Should Olivier Giroud be given the nod against PSG instead of Alexis Sanchez?
I think so.
Now, I realise that the striker has only started once this season (Ludogorets away) and therefore throwing him into the mix against PSG at home might seem like a bit of a gamble but I don’t think it is.
Statistically, Oli scores a goal every 62.5 minutes, which is huge. And while many will quite rightfully argue that this is because he’s far better as a supersub, after he’s had time to assess the game and has something prove, a start against PSG could be exactly what he needs to turn him into more than this.
Although I’m not suggesting that we bow to every whim players have, Giroud is clearly unhappy with the lack of starts he’s been getting this season. After he scored the equaliser at the weekend against the Red Devils, he didn’t look pleased, he looked dejected. As if he knew that no matter how often he scores, he won’t get a start. What better way to prove his value to the club then against PSG?
It also shows other players that if you work hard enough, you will be rewarded, giving them an incentive to really go for it when they are subbed on. That’s what we need: hungry players.
Arsenal have already progressed to the final 16 of the Champions League and although we do want that top spot and a win over the French champions would be lovely, I don’t see anything wrong with throwing a fit Giroud out there and seeing what he can do.
If it doesn’t work out, we’ll have Alexis ready to stand in, just as Oli did for him against Manchester United.
This leads me on to another point: Alexis’ fitness.
Now, I know that Wenger says he’s now fully fit but I feel like we’re walking a tightrope here with the Chilean’s muscles. It’s getting colder and if he picked up a low-grade muscular injury in the warmth of his own country while on international duty, there’s every chance it could be made worse in the cold London night air.
I’m by no means an expert but I’m sure it wouldn’t do any harm to stick Alexis on the bench for a week so he can heal properly.
Another reason starting Giroud could be beneficial is because it mixes up our tactics a little bit. He’s a great target man and goodness knows a few of our players need target practice, as well as a little help with their crossing. It gives them a chance to exercise that part of their game rather than just watch Alexis pick the ball up from deep and dash off with it.
Ultimately, many will believe that we should always start Alexis, especially if he’s fit, and the Chilean would probably agree, but I feel it’s time we gave the big guy a chance in a proper game that means something without it being do or die.
It’ll give us another option, bring other players into the mix and give Alexis a well-earned rest, whether he likes it or not.
As it stands, Wenger says he hasn’t decided whether he’ll pick Giroud or Alexis (or both). I feel like the side needs someone fresh stuck in there since we’ve appeared a little stale as of late and with a point to prove, Oli could be the perfect man for the job.
I just fear that if we don’t start respecting the striker’s need to play more often, we’ll end up losing a pretty capable player who has done a lot of good for the club since signing.