

Santiago Vergini, deputising for the suspended Wes Brown, chose to send a tame back pass to Mannone.His return ball to Mannone, however, was woefully under hit, allowing the predatory Giroud to pounce and roll the ball beyond the goalkeeper.

MARCH 2014

Goals No. 17 and 18 against Everton at the Emirates

Giroud came off the bench to score a lovely brace that saw him fire one-timed shots into the net. His first arrived when he timed his run well to hit Sagna’s drilled cross and his second was served on a platter after Ozil’s pass put him clean on goal.

Goal No. 19 against Swansea at the Emirates

Giroud showed good movement to reach Lukas Podolski’s inch-perfect pass before firing a shot past Michel Vorm in goal.

APRIL 2014

Goal No. 20 against West Ham at the Emirates

The French striker hit the 20-goal mark when he controlled Vermaelen’s pass impeccably before blasting the shot through the goalie’s legs.

I hope you enjoyed the review.

Sayonara.

You can follow Gooner Daily on Twitter  @goonerdaily. I’ll follow back

Feel free to visit Gooner Daily’s  Facebook page and click on the like button.

You can also join Gooner Daily’s Mailing List to get notifications of new posts by email by clicking on the Follow button

Thoughts on Giroud’s Recent Decline in Goalscoring Form

article-2528583-1A464BF000000578-549_634x390

Arsenal is a team that is widely renowned for its exciting brand of entertaining football and the current squad is blessed with a plethora of football technicians that have given their all for the team’s cause as the season progresses.

Arsenal, like every other team in the Premier League, has had some great predatory forwards that smashed in goals with consummate ease. I wasn’t born when Cliff Bastin wowed the Highbury crowd but I was fortunate to see Ian Wright break Bastin’s long goalscoring record of 178 goals by sealing a hat-trick against Bolton in September 1997.

Just when we thought that Wright was Arsenal’s greatest center forward ever, a certain Thierry Henry popped up and broke Wright’s record of 185 goals against Sparta Prague in October 2005 and went on top the club’s goalscoring charts with 228 goals. At the frantic pace Robin van Persie scored goals for fun for the club, he was touted to at least match Ian Wright’s record but he couldn’t add to his 132 goals for the club as he departed for greener pastures.

Replacing a striker of van Persie’s quality was no mean feat but Arsenal swooped for Ligue 1’s top goalscorer in the 2011/12 season, Olivier Giroud, and the club also signed Lukas Podolski from FC Cologne to share the goalscoring workload. As you’d expect from players coming in from a different footballing culture, Giroud and Podolski had their struggles in one of the toughest football leagues in the world and a return of 33 goals between them was appreciated by the manager, their teammates and fans alike.

At the start of the new campaign, the manager acknowledged that a new striker was needed and the club were heavily linked with moves for Gonzalo Higuain and Luis Suarez, two players that were sure to displace Giroud off his perch. With the striker needed to prove his worth to the team, he smashed in five goals in his first six games, which was an amazing return for the Frenchman.

He went on to score goals against Napoli (home), Dortmund (away) and Crystal Palace taking his tally to eight goals this season but now without a goal in each of his last six games. It’s also what noting that Giroud has scored in one of his last 11 Arsenal appearances. That was the game against Southampton where Artur Boruc gifted him the first goal and he smashed in a penalty afterwards.

10 goals from 24 appearances is a good return from a striker but when you live in a world where the Sergio Agueros and Luis Suarez’s are decimating opposition defenses in the same league, you have to at least expect more from your alpha-dog in attack.

In Arsenal’s 6-3 mauling at the Etihad, Giroud had two quickfire chances he failed to capitalize on. The first was a brilliantly flicked ball from Jack Wilshere that was skied by the Frenchman while the second was a header that was glanced wide from a peach of a cross from Bacary Sagna.

In Arsenal’s last game against game against Chelsea, the game was locked at 0-0 when Aaron Ramsey noticed an unmarked Giroud on Ivanovic’s blind side. The Welsh phenom dinked the ball to Giroud’s path on his favorite left foot but the forward wasted the golden opportunity.

Olivier Giroud missed chance vs Chelsea

It was truly a terrible miss from the forward and he was going to miss another clear cut opportunity when Gibbs worked hard with Rosicky to square the ball to Giroud but his shot was parried by Cech. For a striker that was anonymous in front of goal all game long, these two quickfire chances presented him with a chance to write his name in Arsenal folklore but as expected, he was found wanting.

According to WhoScored, Giroud has scored seven goals in the Premier League from 57 shots and he averages 3.6 shots per game. Giroud has some strengths that have been on show this season (dominance in the air, lovely linkup play, amazing work rate) but his lack of pace and poor finishing shows that he can’t be fully relied on when the chips are down.

I really hate to compare him with RVP because of their classes apart but when I think about the fact that the Flying Dutchman was Arsenal’s get-out-of-jail-free card, it hurts to see that a talented forward like Giroud needs to get four to five chances before he converts one. There are games, like the one against Chelsea, where you can only be afforded one chance and you need to grab it with both hands.

From another perspective, Arsenal needs a new striker to offer stiff competition to Giroud. When he knew that his place was under threat in the summer to the likes of Higuain and Suarez, Giroud stepped up his game to prove to the manager that he was right to keep the faith with him. Now he can only look at Nicklas Bendtner as his backup striker and of course, he knows that Wenger would always favor him above the Dane.

Giroud’s fitness is also a key issue for his recent dip in form. For those that don’t know, he has played 24 games already spanning across four playing competitions and he’s starting to burn out. He was afforded a breather against Hull as Bendtner played in his stead but that was the only time he could afford to be rested.

The likes of Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Ozil and Jack Wilshere have shared the goalscoring load with Giroud but Arsenal needs Nicklas Bendtner, Theo Walcott and Lukas Podolski to step up their games to provide support to Giroud. It’s a team game after all.

Podolski is a much better finisher than Giroud, but doesn’t offer much more than that, and was pretty much anonymous when played up front on his own last season. Walcott’s brace against Manchester City showed what he’s capable of but he was a peripheral figure against Chelsea. Bendtner hasn’t still gotten a run of games to prove his worth and many believe that his future lies elsewhere.

The Gunners are without a win in four and face a West Ham side that has secured two great results against the Gunners’ rivals, Tottenham, in their home turf, so they certainly won’t be pushovers.

Arsenal needs Giroud and co. to get in on the scoring act and some goals against the East Londoners would be highly welcome.

Sayonara.

You can download the Gooner Daily  BlackBerry App to receive notifications on your Smart Phone when a post is published.

You can follow Gooner Daily on Twitter  @goonerdaily. I’ll follow back

Feel free to visit Gooner Daily’s  Facebook page and click on the like button.

You can also join Gooner Daily’s Mailing List to get notifications of new posts by email by clicking on the Follow button

New Deal for Mertesacker and Thoughts on Giroud’s ‘Fatigue’

Giroud hasn’t scored in 3 games and all hell breaks loose

Following the 8-2 mauling in the hands of Manchester United, Arsene wiped the dust off Arsenal’s cheque book to sign five players that had their impacts on the team in one way or another.

Mikel Arteta was instrumental in the box to box role alongside Alex Song, Andre Santos deputised well in Kieran Gibbs’ injury absence, Yossi Benayoun came into the fold in the tail end of the campaign, Park Chu-Young went into oblivion and lastly, Per Mertesacker brought his calmness and composure to a defense manned by the hot-headed duo of Thomas Vermaelen and Laurent Koscielny.

After some early season struggles as you’d expect from a player coming from another footballing culture, Mertesacker found his feet and started putting some stellar performances but an ankle injury suffered in the aberration of a pitch called the Stadium of Light brought his debut season with Arsenal to an abrupt end and it almost affected his participation for his nation in Euro 2012.

Last season, Mertesacker found a new lease of life and blossomed as he became synonymous with first team action and he excelled admirably alongside Vermaelen or Koscielny as his calmness, coordination and composure was supplemented by their agility, grit, anticipation and determination which became instrumental in Arsenal’s surge for a fourth placed finish last season.

With Mertesacker signing an initial four year deal worth 65,000 pounds per week in 2011, he was going to have a year left on his contract at the start of next season. Lessons from the past (a la Clichy, Van Persie and Nasri) has thought Arsenal what could happen when a player has a year left on his deal so the Gunners are keen to take swift action, as they are bracing themselves to speak with Mertesacker’s representatives over a new bumper contract.

Irrespective of the fact that he’s going to have one year left at the start of next season, Mertesacker has been one of the success stories of the 2013/14 season and he was sorely missed in the recent defeat at Old Trafford. Thomas Vermaelen has reiterated his desire to fight his way back to first team action but I don’t see him displacing the Big Friendly Giant anytime soon but he’d definitely get his chance as the season progresses.

With 94 caps for Germany, Mertesacker is just six games shy of joining the elite set of footballers that would notch up a century of appearances for their nation. Only Philip Lahm, Lukas Podolski, Miroslav Klose and Bastien Schwiensteiger have reached the 100-club in the current crop of Joachim Loew’s squad.

Moving over from defense to attack as Arsenal has done so efficiently this season, Olivier Giroud has come into the spotlight recently, in the wake of his run of games without a goal. His last strike for Arsenal came in the narrow 2-0 win over Crystal Palace but in the Gunners three consecutive fixtures against Liverpool, Dortmund and Manchester United, Giroud has fired blanks, even though he gave the match-winning assist to Aaron Ramsey in the Signal Iduna Park.

His performance at Old Trafford didn’t inspire any confidence as he looked out of sorts and off the pace most times. Nicklas Bendtner was summoned to ameliorate the situation but he didn’t fare any better. Bendtner’s national team manager, Martin Olson, has urged the player to leave Arsenal but he hasn’t threatened to drop him from the squad if his first team opportunities don’t improve.

In the wake of Giroud’s lethargic performance against Manchester United, his best buddy in the team, Laurent Koscielny, has stated that the French forward, hasn’t been on the goals recently and with Giroud featuring consistently week in week out, he clearly feels that he’s ‘fatigued’ and could do with some rest.

Sadly for Giroud, that can’t happen anytime soon. Starting a game with Nicklas Bendtner is like waiting for a time bomb to explode and he’s currently on the edge with the fans as he has also become a lightning rod for vitriol and abuse from the fans.

Giroud also has a crucial 2014 World Cup qualifier to contend with as he has been preferred to Kazim Benzema in the French setup recently. The French national team lock horns in a two-legged affair with Ukraine with a place in the World Cup up for grabs.

It’s fair to say that Giroud has featured in a lot of games this season and could be entering the ill-fated ‘red zone’ but the injuries suffered to Theo Walcott and Lukas Podolski coupled with Arsenal’s failure to recruit a center forward (no disrespect to Yaya Sanogo) has made Giroud’s situation rather precarious.

Arsenal has key fixtures against Southampton after the international break and this will be followed with games against Marseille, Cardiff, Hull, Everton, Napoli, Manchester City, Chelsea, West Ham and Newcastle before the New Year and I don’t expect Giroud to play every game, because the last time I checked, he’s not a cyborg.

In Walcott and Podolski, the Gunners have lethal finishers but the problem remains that they can’t bring their midfielders into the game like Giroud if they start at the center forward position. They also lack the aerial prowess to dominate opposition defenders and they can’t hold up play like Giroud.

Arsene Wenger will have to sort things out in January but till then, the Gunners will have to make with what they have.

Sayonara.

Giroud’s Goal Scoring Form: Can He Win the EPL Golden Boot this Season?

Olivier Giroud Olivier Giroud of Arsenal celebrates his goal during the Barclays Premiership match between Arsenal and Fulham at Emirates Stadium on November 10, 2012 in London, England.

A man on a rich vein of form

Olivier Giroud began his career at Ligue 2 outfit, Grenoble Foot 38 and made a handful of appearances before going further down to FC Istres, a National outfit (Third Division).

His eye catching performances in FC Istres prompted Tours FC to get a signature. A move that saw him smash in 38 goals in 69 appearances in just two seasons.

Montpellier Herault SC came calling with an even bigger challenge but Giroud helped his team to a 14th place finish in his first season at the club scoring 14 goals in 43 appearances. In his final season with the French outfit, Giroud contributed immensely to his team’s cause with 21 goals in Ligue 1 and four other goals in Cup competition. His 21-goal haul in Montpellier played a vital role in their maiden Ligue 1 win and it was expected that Giroud among others would find new suitors that summer, and Arsenal came calling.

In Giroud’s first season in North London, he had a knack for scoring all his goals in the capital city and it was really strange to know all his 11 Premier League goals last season were scored either scored in the Emirates or against London-based sides like Fulham, West Ham and  Tottenham. He also scored in other competition totaling his goal count to 17 in his debut season.

Giroud had a great preseason by his standards, especially when Arsenal was heavily linked with forwards like Gonzalo Higuain and Luis Suarez all summer. After a joint combination of seven goals in the Asian Tour, Emirates Cup and the friendly against Manchester City in Helsinki, Arsenal began their Premier League campaign with an embarrassing defeat to Aston Villa but Giroud scored the match opener after some good work from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

In Arsenal’s two-legged European qualifying affair with Fenerbahce, Giroud registered his name on the score sheet with a well-taken penalty in the away victory at Istanbul. When the Gunners visited Craven Cottage to take on Fulham, Giroud’s Premier League London scoring habit continued as he showed some improvisation to stop Aaron Ramsey’s shot before slotting it past Stockdale in goal. The much anticipated North London Derby against high-spending Tottenham arrived just before transfer deadline day and all it took was a Giroud finish to make it One-Nil to the Arsenal.

Following the acquisition of record signing, Mesut Ozil, Giroud was a beneficiary of his inch-perfect assists as he latched on to the German’s pass before slotting the ball past a hapless Westwood – his first Premier League goal outside the capital.0

In the wake of Arsenal’s Champions League curtain raiser against Olympique Marseille, the Handsome French Bloke has set his sights on winning the EPL Golden Boot after his blistering start to the campaign,

“I must have a chance [to win the EPL Golden Boot]. I feel good and, with these players giving me chances, it has to be a possibility.

“That is something I aimed to achieve when I joined Arsenal. Now that we have Mesut Ozil, it can get even better”.

When you have a teammate that created a goalscoring chance for Giroud and plethora of chances for Theo Walcott, you can only be confident that more chances will come in the future. Many Arsenal fans have been quick to voice their frustrations and lash out on Walcott’s bad day at the office, but this brilliant article by Arsenal Arsenal, backs Walcott and has urged the fans to give him a chance.

…It wasn’t Theo’s best day in front of goal. In fact he was about as clinical as a bowl of bacteria. But he has shown us repeatedly that he can finish well in one-on-ones and there is no reason to think he has lost that ability overnight. – Arsenal Arsenal

 

Giroud may have scored four Premier League goals in his first four games but he has to be mindful that he’s in the best league in the world with a vast array of top quality strikers scattered across the 20 teams. Like Arsenal, the traditional top four teams boast of a lot of attacking talent and other teams in the league have their star forwards that score goals on a consistent basis.

The first name on everyone’s lips to win the EPL Golden Boot again is Robin van Persie, that has won the prestigious award for the past two seasons with 30 goals and 26 goals respectively. This season he already has three goals and he will be odds on to score more as the season progresses. Manchester United also have Shrek, that hasn’t been on the goals lately but he opened his Premier League account against Crystal Palace.

At Chelsea, new signing, Samuel Eto’o, hasn’t got off the mark yet but his pedigree speaks in volumes as he has won the Pichichi in Spain and was only beaten for the Golden Boot in 2011 despite scoring 21 goals, as Antonio Di Natale scored 28. Fernando Torres no longer inspires fear in opposition defenders but in his debut campaign in the league, he was the second highest goalscorer after Cristiano Ronaldo.

Liverpool has an emerging Daniel Sturridge that has already netted four goals so far in the league and last season’s goalscoring predator, Luis Suarez, will soon be back with a bite bang. At Manchester City, Sergio Aguero, Edin Dzeko and Alvaro Negredo are massive goalscoring threats, and the likes of Christian Benteke, Roberto Soldado, Romelu Lukaku and Miguel Michu will punish you if you blink.

I really like Giroud and I pray he scores a lot of goals but if he wants to win the EPL Golden Boot at the end of the season, all he needs is consistency. At Arsenal, there are a lot of players that can create more chances than the guns owned by rebels across Africa but these chances need to be finished by the likes of Giroud and Walcott to put games beyond doubt.

The season is still young, but I wish Giroud all the best in his bid to become the alpha-dog in the Premier League.

Sayonara.

To vote for Gooner Daily for the 2013 OYAA award of Best Online Media for Sport, please click here.

You can download the Gooner Daily  BlackBerry App to receive notifications on your Smart Phone when a post is published.

You can follow Gooner Daily on Twitter  @goonerdaily. I’ll follow back

Feel free to visit Gooner Daily’s  Facebook page and click on the like button.

You can also join Gooner Daily’s Mailing List to get notifications of new posts by email by clicking on the Follow button

Rating Arsenal’s Attackers’ Performances in the 2012/13 Season

Both players hit double figures and had great campaigns

Last season, Arsenal notched up to a century of goals with 72 goals scored in the Premier League, 13 in the Champions League, 14 in the Capital One Cup and six goals in the FA Cup.

Despite this somewhat impressive goal count, it’s disheartening to know that they were hard to come by when the Gunners played against their rivals at the top as well as some key fixtures in the course of the season, with the games against Bayern (first leg) Blackburn and Bradford coming to mind.

If the Gunners had managed to dispatch the League Two outfit, they would’ve geared themselves up for a two-legged semifinal berth against Aston Villa, and if they were successful against the Midlands outfit, a potential final against Chelsea or Swansea would have beckoned. Had the Gunners went one step forward in this season’s Capital One Cup final, the trophy bells would have been ringing.

The FA Cup offered a different proposition as the Gunners crashed out following an appalling performance against Blackburn. Had Arsene Wenger’s side won the team they successfully slammed seven goals at home last season, a sixth round clash against Millwall would have been on the cards before a semifinal clash against eventual winners, Wigan. If Arsenal beat all the aforementioned teams on the road to Wembley, a potential final clash against Chelsea or Manchester City would have followed.

So much for wishful thinking.

This is the final installment of a four-post series focused on Arsenal’s performances in the 2012/13 season. I’ve already published my ratings on the performances of the goalkeepersdefenders and midfielders but today’s post is focused on Arsenal’s goal getters.

Feel free to share your comments.

Andrey Arshavin: 11 Apps, One Goal, Five Assists

…The first goal on the night was from a Cesc Fabregas pass after some good work by Samir Nasri, he worked the second himself after some poor Liverpool defending, his hat-trick was gifted to him on a platter thanks to more atrocious defending from Liverpool and his fourth came from a brilliant counter attack that was started by Walcott.

That night, the Russian magician was simply four-midable and the Gunners were disappointed to know that he couldn’t be part of their impressive Champions League campaign because he was cup-tied from his involvement with his previous and only club, Zenit St. Petersburg.

After scoring six goals and supplying nine assists in just 15 games for Arsenal, Arshavin came second in Arsenal’s 2009 Player of the Season Poll despite coming in the second half of the campaign. Arsene Wenger, his teammates and most importantly, the fans waited anxiously to see what he could accomplish in a full season with the club… enigma106

Four years on and this is only a distant memory.

After an extremely disappointing campaign, Arshavin’s time with Arsenal is up as the club chose not to renew his contract. He was reduced to spending a lot of time in the dugout and when he came on, he looked rather uninterested.

He was pretty impressive in the Capital One Cup last season and his only significant Premier League moments include his late cross into the box that led to the goal against Queens Park Rangers and the penalty he won for his team against Fulham.

In what became his final appearance for the club, Arsene Wenger summoned him with 15 minutes left to play when the Gunners visited Stamford Bridge. With the Gunners trailing, they needed inspiration from anywhere but when the ball came to Arshavin’s path, he was found wanting.

Some say that he was played out of position, others said that his attitude was lackadaisical. I say that he’s a technically proficient player that began his career in the club like a house on fire but plummeted into mediocrity due to his lethargy and lack of work ethic.

Rating: 1/10

Gervinho: 26 Apps, Seven Goals, Five Assists

Gervinho will always be remembered for his penalty miss against Zambia in the 2012 African Cup of Nations. He returned to North London like a player haunted with his own demons and he couldn’t exorcise them for the remainder of the campaign.

After a decent preseason that was epitomized with a wonder goal against FC Cologne, Arsenal’s toothless nature in front of goal afforded the Ivorian a chance to start as a center forward.

He repaid his manager’s faith almost immediately with a well-taken brace against Southampton. The goals kept ramping up for Gervinho with Montpellier, Chelsea and Olympiakos on the receiving end of some Ivorian magic.

Shortly afterwards, a horrible run of form followed with Gervinho putting up appalling performances on a weekly basis. Then this happened…

Miss of the season

After that shocking miss against Bradford, Gervinho spent a lot of time on the bench and was given another chance to redeem himself when Wenger played him in the FA Cup tie against Blackburn with half an eye on the Bayern Munich fixture. Gervinho missed another glaring chance in that game as well, which Arsenal rued.

When we all thought his season was done, Gervinho came off the bench to score the match winner against Swansea before a Man of the Match performance against Reading where he scored a goal and created two assists. He continued his good form creating a goal for Tomas Rosicky against West Brom then he went on free fall again with another putrid performance against Norwich.

When Gervinho stated that he wants to remain at Arsenal and fight for his place, I can bet that a faction of the Arsenal faithful gnashed their teeth in anguish – including me. -_________-

Rating: 5/10

Marouane Chamakh: Three Apps, Two Goals, One Assist

There was a certain Moroccan sensation that played his entire career in Girondins de Bordeaux before switching to the Red half of North London. He started with a few goals during the preseason before forcing Pepe Reina to score an own goal on the opening day of last season in Anfield.

He scored his first goal on his home debut against recently relegated Blackpool before joining the party when Arsenal thrashed Bolton by 4-1 in September. He also scored on his Champions League debut in the 6-0 spanking of eventual Europa League finalists SC Braga and continued his personal scoring record in the competition that extended from his Bordeaux days.

He scored in his Arsenal’s second Champions League tie against Partizan before scoring the match winner against Birmingham City in mid-October. He scored again in Arsenal’s third Champions League game against Shakhtar and it seemed as if he was destined to score in every game of the Champions League as long as he played.

The goals dried up a bit but he found some form again in November scoring a brace against Wolves before scoring Tottenham and Aston Villa. Marouane Chamakh’s toe poke in Villa Park was his 10th goal in just 21 appearances averaging a goal every two games then Robin van Persie came along and Chamakh found himself relegated to the bench and featured in lowly Cup ties.

After going through 19 games two seasons ago and scoring only one goal, Chamakh was understandably frozen out last season because he had become a liability to the team rather than an asset.

Chamakh’s first appearance last season was rather perplexing, as he managed to score two goals from outside the box – a feat I don’t think he had ever achieved for the club. He featured for the Gunners in the dead-rubber fixture against Olympiakos in Athens and he was a rather peripheral figure, no different from his performance against Bradford.

Arsenal took a rather bold step to part ways with Denilson, I really hope they follow suit with Chamakh.

Rating: 1/10

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain: 33 Apps, Two Goals, Three Assists

It’s fair to say that the Ox suffered the well-renowned “second season syndrome” as he clearly failed to live up to the hype surrounding him in his first campaign in the Premier League.

The idea of Oxlade-Chamberlain expressing himself on a football pitch is something that has petrified many opposition defences since his arrival to the Premier League two seasons ago. The 19-year-old’s pace and ability to find a pass has already transformed him into an Arsenal regular and, should he continue his fine progression up the Gunners ranks, Oxlade-Chamberlain could be a starter in the England XI come next summer.

Last season, the Ox failed to assert himself and his chances diminished with Theo Walcott’s growing importance to the team. There was even a point when he was further down the pecking order behind Gervinho.

Despite his shortcomings, the Ox showed some glimpses of his undoubtedly quality and his wonder strike against Coventry City was a friendly reminder of what he was made of. He also scored a goal in that 7-3 thumping of Newcastle and his most important contribution last season was his neat cutback to Giroud the 3-1 win over Norwich.

Just went a draw seemed on the cards, the Ox popped up with an improvised flash of brilliance and whether it was a Giroud goal or Seb Bassong own goal, the ball entered the net thanks to the Ox.

The Ox is an unearthed talent and he’s one for the future.

Rating: 6/10

Lukas Podolski: 42 Apps, 16 Goals, 11 Assists

Lukas Podolski is a renowned center forward but his versatility ensures that he can be deployed in other attacking positions, as he can play in the hole behind the striker as well as the left wing position, where he has played for throughout his time at Arsenal with the exception of his debut against Sunderland, where he put up a disappointing show.

From then onwards, the manager deployed him on the left hand side and he bonded with that position, putting up stellar performances  as well as forging a telepathic understanding with Kieran Gibbs. However, there’s something that’s more certain than death, taxes and England losing on penalties – Lukas Podolski being substituted.

In all my years as a football fan, I’ve never seen a player more substituted than Podolski. Ever.

Arsenal’s Freddie Ljungberg had the unwanted record of being the most substituted player (21 times) in a season but Podolski made it look like child’s play. Whether he was downright unfit or carrying an injury as most cynics, it didn’t change the fact that it was a good debut season for the German.

The German machine scored all kinds of goals this season. Several placed efforts, headers, a lob against Wigan, a free kick against Southampton, a piledriver against West Ham and of course, this…

Rating: 8/10

Olivier Giroud: 47 Apps, 17 Goals, 12 Assists

I can vividly remember when a published an article on 10 things you need to know about Giroud, after he had completed his move from Montpellier in June 2012. 12 months on, let’s see if he ticked all the boxes in that article.

  • He’s a massive threat in the air – He proved this all season long supporting the team from set pieces defensively as well as scoring some goals with his head (Liverpool and Fulham)
  • He’s a classic target man – Holding up play, flick-ons, bringing others to the game, through balls and aerial duels were part and parcel of Giroud’s game last season.
  • He’s not injury prone - Out of 38 available Premier League games, Giroud missed three through a red card. He was an ever-present figure this season and his 47 appearances throughout the campaign is a testament of that.
  • He has his fair share of silverware – *coughs profusely* He won that in Montpellier :D
  • He’s close friends with Koscielny – You don’t need any soothsayer to tell you that
  • He’s highly rated by Wenger – The boss spoke about him in volumes and hopes for more next season.
  • He’s on Twitter – You can follow him @_OlivierGiroud_
  • He fits into Arsenal’s style of play – Check!
  • He offers Arsenal options in attack – Every fan saw how the attack crumbled following Giroud’s red card against Fulham.
  • He worked his way to the top – Grenoble – Istres – Tours – Montpellier – Arsenal…do the math.

Despite checking all these boxes and adding 17 goals to his name, Giroud struggled for form this season in patches and his record against the top four sides was quite disappointing. I don’t even want to start with the glaring misses.

He could do with some competition though.

Rating: 8/10

Theo Walcott: 43 Apps, 21 Goals, 17 Assists

I would describe Theo Walcott as fine wine – getting better with each passing season.

Arsenal’s top goalscorer, Theo Walcott, will look back to this season with a keen sense of pride. With Robin van Persie departing for greener pastures, Arsenal needed some players to step their games up and in all fairness, Walcott fell into that category.

The entertaining, enthralling and epic encounter between Reading and Arsenal in the Capital One cup would go down as one of the most pulsating matches in English football history but Walcott placed his mark on that fixture, scoring a stunning hat-trick. There was the brace against Coventry and a consistent run of goals in the course of the season, but when Walcott was deployed as a center forward against Newcastle in December, he rewarded his manager with another scintillating hat-trick.

Some may label the forward as a one-trick pony but Walcott’s efficiency in front of goal has been very clinical and the nature of his goals last season is a testament of these claims.

He opened his goalscoring account in the rout against Southampton before scoring a Thierry Henry-esque goal as well as another in the Coventry romp. He scored a decisive goal in the away victory over West Ham and followed it up with a scintillating hat-trick against Reading. The goals kept piling up as he opened the scoring against Schalke, got in on the act in the North London Derby and opened the scoring against Everton. There was still time for another goal against Reading before another hat-trick against Newcastle.

His hot streak continued against Chelsea, West Ham, Brighton and Liverpool then his goalscoring well dried up as he failed to record a single goal in February and March. At the tail end of April, he scored Manchester United before hitting the 20-goal mark against Queens Park Rangers. His final goal against Wigan contributed to their relegation.

However, Walcott struggled a bit when he was deployed as a center forward at Giroud’s expense last winter. His height was clearly an issue as he offered no threat from the air and wasn’t able to bring his teammate’s into the game with nice flicks and linkup moves.

The issue of his contract was also a very big thorn in Arsenal’s flesh but I’m glad he signed da ting.

This has been a great campaign for Walcott and I certainly hopes his builds on it because he’s one of the central figures at the club right about now.

Rating: 9/10

This is where the curtain closes on these series. I hope you enjoyed reading the articles as much as I enjoyed writing it.

The voting sequence for the 2012/13 End of Season awards is still ongoing, so feel free to make your votes count in the polls.

Happy Birthday Wilson Dike!!!

Sayonara.

You can download the Gooner Daily  BlackBerry App to receive notifications on your Smart Phone when a post is published.

You can follow Gooner Daily on Twitter  @goonerdaily. I’ll follow back

Feel free to visit Gooner Daily’s  Facebook page and click on the like button.

You can also join Gooner Daily’s Mailing List to get notifications of new posts by email by clicking on the Follow button

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 8,586 other followers