Ex-Arsenal star turned Sky Sports pundit Charlie Nicholas has backed us to qualify from our Champions League group with a win over Olympiacos, but claims he’s worried about the current form of Olivier Giroud, as reported by Sky Sports.
Our 3-0 win over Dinamo Zagreb this past Tuesday night has kept us in with a chance of qualification, but we need at least a 2-0 win over Olympiacos in the final game to reach the last 16. Nicholas is confident we can get the required result and progress in the competition, and praised our performance against the Croatian side in midweek.
“Arsenal are a better team than Olympiakos,” Nicholas told Soccer Special (via Sky Sports).
“They can go there and win by two clear goals and keep the back door shut.
“Tonight was a much improved and a more fluent Arsenal. They were good on the eye and [Mesut] Ozil was fantastic. [Alexis] Sanchez looks tired at times but he still scores two goals.
“I’m a bit concerned about Giroud. His form wasn’t good again tonight. His movement was lazy.
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“But I’m expecting [Theo] Walcott to be close to fitness by then [the Olympiakos game]. [Alex] Oxlade-Chamberlain will also be back and [Aaron] Ramsey got just over 20 minutes which was refreshing.”
Giroud has been in fine goalscoring form recently, and has been our top goalscorer since Theo Walcott became unavailable. Despite popping up with some important goals though, he certainly hasn’t been at his best the entire time. He is known for his link up and hold up play, but that’s been lacking somewhat recently. He appeared to thrive when competing with Walcott, with the competition helping both players improve. That added motivation looks to have dried up though, and the sooner the pacy Englishman returns the better; not necessarily so that he can reclaim a starting spot, but so that we have the option to rotate and the players have the fear of being dropped.
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Being concerned about the form of the French forward is a bit extreme, as he’s still scoring goals, but if that stops then we can start to worry. He may well be a little shaken in the wake of the Paris attacks, but if he wants to keep his starting spot then he’ll need to shake that off.