AP: The Gervinho/Giroud conundrum – Wenger has some thinking to do!

| September 26, 2012 | 10 Comments


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.

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

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  • Eriss

    Well Walcort a #9 is worth a trial, but by my understanding, Gervinho and Giroud hasn’t failed yet. And who knows, they could bang in some against Cheski.

  • cupsui

    I agree here,
    I would go with Walcott up top in this match and then its a choice of rambo or gervinho or even the ox on the right…all three have a case. Rambo will allow us to control the ball and tempo better and had his best game in a millenium against city although he was caught jogging back in defence a couple times but i think the wing is his best position right now.
    This is not to short change Giroud at all because he is playing well. He played really well against monpellier and a good cameo against city, really troubling kompany and lescott. But the pace of walcott will really worry terry, and with rambo in there are even more players to exploit his runs. I predict a real impact from cazorla and podolski in this one and arsenal to win 2-0

    come on gooners!!

    • NKC

      Dude! Ramsey cannot play on the wings period! Did u watch the man city match? He kept drifing to the central midfield position, why?because dats his original position; the only reason wenger puts him on the wings is because of his work rate and dats it; of which dat same work rate is evident in gervinho, ox and walcott; of which these players are naturally wingers.

  • David

    I really can’t see what Theo has to offer apart from running into space. As always, we should trust Wenger in all of this. He has transformed Henry and RVP amongst others from wingers to strikers, always noting their movement and raw eye for goal as something that allowed the transition to be made. Wenger identified Gervinho’s movement and also Giroud’s movement as the style he likes – to create space and blind-side defenders.

    Theo has always been a ‘knock the ball to space and run onto it’ kind of player. he never/at least rarely exploits teams that sit deep looking for a point or smash and grab win -which is more often the case in teams we play against. He doesn’t have the technical savvy or deft touches to out smart defenders. His goal against chelsea last year was a product only of his poor dribbling skills that fortuitously worked out for him. more often than not though, he runs it over the end-line.

    If as a striker he plays against a high line- both he and gervinho would be effective with speed and movement. But if he hasn’t made the transition yet I believe it’s because Wenger doesn’t see it in him – and on Wenger’s track record, you’d have to put your faith in Le Prof.

    • David

      ALSO: I disagree that Giroud has ‘poor shooting technique’. He strikes the ball cleanly and with Finesse but he simply doesn’t have good economy. His goals to games/minutes played ratio isn’t much worse off to what it was for Montpellier last season – I can’t remember the exact ratio from the arsenal website but it was a goal every 2.8 games or something. It will take him time to settle as a goal scorer and to find himself getting the right ball from his team-mates much like RVP was getting last year but his all round play is fantastic. I am excited for the final element of his game to flourish and the doubters can recede to the shadows.

      Plus, even in a game that Giroud doesn’t score, I think he offers more than what Walcott would offer. Walcott is often wasteful and creates negative scenarios on an off day whereas Giroud works his socks off and has excellent hold up play and space creation.

      Did I mention that Giroud is also dreamy :P

      • Josif

        Mate, if you saw tonight’s penalty Giroud took and missed, you will understand why I think Giroud has poor shooting technique. He ALWAYS shoot his penalties like he did tonight and that is something I noticed few months ago when I watched his YouTube-clip with goals from last season in Montpellier. Every time he shoots to right goalkeeper’s corner and I’m glad he took penalty in Capital One cup against Coventry and not, e.g. against Chelsea in Premiership. ;)

        • David

          But he struck the ball strong and accurate and to a side, it was just a bad height so that the keeper didn’t have to adjust his body to make a save on the side he had guessed. His technique of striking the ball was spot on… as was his technique for his sublime finish and assist.

          Maybe his shot selection isn’t always the right one but his technique… I can’t see how you can knock it. He has multiple types of shots available to him, both orthodox and unorthodox which makes him difficult to mark.

  • rukky

    we all know chelshit stands no chance at the emirates even if they are given a messi to strike 4 them and a ronaldo to assist,there is only one result I see in that game and that’s an arsenal victory. They should not be deceived by the flattering scoreline in capital one cup. As far as am concerned, the only test they have had this season is against juventus and in my book, they didn’t pass considering playing home and letting go of a 2-goal advantage. As for the newcastle game, they met a tired side on the day and I don’t think the scoreline really reflected what happened. Chelsea, u are welcome to the emirates.. Come and taste your first defeat cos only one of two things can happen. Either arsenal convincingly win the match or chelsick miserably lose the game. Either way, arsenal victory is sure. I could care less who strikes for us

  • Foolishgooner

    Amen: we finally have options upfront big strong, pace skill and pace! did I say pace? You figured which arsenalnews forwards I just named. Well, Giroud not the real deal yet, might take time to get on the scoresheet. Gervinho looks looks like that he ready and is doing more than his part to justify his selection, even though he could make better decisions in critical moments. He definitely could get better! Theo… All I hear is demands through contract, good player. Someone said that he wants to be Henry 2.0.. All well, but Henry didn’t demand lobby to the manager to play CF the manager couldn’t wait to accomadiate for him. Same goes RVP, listen Mr. Walcott earn it on the pitch and don’t bitch about it. I love Theo as much as any player who puts the red and white and contributed memories of Gunners worldwide…. Mesmerizing pace, composure finishing but little tricky or movement or strength to play upfront on his own! Unless formation is changed for him, to be fair Le prof changed formation for Henry and RVP… Will he for theo? Cheers!

  • DocBrody

    How has Gervinho “earned it on the pitch” any more than Walcott?

    Some fans seem to hold Walcott to a higher standard than his team mates. Is he perfect? No. Will he ever be as good as Henry? No. But has he done more than Gervinho, Giraurd, Chamakh, and pretty much any other gooner currently on the team? Yes. Most assists, most goals last season of any current player.