By A Cultured Left Foot
The international week seems to be getting better for Arsène. Players who are struggling for goals domestically, have found the net for their countries whilst his ‘regular’ goalscorers – Alexis and Theo Walcott – are keeping their goalscoring rhythm going.
Having seen Santi Cazorla hit a brace for Spain against Luxembourg, Wenger has the joy of Olivier Giroud repeating the feat in France’s 2 – 1 friendly win over Denmark.
It capped off a bad night for the Danes with Albania taking their place at next year’s European Championships, relegating the days to what looks to be a fairly evenly-matched play-offs.
The pair of goals will be welcomed by player and his manager. He has been out of sorts this season, even before he was demoted to second-choice striker, a decision reinforced by Theo Walcott’s performances.
Getting a twenty-minute runout each week is probably not how the Frenchman envisaged his season going although with the talk throughout the summer of a new striker incoming, it’s better than it might have been.
Two goals in the opening six minutes was as he put it, “good for confidence”, before someone ran his quote through Google Translate and found what seems to be a moment of searing honesty or masterful understatement, maybe both,”Efficiency had been evading me for a while.”
There’s no argument that Walcott merits his place in the side at the moment. His play reflects higher confidence levels and goalscoring is not that much of an issue. That will change at some point; all strikers enjoy a good run and endure a barren spell.
How they deal with the latter is key; Giroud has worn his heart on his sleeve, with frustration at the root of his dismissal in Zagreb. He let his colleagues down and Arsène, with other options, has been ruthless in demoting his compatriot.
Giroud knows his current role is understudy, one he is not familiar with but to which he has had to adjust.
“I was in [Walcott’s] place in previous seasons at Arsenal,” said Olivier Giroud. “I imagine what he must have been thinking.
“But I feel that the coach believes in me. It has been for several matches now that I have played less, that is for sure, but I do not need to be worried. I need a bit more game time but also to believe more in my abilities.”
It’s a bit chicken and egg, and out of his control. Walcott is in good form and until that changes, Giroud isn’t going to be first choice. He might for odd games, the trip to Hillsborough springs immediately to mind, but it’s hard to see Wenger changing his line-up to accommodate Giroud beyond a twenty to thirty minute cameo each week. In his own words, he needs more “game time” which he isn’t necessarily going to get.