On paper, Arsenal boast one of the most potent attacking lines in the Premier League. Mikel Arteta has a number of proven options in the final third but the Spaniard seems unsure of how to set up his team, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang played through the middle for the home defeat to Wolves on Sunday.
Primarily used on the left until recently, Arteta’s decision to shift Aubameyang centrally illustrated how he hasn’t settled on an attacking framework to sustain the Gunners. This call left Alexandre Lacazette on the bench, with Bukayo Saka on the left and Willian on the right. The selection and system didn’t really work as Arsenal suffered a disappointing 2-1 loss.
Between Aubameyang, Lacazette, Eddie Nketiah and Gabriel Martinelli, who is still recovering from injury, Arteta hasn’t found the right figure to lead his attacking line. A lack of midfield creativity has certainly been a factor in the Gunners’ toothlessness this season, with Arteta lacking a natural playmaker, but even if Arsenal had that sort of figure they might not have the attacking set-up to make the most of it.
If Arsenal are to use the January transfer window to find a new centre-forward, they could do a lot worse than offering a North London return to Olivier Giroud. Of course, the Frenchman spent six years at the Emirates Stadium between 2012 and 2018, making over 200 appearances for the Gunners before making the switch to Chelsea.
Giroud made that move with his place in the French national team in mind, keen to gain first team football ahead of the 2018 World Cup. In the short-term, the switch paid off. Giroud was handed more game time at Stamford Bridge, earning him a spot in the France squad for the tournament. The striker was a key figure for Les Blues as they went all the way in Russia.
Now, though, the situation has been flipped. Giroud has fallen down the pecking order at Chelsea and it’s at Arsenal where he would almost certainly be used more frequently. Once again, there is a major international tournament on the horizon and Giroud is keen to prove his worth to Didier Deschamps as he decides his squad for Euro 2020.
One criticism that has long been made of Olivier Giroud is that he isn’t a natural goalscorer. Arteta doesn’t a natural goalscorer to lead the line, though. He needs someone to bring others into play, to make good use of space and occupy opposition defenders. These are all things Giroud does well. He’s the focal point the Gunners need at this moment in time.
Of course, persuading Chelsea to let one of their players join a close rival midway through the season wouldn’t be easy, but there’s good reason to believe Giroud might push through a move. With Tammy Abraham and Timo Werner ahead of him in the pecking order at Stamford Bridge, the Frenchman would almost certainly receive more game time for the Gunners. Lampard might not want to risk a dissenting voice in the dressing room and therefore could be persuaded to let Giroud go.
Arsenal have to be smarter in the transfer market. Their club record signing, Nicolas Pepe, has been a peripheral figure this season. They had a £46.5 million striker, Alexander Lacazette, on the bench for the defeat to Wolves. A centre back pairing worth over £60 million (Shkodran Mustafi and William Saliba) are currently playing for the club’s under 23 side.
It isn’t about spending big, but about signing smartly and Olivier Giroud would be a smart signing for the situation Arsenal currently find themselves in. Circumstances have changed since the Frenchman left for Stamford Bridge two years ago. The scenario has been flipped and the Gunners should at least explore the option of a return.
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