Matches upon matches of no goals from his French striker haven’t convinced Arsene Wenger that Olivier Giroud is a failure, and won’t be the answer to his scoring problems. Instead of letting Theo Walcott play the way he wants, he keeps relying on someone who is proving again and again that scoring goals isn’t his best quality.
Scoring 21 goals in Ligue 1 doesn’t translate to easy scoring in the Premier League. Not when your size and ability to drop down balls to your teammates is your best quality. Arsenal don’t play with long balls and hardly cross the ball into the box. The game is mostly on the ground, and until Arsene Wenger figures out what to do and who to play on the left that’s actually a natural winger, it will continue to be based on overloading central midfielders and dispersing them to wrong positions.
Not the kind of system Giroud can flourish in. He’s dangerous in the air, but he hardly gets a chance to demonstrate it. He has the ability to drop an aerial ball to anyone that’s close to him, but Arsenal’s system means he’s all alone in the box most of the time, with Walcott being banished to other areas when Giroud is on the pitch, unless the Frenchman becomes more mobile for some reason.
Wenger said that Arsenal had a shot at Demba Ba, who would have been a cheaper purchase that Giroud, but Wenger said they preferred the French, more expensive striker from Montpellier than the proven scorer from Newcastle, who would have been a cheaper acquisition, and knows how to play with another striker next to him.
The rest of the match, besides watching Giroud do things a striker shouldn’t, was be amazed at how soft and stunned Arsenal players were during the first half, when even the highly regarded Jack Wilshere was overcome by the snow and the speed of the Chelsea attacking, while Santi Cazrola was once again made useless by playing on the left. Wenger doesn’t want to leave certain players out of the lineup, so he just puts them in positions where their chances of succeeding are small. It hasn’t been working out for him.
Abou Diaby didn’t look menacing at all, not completely fit or restored to play 90 minutes. But not even that. Along with the centre backs, Thomas Vermaelen and Per Mertesacker, they hardly managed a stop or decisive tackle for an entire half. Chelsea had a free ride into the Arsenal box, just couldn’t make anything of it.
In the second half, the speed of Walcott was enough, for one time, to bring Arsenal back into the match. After that Benitez moved his players backwards, and the gunners hardly got a chance. The disappointing Francis Coquelin left the pitch for Aaron Ramsey, and you were left wondering why the much better Welsh player didn’t start in his place, as Coquelin did nothing to hold up possession or create anything for his team.
The Champions League spot keeps slipping away from Arsenal, while Arsene Wenger is probably thinking of his next excuse. If they do finish the season so far away from the leading pack, it’s going to be very hard explaining why he should be keeping his job.