Arsenal striker’s slide unfathomable considering alternatives

Like so many players in Arsenal’s squad, Olivier Giroud is a divisive figure. To his detractors he is far from the calibre of striker the Gunners need to mount a serious title challenge. But his supporters see him as a value-for-money signing, a striker that cost less than £10m four summers ago and has 43 Premier League strikes in 102 games.

That record can be used as evidence for either the prosecution or defence. No title-winning line-leader operates on a strike rate worse than a goal-every-other-game, yet if Arsene Wenger would just splash the cash on a superstar striker, Giroud’s impact off the bench would be vital.

Although such a headline-making signing never arrived in the summer, as usual, the Frenchman still finds himself relegated to mere squad-player status thanks to Wenger’s decision to use Theo Walcott through the middle.

The pair have both started four games each in the north Londoners’ eight so far this season, including the Community Shield, and both have two goals to their name.

Walcott has found himself a role as a central striker this season

In case the unsettled state of Arsenal’s frontline wasn’t clear from those numbers, Arsene Wenger confirmed, perhaps unintentionally, that he has no idea who his first-choice striker is in the lead up to his side’s Capital One Cup tie with Tottenham.

“With Olivier Giroud, it is a competition with Walcott. When one plays people always ask, ‘Why did you not play the other one? When you have two top-level strikers, some games Giroud plays and some games Walcott plays,” the manager said.

In a nutshell, that statement is the exact reason why the Emirates outfit won’t be a threat to Ladbrokes in the Premier League winners’ market this season, at a price of 11/2.

Not only has Wenger relegated his one-time automatic-choice striker into a rotation policy, but he believes Walcott is “top level” in the same position!

Having missed out on a start against Chelsea last time out, Giroud is expected to line up against Spurs at White Hart Lane and is 5/1 favourite to grab the game’s first goal.

If he wants to reclaim his spot as undisputed first choice striker, he’ll need goals in these kind of tin-pot outings. There was once a time when he used to sit them out so that Wenger could appease the benchwarmers. How things have changed.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.