Sunday, December 10, 2023

Boo for Giroud, Chambers out on loan, Walcott confusion

Morning all.

It must be tough being Olivier Giroud. Handsome, extremely well paid, very good at football but not quite ‘World Class’ Olivier Giroud. Only the 24 goals last season for the club’s leading scorer, yet people forget the goals and the deft assists and label him the worst Arsenal striker they’ve ever seen.

I get how he frustrates people, and it seems a bit of a shame that every time you have to say something about him you have to qualify it by saying you’re keen for us to sign an upgrade, but he’s very far from the worst striker we’ve ever had. I could list 10 right now off the top of my head, and another 10 if I sat down and really thought about it, but he just seems like one of those fellas whose burden for having such wonderful hair is to be the brunt of criticism.

And of course there are things to criticise him for. He’s not Pele, for a start, the absolute bastard. And he can be a bit erratic in front of goal but generally he’s a good player. Not good enough for some French fans though, as they booed him as he got off the team bus ahead of their friendly against Cameroon last night.

“Boooo,” said one.

“Boooooo,” said another.

“You are not Benzema!” said a different man who prefers his strikers to be a bit more blackmaily of his teammates.

Anyway, Giroud’s name was reportedly whistled when the team was announced, then he scored a very nice goal after a sumptuous pass from Pogba, and people cheered rather than jeered. Which doesn’t at all highlight the fickle nature of football fans.

But then he missed a chance and they booed him some more and when he was taken off in the second half there were more whistles. Given that he appears to be their first choice striker for the upcoming European Championships, taking place at home of course, it seems a little harsh. Especially when you consider that despite the fact they’ve had no competitive games or qualifiers for this tournament Giroud’s scoring record for the national side has been good.

He scored twice against Denmark in October, scored the opener in a 2-0 win over Germany in November, and got one in a 3-2 win over Holland in March. He’s had a difficult time in the second half of the season, of course. That whole not scoring for ages thing doesn’t do him any favours, but the amount of stick he gets seems disproportionate to his actual ability.

Maybe it’s a body language thing, the fact he can get bullied out of games when a bloke of his physique should be doing the bullying. The finger waggle of mild discomfort. The fact when he doesn’t play well he looks like a baby fawn running for the first time …wearing 12 hole Doc Martens. The fact that he comes across as a quite nice, fairly sensitive bloke – all those things probably contribute to him being targeted like that.

Ah well, I’m sure he’ll cope. What with his whole having a rather brilliant life and that, and maybe his response will be to try and prove those critics wrong. It’s also worth having a watch of all the goals we scored last season and, for all his faults, seeing how many Giroud was involved in.

Elsewhere it seems as if we’re willing to let Calum Chambers go out on loan next season. The 21 year old really struggled to get any meaningful playing time last season, despite the fact that when he did play he acquitted himself pretty well overall. He’s linked with a move back to Southampton, and with talk of us signing the chap from Napoli and definite interest in Bolton’s Rob Holding, it seems as his chances of playing next season are even more remote.

It’s a bit of a shame, because he began his Arsenal career in such style. Impressing in pre-season, having a great game in the Community Shield, and doing well at both centre-half and right back. He hit something of a wall then, that away day at Swansea proved very challenging and you might wonder if he’s ever managed to fully come back from that.

I like him, I have to say. I think there’s still potentially a good player in there but unless he plays regularly it’s hard to see how that’s going to emerge. You also worry that a loan spell might be a bit of a Jenkinson situation where clearly the manager has made his mind up he’s not quite good enough. Yet we’ve seen in Coquelin how players on the very fringes can come back and surprise us, so you can never say never.

Meanwhile, Thierry Henry says that Theo Walcott doesn’t know his best position. This may well be true, but I think the bigger issue is that Arsene Wenger doesn’t either. He doesn’t trust him as a wide player and is reluctant to use him as a striker. Quite what that means for his future remains to be seen, but it’s hard to think it’s going to be positive.

Finally, if you haven’t had a chance to listen to yesterday’s Arsecast Extra, James and I touch on the Champions League final, pick an alphabet Arsenal squad that has had people up in arms until they keep listening, chat transfers, shirt numbers and lots more.

Check it out on site here, via Acast, or please subscribe on iTunes and give us a rating/review. It helps the world become a better place.

Right, we’ll have all the news throughout the day on Arseblog News, more from me here tomorrow.

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