Football fans have short memories, and anyone berating Arsene Wenger for not bringing in a striker isn’t too angry now as they see the new and improved version of Olivier Giroud, now coming with an upgraded midfield to provide him with chances, including Mesut Ozil who still needs time to settle down and a fantastic Aaron Ramsey.
Wenger shouldn’t be left off the hook – waiting till the final day, more or less, to make anything meaningful happen isn’t the way to conduct business. Keeping his squad quite lean in terms of cover for both Giroud and Theo Walcott, his two most important attacking players, isn’t the best piece of long-term thinking as well, unless he has inexplicable trust in an inexperienced player like Yaya Sanogo.
But for all those (including me) who found it very hard to understand what Wenger was seeing in Giroud as he insisted on giving him his full backing despite looking sluggish and inaccurate during his first season for the club, the first month of Premier League football, as Giroud scored four goals in four matches, is a good enough answer that sometimes talent needs more than a few matches to come out.
Patience is the key word in the Wenger view on football, maybe too much patience. While waiting for players to develop into stars, rivals win titles, and Arsenal just play attractive and pleasing-on-eyes football, which brings them nowhere. By the time the development has been complete, those big clubs, who simply love taking shortcuts and buying the complete product, ruin it for Arsenal and Wenger when they should be enjoying their development the most.
Giroud isn’t exactly a wonderkid who was groomed by Wenger from a young age. He’ll turn 27 at the end of this month, and is pretty much where players should be at the best time of their career. The way Giroud is playing – a lot sharper, quicker and more accurate than last season, talking about winning the Golden Boot – competing with the likes of Robin van Persie, Christian Benteke and Daniel Sturridge shouldn’t be too much of a problem.
The problems (which are there) appear when you look behind Giroud, to the bench. Arsenal are very stacked in the midfield, with Ramsey, Rosicky, Wilshere, Flamini, Ozil and Cazorla, not to mention waiting for the injured Diaby and Arteta to comeback. But upfront, they rely heavily on Walcott and Giroud, while Sanogo and Podoloski seem to be the only cover Arsenal have at the moment – not enough when you consider that injuries happen, and a European season means that some rotation and rest will be needed at some point.
Giroud is showing that he’s more than just physically gifted to handle the difficulties of the Premier League – he’s simply a very good striker and possibly very close to a complete package, even if he isn’t the best at anything he does. While it does breathe new hope to the Arsenal aspirations of doing more than fourth place, it’s hard to believe relying on one striker for an entire season is the right way to win titles.