If Arsenal Want To Win The Title, They Must Accommodate Giroud (w/ Player Ratings)

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[ Credit: joshjdss @ Flickr ]

What. A. Game.

If you wanted a football match to launch a Premier League season then this was it. It had everything, end to end football, some stunning goals, late comebacks – great for the neutral I’m sure but not great for Arsenal fans or Arsene Wenger with only 20 minutes to go!

Arsenal had the perfect start with new signing Alexandre Lacazette scoring with 2 minutes of the game gone. Then Arsenal, did an Arsenal. Leicester scored twice to take the lead which in no part came from defensive naivety from a make-shift back three. With Mertesacker, Koscielny and Mustafi out injured or suspended, we played Rob Holding (to be fair has been excellent for us), Nacho Monreal and Sead Kolasinac. With the back three flanked by Hector Bellerin and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, at times we struggled and it will be interesting to see who our first choice back five is when everyone is fit.

Rob Holding struggled and Arsene Wenger eluded to it in his post-match press conference, which I feel is a bit unfair as he didn’t have an experienced central defender helping him out.

We conceded two goals from set-prices and another from a situation where Granit Xhaka gave the ball away, which on the night was quite a lot. Our midfield struggled and Leicester successfully stifled the influence of Xhaka and Elneny, with Mesut Özil trying his best but ultimately unable to exert his usual influence on the game.

In attack Arsenal looked good, considering Leicester had 10 men behind the ball and credit to them, the opposition looked very good indeed and similar to the Leicester of two years ago. Vardy looked razor sharp and you forgot how quick he really is but he gave our back three all kinds of problems last night. Albrighton, perhaps a player who doesn’t get all the plaudits has one hell of a delivery and his cross lead to the first Leicester goal.

Lacazette put in a decent shift but was pretty much up against 3/4 players all night, and was unlucky not score another when Giroud laid the ball off and he showed quick feet, only to be denied by a great save from Schmeichel. Danny Welbeck did well and scored after a nice lay off from Kolasinac and of course then there are the super-subs, Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud.

With 20 minutes to go, Arsene Wenger brought on Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud for Rob Holding and Danny Welbeck. Arsenal then had a back four which included a winger and three full backs in Oxlade-Chamberlain, Nacho Monreal, Sead Kolasinac and Hector Bellerin. And to their credit, Arsenal went for it and it all paid off in the end.

A Mesut Özil corner found its way to Granit Xhaka, who found Aaron Ramsey at the back post. His first touch was excellent and he smashed the ball into the net with a powerful toe-poke.

Arsenal had Leicester on the ropes at this point and a lovely through ball from Ramsey found Giroud who played the ball back to Lacazette. The Frenchman weaved his way past 3 players before lashing a shot towards the roof of the next, before Schmeichel tipped it over the bar.

From the resulting corner from Xhaka, Giroud scored a simply stunning header – only a goal he could score – which bounced off the underside of the bar and over the line.

The comeback was complete and Olivier Giroud showed how vital he is to Arsenal’s season. Without him, we could have (and probably would have) dropped points and all the negativity around the club would have reared it’s ugly head. But as it stands, Arsenal are top of the league with an opening day win and have maximum points.

We all know what it’s like in the Premier League these days and dropping any points at all is a massive setback if you aspire to win the title.

Olivier Giroud gives Arsenal something no-one else can, and it’s vital that Arsene Wenger can find a place for him in our starting eleven. When he came on, his link up play with Alexandre Lacazette was excellent and that is something which could push us on to greater heights.

Player Ratings:

Petr Cech: 6/10

Did well to deny Jamie Vardy on a couple of occasions – firstly after coming off his line quickly to stop a through ball and then a quick dive at the feet of the pacy striker when the game was carefully poised at 4-3. Probably could have done better on a couple of the goals Leicester did score, but had a make-shift defence in front of him.

Rob Holding: 5/10

Had a night to forgot, poor lad. Gave everything and you cannot fault his effort but struggled against an experienced and cunning strikers in Vardy and Okazaki. Probably should have closed down Fuchs much quicker to deny the first Vardy goal and overall had a tough evening.

Nacho Monreal: 6/10

You’re asking a player who isn’t a central defender to command the back line with a young Rob Holding and a new signing who is also more of a full back in Sead Kolasinac. Did as well as he could but was asked to play out of position – if he’s in the back three he’s usually the left sided defender alongside two central defenders. Played the ball out of the back well but struggled against the Leicester attacks and we were too open at the back.

Sead Kolasinac: 7/10

A bit of a strange debut – struggled defensively (which is a bit of a problem if you’re playing as a central defender) but strangely did really well going forward. Played incisive and positive passes forward, and was unselfish when through on goal and showed real composure to lay the ball off to Danny Welbeck for our first equaliser. Involved in most things and gave it everything – so overall a positive start for the Tank.

Hector Bellerin: 7/10

Up and down the right flank all night and gave 110%. Gave Arsenal width which was needed to stretch the Leicester back line but did leave the poor Rob Holding exposed defensively at times which caused Arsenal big problems.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain: 7/10

Bright and incisive, Oxlade-Chamberlain always took on the Leicester defence and caused the visiting team problems – and was unlucky when he lashed a left-footed effort just over the bar in the first half. Very positive play from him and you wonder if left wing back will be his permanent position.

Granit Xhaka: 6/10

Provided two assists on the night which proved decisive but was generally poor all night – giving the ball away on so many occasions and lost possession for Leicester’s second goal. Struggled to link up with Elneny with any meaningful influence but did better when Aaron Ramsey came on.

Mohammad Elneny: 5/10

Was out of his depth which was disappointing after a good performance against Chelsea last week. Wasn’t helped by Leicester sitting so deep so had no space to really help the team. Moved the ball on well but couldn’t seem to penetrate the Leicester midfield.

Mesut Özil: 5/10

Had a poor night for me. Didn’t look himself at all and seemed to me as if he wasn’t fully fit. Not and influential as we know he can be and his performance showed why there is no interest from any big clubs in signing him. Too peripheral and floats in and out of games far too often. At half time I wanted Arsene Wenger to bring him off and bring on Olivier Giroud.

Danny Welbeck: 7/10

Tried time and time again to make something happen and was full of running for the cause. Didn’t have much space at all to do anything but scored the vital equaliser and had a few moments where he got through their defence and was unlucky not to score.

Alexandre Lacazette: 7/10

Made a dream start with a goal after 2 minutes and showed some good touches. Tough to judge his performance as Leicester had a 10 man defence and could have been the hero at 3-3 when his fancy footwork in the box almost resulting in a goal. Overall a positive debut with a goal and win, and you can’t really ask for any more than that.

Aaron Ramsey: 8/10

Came on and was decisive, positive and lead the team forward. Excellent goal and excellent influence when he came on.

Olivier Giroud: 8/10

Getting a reputation for being a super-sub, but he really is super. Gave Leicester City all kinds of problems and scored a simply stunning header which only he can. Football is all about fine margins and I dare say without him in our squad, we would struggle badly this season.

Theo Walcott: 4/10

Made no meaningful contribution and not sure if he even touched the ball?

My Thoughts On The Neymar Transfer To PSG

Everyone is going crazy over the £198 million transfer of Neymar to PSG, in deal which is apparently worth a total of £450 million. The Brazilian is reportedly going to get paid something in the region of £520,000 per week, and that’s after tax.

And it’s the financial side of the deal which has got everyone’s knickers in a twist.

But for me, I don’t get all the fuss over it.

Yes, the amount of money in football is ridiculous but it’s been like this since about 20 years ago when Ronaldo went from Barcelona to Inter Milan for £20 million. Of course, £20 million doesn’t seem like much nowadays but that was back in 1997! The footballing world went mad a long time ago, so the Neymar situation is hardly surprising or “crazy” like everyone is making out.

Look at sports like Formula 1, Basketball, American Football – other sports have been paying much more money to sportsman in other fields for a long, long time. Neymar might be earning mega bucks but is still behind Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso for yearly earnings. And you could argue they “work” a lot less than a professional footballer does.

If you ask me what’s more crazy it’s the fact that Neymar is only worth 4 Kyle Walkers or is just slightly more expensive on Paul Pogba and Romalu Lukaku combined. If I had the choice between the United flops or Neymar, I’d want Neymar every single time as he is one of the few players who is actually world class.

Should Arsenal Sell Alexis Sanchez? Vote & Comment Here!

So here we are, the Alexis Sanchez conundrum.

The forward, and Arsenal’s best player, is into the final 12 months of his contract and is apparently looking for a move away from the club – and that club seems to be Manchester City after Bayern Munich’s interest has petered out, added to the fact that they have just signed James Rodriguez (on loan) from Real Madrid.

So the million-dollar question is should Arsenal sell him?

The £50 million valuation from Arsenal seems to be a sticking point as no club has yet to officially submit a concrete bid for the Chilean. So the question is are Manchester City looking at getting him for far less?

As a £50 million bid from the blue side of Manchester would put the ball in Arsenal’s court.

Alexis Sanchez is currently on £130,000 per week and it’s reported that Sanchez is looking for an increase to £400,000 per week – a figure Arsenal are never going to pay in a million years – the consequences to our existing wage structure would be catastrophic.

Our first option is to basically keep Sanchez, hope he keeps performing at his usual high level and use him to try and win the Premier League – selling him for nothing at the end of the season.

And the other is to sell him for £30-40 million (no club will offer the reported £50 million for a player with 1 year left on his contract) and re-invest that money into buying another player, such as Thomas Lemar from Monaco.

The thing is, for all his mood swings and negative demeanour on the pitch, he is our best player, someone who can win games on his own. Arsenal fans forgive his hissy fits because he is truly world class. You may laugh, but he is a player we are lucky to have at Arsenal and in the Premier League, only a handful of players come close to his level. Don’t make any mistake; if we lost him we’d suffer.

So is it worth strengthening our rivals? Manchester City want him and Chelsea, who lost out on Lukaku this summer, need a forward. Selling to either one of those clubs automatically makes them much stronger and solves a problem they have. Keeping Sanchez however gives them problems that help us in the long run.

But with Arsenal, it will probably come down to the maths.

Why We Should Sell Alexis Sanchez:

Selling him is probably Arsenal’s first preference considering the big lump sum we would get. Arsenal would argue that the fee received could go towards another player to strengthen the side and added to that, we would get rid of a “negative influence” from the squad.

And why would we want to keep a player who doesn’t want to play for us?

Why We Should Keep Alexis Sanchez:

We have one of the best players in the world at the club, and are paying them £130,000 per week – when players of similar stature are demanding well in excess of that.

Alexis Sanchez is apparently not the kind of player to sulk and would still give 110% week in, week out for the team, which would help us go as far as we can in the Premier League.

Arsenal paid £35 million for Alexis in 2014, have had 3 productive seasons from him and would get one more. £35 million for a player of his calibre, for 4 seasons, could be considered a bargain looking at the transfer market as it is today.

So what if we have to release him next summer for free? We’ve had one of the best talents the Premier League has seen for 4 seasons and paid the same amount that Liverpool did for Andy Carroll for Christ’s sake!

Vote & Comment:

Anyway, place your vote below and also leave a comment about your thoughts on the Alexis Sanchez situation – and I will replying to any comments!

Would You Be Happy Signing Lacazette If That Meant Sanchez Was Leaving?

I seemed to have upset a lot of Arsenal fans earlier today when I suggested that Alexandre Lacazette was a massive downgrade from Alexis Sanchez. The fact of the matter is, Alexis Sanchez came from Barcelona, having already won trophies, proving himself as a world class talent in both Spain and Italy – whereas Alexandre Lacazette has done well in the French League and is the national teams understudy to Oliver Giroud.

So how some fans are getting all upset about saying Alexis Sanchez is better than Alexandre Lacazette is beyond me!

But let me ask you this question – if signing Alexandre Lacazette meant Alexis Sanchez was leaving Arsenal would you be happy?

Exactly.

I rest my case.

Make No Mistake, Alexandre Lacazette Is A Huge Downgrade On Alexis Sanchez

With the signing of Alexandre Lacazette imminent, Arsenal will complete their second signing of the summer, after bringing in Sead Kolasinac from Schalke.

And the reported fee of around £52 million will mean we have smashed our transfer record by some margin, eclipsing the fee paid to Real Madrid for Mesut Özil in the summer of 2013.

But is this guy any good?

Well from what I’ve seen, he scores a lot of penalties. And he’s quite quick – not Thierry Henry or Theo Walcott quick, but not as slow as Olivier Giroud.

He’s scored a lot of goals in Ligue 1 but so had Giroud. I’m a bit conflicted about his signing and if every Arsenal fan was honest with themselves, they know in their hearts that Alexis Sanchez is the far better player – and unfortunately signing Lacazette will mean the departure of Sanchez.

It’s clear that with Alexandre Lacazette is a replacement for Alexis Sanchez. Manchester City are reportedly willing to pay £50 million for the Chilean, co-incidently a similar fee that we’re going to pay for Lacazette.

Alexandre Lacazette’s scoring record is good but in comparison to Alexis Sanchez’s 30 goals and 13 assists for Arsenal last season, they are inferior. Of course, football isn’t all about statistics but for all of Arsenal’s talk of winning the Premier League title then this signing is significantly below our expectations.

I don’t doubt that Alexandre Lacazette is a decent player. But after all the drama with Arsene Wenger’s contract situation, the abuse aimed at the Arsenal manager, then the club talking about pushing on next season and wanting to win the Premier League – it’s clear they need to sign world class players who are ready to help the club reach that next level.

Will Kolasinac and Lacazette do this? I highly doubt it.