One loss doesn’t mean the end of the world, but when you’re on top of the league, everyone is looking for a hint that you’re cracking. Arsenal aren’t a perfect team, they never were. However, their lack of support to their one and only striker, Olivier Giroud, might begin taking its toll soon enough, and maybe even has already begun.
According to Laurent Koscileny, Giroud’s teammate for France as well, it’s hard on the striker to be fronting the attack every single match, knowing that there really isn’t anyone that Wenger trusts to replace him with and allow Giroud some rest.
It’s true that he’s not scoring but he is setting them up, like he did against Dortmund. But he’s also playing game after game and hasn’t had a rest, so maybe he’s feeling a bit of fatigue. He’s very important for us – strong and always answers the call on the pitch. If you look at the games, he weighs enormously on the opposition’s defence. All the balls he wins are in the air with his back to goal. He works very hard up front.
The 27-year old has started in all 11 league matches for Arsenal, never playing less than 72 minutes, and usually staying the entire 90. He has played the full 90 minutes in all four Champions league matches, and two more matches (not full 90 minutes) in the playoffs against Fenerbahce.
So who do Arsenal have to use for Giroud to get some rest? Nicklas Bendtner, who Wenger trusts only as a substitute or a starter in meaningless League Cup matches, and Yaya Sanogo, who is injured, but wasn’t going to be a big part of whatever Arsenal were doing this season anyway.
Theo Walcott and Lukas Podolski are still injured, and although they aren’t strikers, Wenger has used them in that capacity before, and it would have obviously been called for to make use of them in that role once again with Giroud needing the rest at some point.
He’s not getting too much of it in the international break – France have two matches to play against Ukraine, although he probably won’t start. For now, there’s really nothing Wenger can do unless he’s planning on changing his tactics or making an unwise gamble on Bendtner, which means a fatigued Giroud is going to have to buckle up and wait for someone to recover from his injuries, while Arsenal will have to rely more and more on their midfield, and expect less from Giroud, who’ll find it harder and harder to win physical and aerial battles he is so good at without getting a proper rest from time to time.