Arsenal: Analysing How Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud Will Work Together
There are obvious doubts about Robin van Persie's future in North London, and when a player decides his heart's not in it, their performance levels drop.
This article looks at how Arsene Wenger's two new offensive signings will fare, and how Arsenal can line up to suit both their strengths. This article will also assume van Persie moves onto pastures new in an attempt to see what Arsenal have at their disposal should their talisman leave.
It's important not to become disenchanted with this signing on the back of a poor Euro 2012 showing from the Polish-born attacker.
Last season was fantastic for him statistically, bagging 14 goals and four assists from 19 appearances in a central striking position. He was only utilised four times as a left-winger, so it is arguable his poor performances on the left for Germany this summer can be put down to rustiness.
You can expect him to be used on the left for Arsenal, too, so with preseason practice in that role, he'll be flying in time for the season.
Arsenal would never have been so overreliant on Robin van Persie last season if Gervinho wasn't such a poor finisher. He did all the good work, but fluffed his lines at the last chance far too often. Podolski is Gervinho with a good shot and bit more composure.
Comparing Giroud to Marouane Chamakh is lazy, as Giroud bagged a lot of decent goals with his feet last season for Montpellier, while Chamakh made his name powering headers past poor Ligue 1 defences.
He has a strikers' instinct, a good left foot and takes a set piece—reminding you of anyone yet?
Interestingly, Laurent Blanc used Giroud exclusively as an impact player, preferring to start Karim Benzema almost every time.
Benzema fulfilled his role in a possession-based 4-2-3-1 well for Blanc, but as we've seen in the past, that style of play can often lead to an Arsenal-esque blockage on the edge of the opponent's penalty box.
Giroud would then be introduced when things were tight and no space could be found, for example in France's warm-up game against Iceland.
His introduction changed the game completely, as he opted to force the issue and immerse himself into Iceland's defensive line. Not only did this force them even deeper, but it allowed France to play some direct balls into the box—an option Arsenal often lack but could really do with.
Style of play
Expect the same formation and methodology, but with a slight twist in how Arsenal attack when they are on top.
The "bottleneck" is something world football fans are all too familiar with after watching the Gunners tip-toe around the opposition's penalty box showing no penetration.
Both Giroud and Podolski are direct customers, representing a real handful in and around the box. There'll be no tip-toeing with these two around and they'll help Arsenal force the issue next season.
The diagram depicts Arsenal in attacking flow, showing the regular position of van Persie and Olivier Giroud.
While van Persie is undoubtedly a class act, his typical positioning contributed to Arsenal's struggles in breaking down a stern defence. He lingers on the edge of the box or just outside it, resulting in zero penetration.
Giroud, however, will be happy to jump in and cause the defenders an issue. His presence will drive opposing defences five yards further back than they currently are when defending against Arsenal.
This should open things out for Podolski and the others, too, stopping teams from becoming so compact when defending against Arsenal. Giroud's penetrative presence would open avenues for Podolski to get into the box and do damage.
Should Giroud hit form, he could single-handedly revolutionise Arsenal's attack.
Although you'd never say no to van Persie in attack, he does contribute toward the Gunners' well-documented issues when breaking teams down.
It'd be tough to play them both in the same team—think van Persie and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar for Netherlands—but both would be able to function alongside Podolski.
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