When people mention Arsenal as a disappointing team, it’s not about being bad. Making the Champions League every season means you’re doing something right. And yet, and overall feeling of mediocrity and settling for less surrounds the club, and having a starting striker like Olivier Giroud might be the best example for their lack of ambition.
At first look, Giroud is a catch at the £10.5 million Arsenal paid for him. Giroud took his time in adapting to the Premier League, finishing with 11 league goals and 5 assists last season, starting in 24 matches. He’s turning 27 in two months, so Arsenal probably have a few good years to get out of him before he starts sinking.
Giroud is strong in the air, has a powerful long range shot and is hard to close down for an entire match. He’ll get his two-three good chances, even against excellent defenses. And… he’ll probably miss them.
Maybe it’s his speed, or lack of it, that makes you wonder of what Arsene Wenger was thinking when he took Giroud on – a player without too much Ligue 1 experience, and especially not too much impressive seasons at France’s highest level of football. Maybe there’s a reason no one took a big chance on him until he turned 25, and having only one really good season in a lesser league should have fired off some warning signs.
But this is Arsenal under Wenger and Kroenke. Keeping the precious wage structure intact seems to be the most important thing. Instead of going after a big name in the market and offering him a salary that would make him consider, Arsenal try and find the diamond in the roughs. It’s harder and harder to believe a player who hasn’t been noticed through the first 7-8 years of his career is suddenly going to turn out as a world class striker just because Arsene Wenger is the one managing him.
Arsenal are at least involved in big names, instead of trying to force players to stay. However, without any world class talent left in the squad (which means that last season’s fourth place finish might be a bigger achievement than anyone would care to admit, it isn’t that hard keeping players on the team.
Wayne Rooney, Gonzalo Higuain, Luis Suarez. Does anyone actually believe Arsenal will land them? For now, it looks like Arsene Wenger trying to keep shareholders happy by making noises of an attempted purchase, but not really believing in it. However, without a serious upgrade at the striker position, meaning another season of Giroud disappointing in big matches and adding a few more incredible misses to his long list, a fourth place is all this team can hope for.