Olivier Giroud has shown a keen eye in front of goal, proving to Arsenal skeptics that Arsene still knows a striking talent from Ligue Un; albeit outside of Park Chu-Young.
The former Montpellier man has shown intelligent running and a willingness to drive to the near post (where most of Arsenal’s poor crossing ends up).
This will prove extremely valuable to the North London side in this year’s title challenge – yes, a thought not worth consideration until the addition of Mesut Ozil. However, Olivier seems destined for a slight improvement on his 17 goal Premier League tally from his first season in England.
Arsenal’s leading goal scorer from last season, Theo Walcott, netted 21 times – expect that number to increase 50% or more. Why?
1. Crowding of midfield – As teams press a higher line to condense the tight passing lanes that Arsenal’s attacking midfielders enjoy – Walcott (and to an extent, Oxlade-Chamberlain) will be viewed as release valves.
2. Chances – The former Southampton striker may not be as ruthless as Giroud in front of goal but the number of chances he will be given due to this midfield compression will make Emmanuel Adebayor’s 30 goals during the 2007-08 look inefficient.
3. Mesut Ozil – Mourinho’s ‘best no. 10’ adds a new range of passing to the attacking dimension in Wenger’s side – see goals for Cristiano, Di Maria, etc
4. Cazorla, Ramsey, Wilshere, Rosicky – A resurgent Ramsey, an additional year with two-footed genius Santi and healthy versions of Jack and Tomas should lead to an improved year for the Englishman.