Charlie Nicholas has urged Arsene Wenger to start Theo Walcott over Olivier Giroud against Stoke on Saturday due to the latter’s bad form.

In an argument that appears to be growing further and further out of proportion, the former Gunner has chimed in saying that although Giroud needs to respond to criticism, he should be benched.

“Giroud hasn’t been in good form and that’s why I’d pick Walcott ahead of him against Stoke,” Nicholas said.

“Giroud’s movement has been pretty static. When he’s on form you see him getting in behind people, taking shots early but I don’t see him doing any of that so far this season. He looks easy to mark and is very predictable.”

The former Gunner continued, “He has struggled a bit with the criticism that has come his way but it’s up to him to prove the doubters wrong.

“I would leave him on the bench and simply say to him: ‘it’s up to you to respond well to this criticism’.

“Arsenal will make chances for him it’s up to him to take his chance.”

On the face of it, I would usually agree that Walcott should get a chance to start. However, people are still talking about the winger as if he’s an out-and-out striker when, the truth of the matter is he’s not been too sharp up front. Not consistently at least. The wing is where he’s most lethal. Throwing him up front isn’t going to automatically lead to goals.

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“Giroud was never going to be the player who is going to win you the title but he’s one of the players who could help you win it,” said Nicholas.

“This season I still expect Giroud to score 15 to 20 league goals. If Walcott stays fit I’d expect him to score 15-20 league goals, too. Combine both of them with Sanchez and others then Arsenal should do ok.

“But Giroud has to work on his sharpness and the movement in his game and if he doesn’t get that back people will be constantly be on his back because of his style.

“He’s just out of form. I’m not sure if it’s the criticism he’s had or not but he has to man up and get on with it.”

Giroud’s going to have a hard time responding the criticism if he’s sitting on the bench. The Frenchman has shown in the past that his confidence, or lack there of, directly affects his ability in front of goal. In my opinion, Giroud should be given a chance and if he’s still lacking, then look at rotation.