Point taken. Now, will Wenger find the G-spot before Chelsea or he is already pleased? by AP
The fixture list hasn’t given us much time to gloat because of the nice result at Etihad this weekend. Our next Premier League opponent is one of our arch-rivals and, just like our previous opponent, they are a team that became a European force thanks to another foreign billionaire who didn’t spare money on his favourite toy: Chelsea.
While we suffer from a trophy-drought since 2005, Chelsea are defending champions of Europe and FA Cup winners. In the period between Autumn 2004 and December 2010 Chelsea was our jinx-team, mostly because of Didier Drogba, the powerful center-forward that regularly scored against us and used his physical dominance over our defenders.
In that period we played two matches worth of trophies against Chelsea (granted, Community Shield and League Cup are not exactly the most exciting competitions but every trophy counts) and we lost both of them 1:2.
Luck has seemed to be changing after wonderful display in December 2010 when we won 3:1 at Emirates. For the first time in years we looked like team that is physically enabled to dominate Chelsea using speed of Walcott, strength of Djourou and young and fresh midfielders Fabregas, Nasri and Song at their prime.
We won 5:3 at Stamford Bridge in October 2011 while our last encounter at Emirates ended 0:0. Both teams changed their appearance ahead of this season adding fresh blood and, what seems even more important, fresh ideas. Players like Podolski, Cazorla, Hazard and Oscar have made the Premiership even better than it was in previous seasons, mostly because it seems that recently established Manchester duopoly could end sooner than anyone thought. Chelsea is four points ahead of us and despite the fact they are yet to play stronger opponents, our point from Etihad will lose its worth if we don’t win at Saturday.
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Therefore, there are certain things that Wenger needs to resolve before Chelsea. There are only a few things that are certain regarding our attacking options. We all know the story about Olivier Giroud – Frenchman was signed from reigning France champions Montpellier but failed to find the opponent’s net in previous matches. His Arsenal career so far can be described as “Lost In Pace”. So far he is not adjusted to the Premiership pace so he can’t find himself enough space to receive the ball. His technique (as well as his shot technique) are not on the highest level which makes him vulnerable except when he plays like mantinelle. So far, Giroud has one assist and it came when he was mantinelle for Podolski before equalizer against Montpellier.
During his impressive campaign with Montpellier Giroud scored most of his goals with his first touch – he used to hit the ball with his powerful left foot, almost without looking at the opponent’s goal. His missed chance against Sunderland which would’ve been a much nicer example of what kind of finisher Giroud is if only that ball found Mignolet’s net instead of going wide. Now, it’s not that Giroud doesn’t have any qualities to play in Premiership.
In my first article I mentioned his team-work. He is really good in the air (too bad his header against Liverpool went over the bar) and, if he can’t find himself space, he can do that for his team-mates using his strength.
There is another G-man in our attack that made us a bit disappointed with the draw at Etihad. It’s Gervinho. The Ivorian is one of those players Wenger signed from the French league but needed some time to adapt. Unfortunately, Gervinho went through some tough times in England and didn’t have an impact I’m sure he is capable of making.
In his very first match in England he met Joey Barton and got red carded after Barton provoked him. After he missed three matches because of the straight red card, he had to adjust to new a Arsenal than it was in preseason. Fabregas and Nasri left, the team reached bottom after losing 8:2 at Old Trafford and new players came in at the last moment of the transfer window. He scored a goal at Ewood Park but failed to make assist to our most recent former captain when we were 2:1 ahead – Gervinho decided to finish action instead of passing.
Later, we lost Sagna to injury and conceded three goals (two of which were own goals) against side that was relegated later. Gervinho had some decent appearances (Stoke, Sunderland, Chelsea) despite being mocked by some British journalists.
After he went to CAN to play for Ivory Coast, he had another set back when he missed the deciding penalty in CAN-final against Zambia. His shot went over the bar. After CAN Gervinho was a peripheral figure in Wenger’s plans.After Giroud failed to score in first three fixtures, Gervinho was selected as center-forward against Southampton.
That trick was something Wenger prepared in preseason and it turned out to be really good – Gervinho scored twice against the Saints and the winning goal in France against Montpellier. Versus City he gave another good performance when it comes to opening space for his team-mates, dribbling opponents and creating chances for himself. Unfortunately, Gervinho didn’t score at Etihad although he had to score the winning goal in the 90th minute. His shots are usually going wide or over the bar because, just like Giroud, Gervinho suffers from poor shooting technique. Two out of three goals he scored so far came from point-blank range. His abilities are well-known although underestimated: he can create space for himself and his team-mates since he is excellent when it comes to dribbling (he reminds me of Robben, probably the best in that job) or enabling his team-mates to drop in from midfield.
However, the dilemma about Giroud and Gervinho can be resolved in another way as well. Theo Walcott wants to play as center-forward and stated that it is his condition for renewing his expiring contract. Walcott had some memorable displays against Chelsea (in aforementioned victories in December 2010 and October 2011) and, with his pace, speed and finishing, can exploit the fact that both Terry and Luiz are prone to mistakes. Walcott is neither skillful like Gervinho nor strong like Giroud but maybe this is one of those situations when we should kill two birds* with one stone.
* – no birds were harmed during the writing of this article