Arsenal’s 2-0 defeat of Stoke City on Saturday afternoon saw both Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud on the scoresheet.
Both forwards have been criticised for their abilities, and the goals should do them the world of good as Arsenal’s season really gets going over the course of the next month.
Walcott’s first-half opener was his first goal of the season, while Giroud came off the bench to head home his second goal of the new campaign. Having two very different options can only be a good thing for Arsène Wenger, and both should receive a boost after scoring.
“It helps,” the Arsenal boss admitted after the game. “I think at the moment we play every three days for four weeks. I will have to rotate the strikers without robbing their confidence.”
Midweek saw Giroud start for France, whereas Walcott sat on the bench for England. Now a trip to Dynamo Zagreb is looming before the Gunners face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge next weekend.
“You cannot always play with the same player every three days especially up front,” said Wenger.
So why was Walcott chosen ahead of Giroud for the Stoke match?
“To use the movement of Walcott. I know Stoke are a compact, organised team in their own half and Theo could find little pockets to get in there and maybe that you get two or three chances to counter attack at home so maybe you can use that,” explained the Arsenal manager.
That plan can’t be faulted as Walcott had a number of chances. His pace allowed Arsenal to take full advantage of Stoke’s high-line for the first goal, with Mesut Özil’s beautifully lofted pass sending Walcott through on goal.
Other chances came and went but encouragement comes from him getting into good positions, even if Walcott’s finishing wasn’t as sharp as Wenger would have hoped.
“He has chances. He can be a prolific goalscorer,” the Frenchman insisted. “When you come out of the game and look at the amount of chances he scored. The bigger the belief he has to score the more he will score. But he gets in good situations.
“He scored a great goal because you needed technical quality to score and timing in the finish. It is good Giroud came on scored as well.”
After a summer of speculation led to nothing and was swiftly followed by the news that Danny Welbeck will be out for months, Wenger will be delighted that both Walcott and Giroud managed to get on the scoresheet on Saturday. Hopefully there are plenty more goals to come, as the Arsenal boss is hoping for both players to reach 20 goals by May.