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Rating Arsenal’s Strikers’ Performances in the 2014/15 Season

Arsenal scored 105 goals in the 2014/15 campaign which was a truly magnificent feat.

Gooner Daily analyses the strikers that contributed to that tally

Lukas Podolski (13 appearances, three goals)

Podolski is quite a lovable character off the pitch but on it, he hasn’t been given a chance to prove his worth this season. Whether its simply a case of the manager not having faith in him or the forward not being good enough, it was rather strange. Nonetheless, he scored his three goals in two Champions League games before departing to Inter on loan.

Rating: 4/10

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (36 appearances, three games)

This was a very productive season for the Ox. Ceasing on the opportunity created with Theo Walcott out injured, the Ox featured consistently on the right wing and earned plaudits for his direct style of play even though his end product was quite questionable.

The English speedster made his mark in the North London derby and scored two goals in the Champions League. One of his most telling contributions this season came in Old Trafford when he made mincemeat out of some Manchester United defenders before providing a neat pass to Nacho Monreal. The rest they say was history.

Rating: 7/10

Yaya Sanogo (20 appearances, one goal)

Wenger has shown some measure of faith on this lad but many fans (me included) do not believe that he has what it takes to be in an ambitious club like Arsenal. Maybe I’m wrong but I need Sanogo to prove me wrong. In 20 apps for the Gunners, he managed to score his first goal for the club against Dortmund. He was farmed out on loan to Crystal Palace and scored a goal in 11 appearances for the Eagles.

Rating: 4/10

Theo Walcott (19 appearances, six goals)

It’s never easy being out of the game for so long, especially when things were going well for you before the unfortunate incident happened. Since his return to full fitness, Walcott was introduced slowly into the squad and got a couple of goals but there was a period he was frozen out of the squad.

The hat-trick he bagged against West Brom would give his manager something to think about ahead of this weekend’s FA Cup final.

Rating: 7/10

Joel Campbell (10 appearances, no goal)

After a long wait for him to return to the squad, Campbell finally made his Arsenal debut but failed to make any real impact in the course of the season. He was used a make-weight in getting Gabriel Paulista to North London. In 20 appearances for the Yellow Submarine, he managed to score a goal.

I don’t see him returning to the squad though. He’s clearly not good enough.

Rating: 3/10

Danny Welbeck (34 appearances, eight goals)

Arsenal’s transfer deadline day signing, Welbeck, hit the ground running with a scintillating hat-trick against Galatasaray and did his bit to contribute to Arsenal’s course this season.

He reached his pinnacle this season when he scored the goal that sent Manchester United out of the FA Cup. Yes, there were the misses but Welbz is a player that can improve greatly in the future and he can look back at his achievements this season with some measure of pride.

Rating: 7/10

Olivier Giroud (35 appearances, 18 goals)

The usually-fit Giroud suffered a freak injury at the start of the season and missed a large part of the first half of the season. In his return to fitness, he hit a hot streak of goalscoring form that also saw him win his first BPL Player of the Month award.

Following some comments by ex-Gunner, Thierry Henry, Giroud’s confidence was hit hard and he went on a goal drought that he has quite concerning. With the FA Cup final on the horizon, Arsene Wenger is faced in a dilemma on whether to use to Frenchman in poor form or a Walcott that just scored a hat-trick.

Rating: 8/10

Alexis Sanchez (51 appearances, 24 goals)

Sanchez has been a revelation since signing for the club. His exemplary performances has also rubbed off on his teammates and he’s a no-brainer to win the Player of the Season award.

Rating: 10/10

Sayonara

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Olivier Giroud: Is He Greatly Under-Appreciated at Arsenal?

In all my years as an Arsenal supporter, I’ve seen many strikers leave their mark while wearing the famous Red and White of the North London outfit. Ian Wright was a lethal goal scorer in his days and with 184 goals to his name, he remains one of the greatest players the club has ever heard. However, there was the King himself, Thierry Henry, that wowed the fans with his va va voom style of play that endeared him to the hearts of fans forever. Even with 228 goals to his name, the King wasn’t just a great goal scorer, he was a scorer of great goals.

Then there was the Robin van Persie era. The Flying Dutchman is currently on the bad books of many Arsenal fans when he opted to join the ‘enemy’ but the latter period of his Arsenal career was flooded with a lot of goals, a whole damn lot. Van Persie was Arsenal’s get-out-of-jail-free card in many situations and with 132 goals to his name, it looked like a big void was left to fill when he departed in the start of the 2012/13 campaign. With van Persie gone, the Gunners had proactively signed two left-footed forwards to ease the pain of losing such an important attacking outlet.

Which brings us to good ol’ Olivier Giroud. He began his career in the French Ligue 2 and played in a couple of clubs before getting his breakthrough at Montpellier Herault SC. Giroud was instrumental in the club’s maiden Ligue 1 title in the 2011/12 campaign and when he joined the club at the point when van Persie was departing for greener pastures. With no other striker coming after the Dutchman was sold, there was a certain level of expectation, or should I say burden, that was placed on Giroud’s shoulders.

After smashing in 39 goals in his first two seasons at Arsenal, many of the fans still believed that Olivier Giroud wasn’t good enough to lead the line at Arsenal. The fans want a 30-goal a season striker that would also score in big games. Apparently, Giroud turned out to be a flat-track bully that only scored “lower teams” but he couldn’t do the same against the big guns of the Premier League. Last season, the fans were elated with the pursuits of Gonzalo Higuain and Luis Suarez, even if the moves didn’t come to fruition. That season, Giroud scored 22 goals in 51 games, Higuain netted 24 goals in 46 games and Suarez smashed in 31 goals in 37 games. Obviously good goalscoring returns for exceptional strikers in good form.

At the start of the new campaign, Giroud scored a late equalizer and suffered a long-term injury and some fans labeled Giroud’s injury as a “blessing in disguise” because they believed that Giroud’s injury would force Wenger to remove the dust of the Arsenal cheque book and sign that striker from Planet Krypton that would score goals in industrial quantities like Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. Then that guy, Danny Welbeck, arrives. Certainly not from Krypton and he certainly won’t give you 30 goals a season.

Since his return from injury, Giroud has scored Manchester United, Newcastle (brace), Liverpool, Manchester City, Aston Villa, Middlesbrough (brace), Crystal Palace and most recently, Everton which is a return of 10 goals in his last 17 games. This also took his overall tally to 51 goals in 119 games for Arsenal, which is pretty much impressive if you ask me. All those folks that made their voices heard about how Giroud doesn’t score in ‘big games’ were made to eat their words. Still it’s ‘not good enough’ for some Arsenal fans. Many they have watched Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi score so many goals with consummate ease and would prefer to see the same at the Emirates.

The table below shows the top five leagues in Europe and their top goal scorers.

LEAGUE LEADING GOAL SCORER (CLUB) GAMES PLAYED GOALS IN LEAGUE OVERALL GOALS
English Premier League Diego Costa (Chelsea) 28 17 18
English Premier League Sergio Aguero (Man City) 28 17 22
Spanish La Liga Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid) 36 30 39
Italian Serie A Mauro Icardi (Inter) 31 14 19
Italian Serie A Carlos Tevez (Juventus) 28 14 20
German Bundesliga Arjen Robben (FC Bayern) 25 17 19
French Ligue 1 Alex Lacazzete (OL) 30 21 25

Yes, we all want that dream striker that would give you 30-goals a season but looking at this list, you’d notice that they are the main goalscoring outlets in their respective clubs. At Arsenal, that load has been equally shared – Alexis Sanchez leads the charts with 18 goals, Santi Cazorla has eight, Welbeck seven, Ramsey six and even Ozil has popped in four. Giroud currently has 12 goals and in the form he’s in, I expect him to shatter the 20-goal mark sooner rather than later.

Strikers are naturally judged by goals but Arsenal fans that watch Giroud week in week out will know that he offers a lot to the team. In this brilliant piece on Mesut Ozil by North London is Red, the writer mentioned how Giroud’s offensive work is underrated. The striker’s link-up play is up there with the very best and his selfless nature has seen him notch up some assist for his teammates. Michael Owen can be very annoying on TV sometimes, but he was effusive in his praise for the French forward,

“Today he never shirked [against Everton]. Some of the lesser strikers would think about going missing a little bit. He was always involved.

“He makes bad balls into good balls. He can be that link player, he sets up chances, he gets in the box, he gets into the good areas. He is a good finisher with both feet and his head. I am really impressed.”

Many Arsenal fans would feel that Olivier Giroud might not bang in the goals like Robin van Persie, Ian Wright and Thierry Henry, but shouldn’t they at least wait till the end of the season before they access and reevaluate the striker’s performance this season?

At least, players like Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain have publicly praised his contributions to the team. I feel some of the fans should follow suit.

Sayonara.

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Olivier Giroud: How Badly Was he Missed?

Alexis Sanchez celebrates with his team-mates. Picture: PA

They say you never know what you have until you lose it.

After smashing in 39 goals in his first two seasons at Arsenal, many of the fans still believed that Olivier Giroud wasn’t good enough to lead the line at Arsenal. The fans want a 30-goal a season striker that would also score in big games. Apparently, Giroud turned out to be a flat-track bully that only scored “lower teams” but he couldn’t do the same against the big guns of the Premier League. Last season, the fans were elated with the pursuits of Gonzalo Higuain and Luis Suarez, even if the moves didn’t come to fruition.

Fast forward to the start of this season. Giroud scored a sumptuous strike to put the icing on the cake in the 3-0 trouncing of Manchester City in the Community Shield. Many folks were even quick to play down the best goal on the afternoon, citing that it was just a pre-season friendly and Manchester City didn’t take the game seriously. Then for reasons best known to Albus Dumbledore and Gandalf, Arsene Wenger opts for Yaya Sanogo ahead of Giroud in the curtain raiser against Crystal Palace. Giroud then played a significant role with a late equalizer against Everton then it happened, another terrible long term injury to one of the team’s most integral players.

Some fans labelled Giroud’s injury as a “blessing in disguise” because they believed that Giroud’s injury would force Wenger to remove the dust of the Arsenal cheque book and sign that striker from Planet Krypton that would score goals in industrial quantities like Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. Then that guy, Danny Welbeck, arrives. Certainly not from Krypton and he certainly won’t give you 30 goals a season.

A nice debut against Manchester City (who can forget that lobbed effort that clipped the post), a rather dismal outing agianst Dortmund then his goal arrived in Villa Park. A sign of things to come all season long? It was definitely to early to judge. Welbeck rose to prominence following his magnificent hat-trick against Galatasaray and watching the boy play so well on the night made the fans feel that he was the man to lead the line for years to come. He showed good reactions to score a late goal against Hull.

Then came the drought.

Anderlecht, Sunderland, Burnley, Anderlecht again, Swansea, Manchester United, Dortmund. Arsenal won only three games from the teams in the aforementioned list but the most significant thing about this run of fixtures was that Welbeck struggled to make an impact. Fine, it’s a team sport and messiahs like Alexis Sanchez had to pop up with the goods so the reliance on a player like Welbeck was slim to none. It’s also worth noting that Giroud scored an awesome goal against Manchester United but it was more or less a consolation.

After a frantic wait for his goal, he got his breakthrough in the Hawthorns and it was good seeing the English forward back on the score sheet. The game against Southampton was key to the Gunners because of its impact on the table. Thanks to their amazing start to the season, the Saints were six points ahead of the Gunners with six points so a win was paramount.

On the night, Welbeck was found wanting yet again. His passing was somewhat erratic and his finishing, boy. In his bid to get something out of the game, Arsene Wenger, in his infinite wisdom, decided that it was time for Giroud to aid the team and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was the player that was sacrificed to bring on the Frenchman. The boo boys made their voices heard but all they could do was boo right? They couldn’t change the fact that Giroud was on the pitch and Ox on the bench.

The Frenchman almost made an instant impact with a lovely volley that was parried by the excellent Forster. Then a moment of sheer intelligence was displayed by the real OG. With Welbeck on the defender’s blind side, Giroud executed one of his trademark flicks that put the Englishman through on goal. Welbeck had the pace to evade the defender but the finish was lacking as Forster parried his shot away.

That moment showed that playing 4-4-2 can certainly reap dividends for the club. Giroud offering that physical presence, aerial ability and intelligence to hold up and link up play with his teammates. Welbeck offering his raw reserves of pace and that work rate that inspires his teammates to do even more.

In the end, the Gunners sang praises for Alexis Sanchez for scoring the goal that gave the team all three points but everyone that watched the team well can attest to the fact that Giroud’s introduction sparked a revival which ultimately led to Arsenal getting all three points.

Whether Giroud starts ahead of Welbeck in the coming weeks is left for the manager to decide, but his cameo against West Brom and more recently, Southampton, shows that he can work well with his pacey counterparts.

How badly was he missed?

Sayonara

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