Despite protesting his innocence over his red card at the end of Arsenal’s Champions League opener at Paris St-Germain, Olivier Giroud fell foul to his own frustration as much as Marco Verratti’s unedifying antics.
Having picked up a second yellow in the dying embers at the Parc des Princes, Giroud will now be unavailable for the Gunners’ first home assignment in Group A against Basel.
Unfortunately for the Frenchman, who has been overlooked by Arsene Wenger at the start of the season, that encounter against the Swiss may well have given him the perfect platform from which to prove his worth once more, having made a positive impact off the bench at PSG.
Giroud not getting a fair crack of the whip
As it is, there’s a chance that Wenger may wish to punish Giroud further for his unnecessary second booking in Europe, by omitting the centre-forward for the next game at Hull.
That would make it four straight Premier League games in which the France international has been ignored as a starter, since being available for selection again post-Euros.
There’s a school of thought that says this would be folly from his manager. Alexis Sanchez has shown an ability to adapt to a central role with the Chilean scoring once in the league from his four starts, before adding a second in Europe.
Sanchez better off on the flanks
However, it’s clear Sanchez is not at his damaging best with his back to goal and dropping in too deep as he so often was against PSG. Linking the play is paramount to the position, something Giroud is the most adept at in the squad.
Sanchez may have been in the right place at the right time to fire in Alex Iwobi’s rebound in Paris, but his first and most effective season as a Gunner so far saw his time split between the flanks, predominantly cutting in off the left.
Walcott injury might make things easier
Bizarrely, Theo Walcott has openly elected himself to be a winger once more, but has now picked up a ‘mild’ knee injury so that could free up space in a wider role for Arsenal’s diminutive wizard against the Tigers.
New signing Lucas Perez is another option, but the Spaniard could probably benefit from actual centre-forward cameos to get used to English football, rather than being forced to hang out wide as he did on debut before his removal on the hour against Southampton.
Giroud’s record stands up
Giroud is crying out to be played. He may not be the world beater that Arsenal fans understandably crave to lead the line, yet he has averaged 15 league goals per season over the last three and no teammate can match that (Sanchez averages 14.5 in the top flight).
It is no use letting the 29-year-old brood any longer. Wenger needs to restore the big man’s confidence and grant him a Premier League start.
As his six goals for club and country last October can attest, he’s a striker that often scores in sprees. Giroud cannot do that from the bench.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.