Olivier Giroud’s injury is ostensibly a significant blow to Arsenal’s title challenge. The Frenchman was the Gunners’ top scorer last season, and he began the season as Arsene Wenger’s No. 1 striker. Now, Arsenal.com has confirmed that he will be out until Christmas:
Olivier Giroud has undergone successful surgery to repair a small fracture to his left tibia.
Scans following Saturday’s match at Everton confirmed the injury and after specialist opinions in the following days, the decision was taken to have surgery in London on Wednesday afternoon.
Olivier is expected to return to action in approximately four months.
Giroud’s absence leaves the Arsenal squad with Yaya Sanogo as its only conventional No. 9. Considering that Sanogo has yet to score a competitive goal in an Arsenal shirt, that’s a slightly distressing thought.
However, there’s no need for despair. It’s possible to put a positive spin on all events. In some respects, Giroud’s injury could prove a blessing in digsuise. In this piece, we hunt for three positives that could come out of the Frenchman’s ill fortune.
1. Tactical Flexibility
For the past two seasons, Arsenal have played almost exclusively with Giroud as their sole centre-forward. While he has performed well in the role, his game does have its limitations. Giroud lacks the pace to run in behind the defence, which can make Arsenal’s attack pedestrian and predictable. He’s also not the ideal striker to play ahead of Mesut Ozil, who would prefer a speedier forward to chase on to his perspicacious through balls.
Being without Giroud will force Arsenal to adapt to a new style of play. It may end up being more suitable than playing with a traditional target man. Regardless, when Giroud does return, they will have different strategic options to call upon.
2. Alexis Sanchez's Development
Against Besiktas, Arsene Wenger opted to play Alexis Sanchez as a central striker. The experiment seemed relatively successful: Not only did Sanchez score the crucial winning goal, but he also battled manfully throughout the 90 minutes.
Arsene Wenger signed Alexis to play as a centre-forward. However, he probably did not anticipate doing so quite so early on in the Chilean’s Arsenal career. Ideally, Wenger would have liked to bed him in on the flank before switching him to the middle. Giroud’s injury has forced Wenger to accelerate that evolution. If Sanchez continues to perform as he did against Besiktas, that’s no bad thing.
3. Possible transfer market activity
Even prior to Giroud’s injury, most Arsenal fans were open to the prospect of another striker arriving. Yaya Sanogo has already been called upon to start this season, and the general feeling is that a striker so raw shouldn’t be quite so high up the pecking order.
With Giroud now ruled out for effectively half a season, Arsene Wenger may be forced to consider dipping in to the market to provide more depth. After the Besiktas game, the Gunners boss insisted to Arsenal.com that buying was not always the solution:
If you want to make everyone happy, you just always buy players. But what is important is the performance on the football pitch and the solidarity we have shown tonight. Having said that, if you look at the players we have on the bench and those who are injured, we have players. I believe you cannot every time buy when a player is injured.
Wenger is right: There’s no point buying for buying’s sake. However, if he can find someone who makes a genuine improvement to the squad, he will do it. Giroud’s injury has given Wenger a timely reminder of the importance of squad depth and an injection of urgency in the final few days of the window.