With a Robin van Persie-inspired performance handing Manchester United their 20th league title, their archrivals, Manchester City, will have to settle for second place and will be odds-on to do some business this summer with their petro-greens.
While the city of Manchester can brag about having the best two teams in the land, the city of London is currently in an intense battle as Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham are fighting hard for the remaining coveted Champions League spots.
While Chelsea and Tottenham have grueling fixtures ahead including the game in hand against each other, Arsenal has four more fixtures against the champions, Manchester United, relegation-threatened Queens Park Rangers and Wigan and a Newcastle side not still assured of their Premier League status.
While a draw against Manchester United seems like the most possible outcome, the Gunners will be assured of a place in next season’s Champions League if they can record consecutive wins over QPR, Wigan and Newcastle, as either Chelsea or Tottenham will have to drop points when they play against each other.
However, the Gunners will go into the next three games without the services of Olivier Giroud, after the appeal from his club was rejected following his dismissal at Craven Cottage. The FA has released an official statement (via the FA.com) on this matter:
Following an Independent Regulatory Commission hearing today, Arsenal’s Olivier Giroud has had his claim for wrongful dismissal rejected.
Giroud was dismissed for serious foul play during his side’s game against Fulham at Craven Cottage on Saturday 20 April 2013.
The player’s three-match suspension will therefore commence with immediate effect.
In his debut campaign at Arsenal, the French forward has enjoyed a somewhat decent season that has seen him score in purple patches as well as going through spells of goal droughts.
Despite the fact that Giroud is Arsenal’s second highest goalscorer behind Theo Walcott (who’s also on a drought) with 17 goals, many Arsenal fans won’t be quick to forget his glaring misses as the campaign progressed: the blatant miss in his debut against Sunderland, that spurned chance in the dying moments against Chelsea at home and, more recently, the sitter against Everton last week.
With Giroud out of the side for three games before a potential return in the final game of the campaign against Newcastle, Arsene Wenger will have to assign another player with the task of coming up with the goods while Monsieur Giroud gets some rest.
Prior to his red card against Fulham, Giroud had notched up 46 appearances for the club, and he could do with a breather to recharge his batteries, even if it’s forced by suspension.
Without further ado, here are the likeliest of attacking alternatives to be selected by Arsene Wenger for the games against Manchester United, QPR and Wigan in Giroud’s absence.