Arsenal are on a scintillating run of form having won their last six Premier League matches and stand undefeated in 11 games since losing on the opening day of the season, with a number of the players within their squad playing tremendous football.
Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez and Theo Walcott have all been formidable thus far and dominated in Tuesday night’s 6-0 thrashing of Bulgarian champions Ludogorets Razgrad, with the trio each continuing their fine runs of form in the high-scoring affair.
Following the result, former Gunners defender Martin Keown wrote in his column for The Daily Mail that he believes the form of the leading trio can be attributed to the continued absence of Olivier Giroud, who has been struggling with injury problems in recent weeks:
“I think Theo has suffered for some time because Arsenal haven’t had a centre forward who can make runs in behind the defence,”
“Olivier Giroud certainly has his merits, but the build-up play is slow when he plays up front. He’s not going to beat a man like Sanchez does, so the wide men have to run from deep to get around the opposition.”
“It’s hard work and is also less likely to pay dividends than having your centre forward running in behind to stretch the play. The way they are playing this season gives Theo little time to think and forces him to play with instinct. With Sanchez and Ozil both bombing forward around him, it allows him to join in and do what he does best.”
“It’s like he’s flicked a switch in his head this season – he’s not going to be patient anymore and allow Wenger to bring him in and out of the team. Now he is making his mark.”
Keown’s comments are supported by the Gunners’ form this season. Giroud was uninspiring in one of his few appearances as he earned a red card off the bench in the draw with Paris Saint-Germain and it’s long seemed like the French international does not fit into Arsenal’s tactics.
Summer signing Lucas Perez looks to be a better option for Wenger’s set-up as the Spaniard can also play out wide, and his Champions League debut on Tuesday evening was positive – the former Deportivo La Coruna forward laid two assists on a plate for Ozil to take home the match ball.