Connect in the back of the net

Everything is wrong at Arsenal. The defenders are often leaking in goals they would not do on a perfect day. Crosses are almost always unsuccessful. Corner kicks hardly create any problem for the opposition defence. Substitutions do not seem right.

Emirates Stadium is more silent than a library. Strikers are not finding the net as often as they are expected to. To think they were not just in the title picture but were atop the Premier League table not so long ago.

Olivier Giroud bagged a brace against Liverpool on January 13 as the Gunners eked out an away draw; however, he has not scored since. Interestingly, Arsenal were atop the Premier League table, level on points with soon-to-be champions Leicester City after the Anfield draw.


Giroud’s regression

He has now gone 587 league minutes without a goal, and his dip has coincided with Arsenal’s slump that has seen them drop to the fourth spot.

“If the team does well, it is down to him and, if on top of that he scores 20 or more goals, he has done his job,” told Arsene Wenger after Thierry Henry had claimed that Arsenal would never lift the English title with his compatriot leading the lineup. The manager clearly believes that he brings more than goals to the plate as he has hinted that the whole team’s success is down to the striker’s performances.

During his most prolific period, the Arsenal manager was deploying the right-footed Theo Walcott on the left and the left-footed Joel Campbell on the right. Even though the move drew a lot of criticism from pundits and fans alike, it was a tactical masterclass as the target man in Olivier Giroud created enough space for the wingers, who often cut inside, to have a crack at the goal from distance.

In addition, that system also made the former Montpellier marksman more lethal header of the ball as only a few footballers can guide the ball into the net as he does from curling crosses.


Cazorla’s absence

Santi Cazorla’s absence has been cited as the reason for much of Arsenal’s failures this season. Arsenal excelled with the Spaniard in the midfield and preserved Arsenal’s title contenders status even in his absence though goals never came from the inverted wingers.

However, with Alexis Sanchez returning to action, the manager was forced to ditch the system to accommodate him in the starting lineup, and it only went downhill from there.

Since his return, Arsenal have played 13 games, averaging a measly 1.38 points per game; they sit eleventh in the league table if only those 13 games are taken into consideration.


System tweak

With Alexis’ return disrupting the harmony, they have been floundering, but he is a fantastic player, who could change the trajectory of the game in a moment. Le Professeur has once again tweaked his system to better suit the Chilean’s style as a highly defensive double pivot and a versatile Alex Iwobi has been incorporated into the system.

The new system does produce the kind of performance the Arsenal faithful crave for, and they will likely help the folks celebrate Saint Totteringham’s Day unless something major goes wrong.

With Arsenal, though, something major goes wrong quite often.


Written by Praveen Paramasivam

Follow Praveen on Twitter @49Praveen

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