As pointed out on numerous occasions already this term, if there’s one department where the Gunners decisively fall short in comparison to their title rivals it’s undoubtedly the strike force.
And that’s no swipe at Olivier Giroud – the Frenchman has claimed ten goals already this season, which is one less than Chelsea’s entire forward cast combined and only one short of his Premier League total last year. He’s currently the club’s top scorer.
Furthermore, despite his many critics, the 27 year-old is a vital cog in the Arsenal attack, acting as a pillar for their prolific midfield to work from. This crucial service is represented best by his six assists this term, and an average of 1.1 key passes per match.
But as we’ve witnessed in recent weeks, Giroud has been disturbingly over-worked already this season as the club’s only dependable front-man. He’s started 24 of 26 league matches and has only been subbed off on seven occasions, with just one benching coming before the 70 minute mark.
The France international lacked freshness against Manchester United on Wednesday night, and that trend will probably continue as the North Londoners enter their trickiest fixture run of the campaign throughout February and March.
The issue is one of understudies; Nicklas Bendtner’s quality, or rather lack of quality, is well known and widely documented. There’s also something almost sinister about relying upon a striker who the Gunners have been trying to get off the wage bill for the last three years, following the Danish international claiming in 2011 that he’d never play for the club again.
After that you have Yaya Sanogo, Arsene Wenger’s press conference trump card if anyone dares to ask him about signing a new striker. But how much bearing can a 21 year-old bosman signing from Ligue 2 actually have on Arsenal’s title hopes?
And then there’s the option of putting Lukas Podolski up front. That’s like putting a square peg in a round hole, and despite the German international’s impeccable finishing, he won’t be able to hold up play and bring others into the game like Giroud.
Wenger has stated a potential back up option is fielding Mesut Ozil up front, which only further highlights how a lengthy injury to Olivier Giroud will see Arsenal’s squad depth collapse like a house of cards.