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Arsenal Euro 2016 Update: Giroud Opens Scoring as France Beat Romania

There is always that measure of pressure that comes playing an international tournament in front of your own turf. For the case of Olivier Giroud, there was some extra pressure as he was favored ahead of Karim Benzema, which divided opinions among the French fans.

A lot of chances fell his way and he gnashed his teeth in anguish as he failed to capitalize on most of them but in the second half, he got his reward for his sheer persistence as he reacted after the Romanian goalie fluffed at his chance to catch the ball and France was one goal to the good.

Les Bleus were in control of the game and seemed to be doing just fine but they took their feet off the pedal and allowed to the visitors to come back to the game when Patrice Evra clumsily fouled some chap in the box, leaving experienced Hungarian ref, Victor Kassai, no chance but to point to the spot. Star midfielder, Nicolae Stanciu, sent Hugo Lloris the wrong way and the visitors levelled the contest. Despite France’s incessant wave of attacking, Romania had a very clear cut chance to actually open the scoring but it took a point blank save from Lloris to deny a Romanian chap from scoring the maiden goal in the tournament.

Late on, Dimitri Payet showed his class again with a magnificent volley from quite some distance leaving the keeper rooted to the spot. Payet was substituted minutes after his match winner and the reception he got from the crowd was quite raucous, making him feel very emotional as a tear or two was seen creeping down his eyes.

This is what we ‘neutrals’ expected from the tournament and my keen focus will remain on the Gunners featuring in the competition.

Another Gunner is bracing himself for action as Switzerland take on Albania today.


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Giroud on Fire and Vardy Set for Medicals?

Olivier Giroud celebrates scoring for France against Scotland

The warm up games are winding down as we edge closer to the European Championships and there were some Gunners involved in international duty for their respective nations. Euro hosts, France, have been doing their bit to compete in competitive friendlies as they didn’t go through the rigors of qualifiers.

Didier Deschamps has become accustomed to setting out his side in a 4-3-3 tactical setup. When France hosted Scotland, Dechamps fielded the old guard of Patrice Evra and Bacary Sagna flanked Arsenal’s own Laurent Koscielny and Adil Rami. The all-powerful and energetic midfield trio of N’Golo Kante, Blaise Matuidi and Paul Pogba provided industry at the center of the park while Olivier Giroud spearheaded the attack and he was supported by Dimitri Payet and Kingsley Coman on the wings.

Giroud opened the scoring in such a cheeky fashion and it deserved a second viewing on this blog.

Surprisingly, the pass came from an unlikely source, Bacary Sagna. I didn’t know he had an assist or two in him. Giroud doubled his money when he reacted first to Payet parried shot to hand his nation a comfortable advantage. With eight goals in his last five games for club and country, he has been doing his bit to silence his critics.

Or maybe he heard about a certain Jamie Vardy that is scheduled to have his medicals at London Colney today. At first, it sounded like a smokescreen but when his manager, Claudio Ranieri, confirmed that Arsenal had submitted a bid for the player, and the club was powerless to put up a fight, as his release clause was activated. I have done my bit on this Vardy issue and I wouldn’t bother myself writing about it again.

I am hoping for Giroud and Vardy to have wonderful campaigns in the Euros and return unscathed. Vardy also offers his versatility as he’s very playing on the right wing, just in case Arsene Wenger decides to go all Wengerly with his team selection. You know, Wenger has a knack for featuring square pegs in round holes.

More on the Vardy situation as it develops.

Have a happy Sunday.

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Can Giroud Cope With his New Status as Arsenal Backup Striker?

Olivier Giroud and Theo Walcott are competing for a single striker's position at Arsenal

Football can be a cruel sport sometimes.

One moment you are the hottest thing on the planet. The next moment you’re a forgotten figure and folks would wonder if you ever existed. Look at the classic case of ex-Gunner, Thomas Vermaelen. The Belgian Verminator joined the club from Ajax and brought his aggressive and gung-ho style of defending to Arsenal’s back line, earning himself plaudits as the ‘Nemanja Vidic of Arsenal’. He even scored a couple of goals too and he was indispensable to the team. Things got even better for the Verm as he was named Arsenal captain after Robin van Persie’s acrimonious departure to Manchester United.

Then things went downhill for the defender. Injuries and some erratic form saw the Belgian lose his place to Laurent Koscielny and he never found his way back into the team. After some more manhours on the bench, Vermaelen called time on his Arsenal career and made a swap to Barcelona’s bench that’s a bit warmer. If some sage or fortune teller had told the Verm that he would be on the bench a couple of seasons later after such an amazing debut season in England that saw him make 45 appearances and score eight goals, he must have thought that person was crazy, but hey, that’s football.

Bringing my point back home, Arsenal has a certain Olivier Giroud that has suddenly found himself on the fringes at the club this season. From his time at Istres, Tours, Montpellier and his first three seasons at Arsenal, Giroud has always been the alpha-dog in attack. He’s an exceptionally fit player that has amassed so many minutes for his respective clubs with his first major injury layoff coming last season but he still managed to score 19 goals which was pretty impressive if you ask me.

However, Giroud began this campaign quite poorly and Arsene Wenger offered Theo Walcott a chance in the position he really loves. Since Walcott got a run-out of games as a center forward he has been very impressive and his performance against Manchester United a fortnight ago would go down as one of his finest in Arsenal colors. Walcott continued his fine form on the international scene with a goal for England against Estonia and he’s odds on to start ahead of Giroud in the forthcoming games against Watford, Bayern Munich and Everton. Giroud may probably get the nod in the Capital One Cup clash with Sheffield Wednesday, and this essentially means that he’s now behind Walcott in the pecking order for the center forward position.

The Frenchman recently stated in an interview that he has never experienced being a backup striker in his career and he’s determined to fight for his place,

“At Arsenal, I am in competition with Theo for the striker position, but he is doing well at the moment so there is no reason to change.

“Whether it was at Tours, Montpellier or Arsenal, I have never experienced a situation like this, I have often played from the start. I need to take positives and to harden myself mentally. It is something new for me.

I was in [Walcott’s] place in previous seasons at Arsenal. I imagine what he must have been thinking. But I feel that the coach believes in me.

“It has been for several matches now that I have played less, that is for sure, but I do not need to be worried. I need a bit more game time but also to believe more in my abilities.”

In eight Premier League games this season, Giroud has only started three games but he has done well to get three goals to his name. Wenger has stated that he’s going to rotate his team efficiently this season, so Giroud will get his chances.

The question is, how has Giroud fared with the chances he has had this season? Since Walcott got the nod ahead of the Frenchman, he has made a lot of substitute appearances, and he has been afforded some great goalscoring opportunities he has spurned with the only exception coming in the 5-2 rout of Leicester where he put the icing on the cake for the Gunners.

Giroud has to accept the fact that Walcott is in better form than him and Wenger would select a player in form. The competition is also healthy for the team and it would bring out the best in both forwards. Walcott has gotten how it feels to spend a lot of time on the bench as recently as last season, where the manager favored Aaron Ramsey and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain ahead of the English speedster and it must have been hell. Then there was the protracted contract saga that made fans question his loyalty.

After spending so much time on the bench, coupled with Giroud’s drought in front of goal, Walcott got a big break in the dead-rubber fixture against West Brom were he bagged himself a hat-trick and he also opened the scoring in the FA Cup final against Aston Villa, which gave his manager something to think about. Wenger had thought carefully about the potential of the forwards at his disposal and he opted not to sign a new striker in the summer – something that didn’t go down well with the fans.

I’m happy to see both forward give their best to the team and what I love the most is the fact that Giroud and Walcott as two different types of strikers, which adds some dynamism to Arsenal’s play. With Giroud, the players pass to feet for linkup play and bombard crosses with the assurances that he would deliver and with Walcott, the players pass into space to exploit his frightening pace. These sorts of stuff keeps opposition defenders thinking.

I hope both forwards can stay fit because they’re all we have at the moment. Danny Welbeck will be out for a long while.


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