Despite Arsenal’s 3-1 victory over Olympiakos on Wednesday evening, the Gunners showed they had areas to improve on. Jenny Leigh was in the press zone after the game and grabbed a word with Mikel Arteta.
Olivier Giroud has been the subject of criticism since his move to the Emirates this summer. He ‘broke his duck’ against Coventry City in the Gunners’ 6-1 Capital One Cup victory but has since failed to take some ‘sitting’ chances.
He missed what could have been a vital equalizer late on in the game last weekend against title rivals Chelsea, after coming on as a substitute and missed another chance in Wednesday night’s Champion’s League fixture against Olympiakos.
Teammate Mikel Arteta was quick to dismiss concerns over his form. He told me, “That will come. I think his movement, as you say, is really good. He’s been having some chances and been unlucky as well.”
Whilst Francis Coquelin had concerns over his team’s defensive errors that cost them dear last weekend. I asked him if Wednesday’s Champion’s League victory atoned for their demoralizing defeat against the Blues. He said:
“Obviously everyone is disappointed by that result. I think we deserved more than that and we conceded two cheap goals. But it was an important game tonight and we won it so obviously now we move on to the West Ham game.”
Since the departure of Robin van Persie, the Gunners have found goals from all of their summer signings. Lukas Podolski and Santi Cazorla have scored 5 goals between them.
But Giroud has yet to find his previous form – he was for Montpellier last season’s top goal-scorer in the French Ligue 1.
But Arteta remained hopeful. He told me, “He needs some confidence but hopefully he will score soon.”
Perhaps this weekend’s Premier League fixture against West Ham will provide that opportunity for the Frenchman but he will have further concerns over his ability to compete for a place up front on Arsenal’s team sheet.
Gervinho has already surpassed his goal tally from the whole of last season and, as a converted winger, is Arsenal’s top goal-scorer so far with 5 goals. But, despite his impressive record, the Ivorian still squanders more chances than he puts away.
His ability to run at defenders and find himself space to shoot bodes well for Gunners but he is as likely to dribble himself in to isolation where he less dangerous. Subsequently, he’s not yet the dangerous presence in the box his goal tally would suggest.
Lukas Podolski is a clinical finisher, without any shadow of a doubt but his position on the left flank for Arsenal means he finds fewer opportunities to come inside, compounded by his defensive responsibilities, protecting left-back Kieran Gibbs who also likes to get forward.
I wouldn’t be surprised if, as the season progresses, the German is moved centrally where he might prove to be more effective.
image: © Ronnie Macdonald