Whenever the phrase ‘the team needs a plan B’ is uttered, what usually follows is a commentator or pundit asking/suggesting/implying that a team needs to throw a big man on to mix it up.
For some reason it’s ingrained in English football that a plan B, by default, is a target-man able to get on the end of crosses in the hope the dramatic switch in play results in a goal.
What these people fail to realise is these tweaks don’t have to be so dramatic. Teams don’t have to go from playing liquid football to taking a page out of the Tony Pulis playbook to mix it up.
There are so many in-game tactical changes that managers make in an attempt to break down a team when their Plan A isn’t working, but these aren’t acknowledged because none of them involve a 6ft 2ins striker coming on and the opposition being bombarded with crosses.
Christian Benteke failed at Liverpool and Wilfried Bony didn’t light up the Etihad. Partly because they weren’t starters and partly because their strengths didn’t match up with the style of play at their respective clubs.
People always say ‘X player could be the new Didier Drogba’ in terms of being a ‘big man’, but being able to play in a fluid system and they may have the potential but Drogba was a guaranteed starter and the style of play showed off his strengths.
Others aren’t afforded such a luxury when they move to a big club.
It’s hard to find the perfect blend of presence and ability to play with the ball to feet unless they’re a starter and the attack is built around them.
What makes it so special is they don’t have to change their style to get the best out of the Frenchman. He’s capable of playing the Arsenal way, he just gives them added aerial presence in attack and creates space for the midfielders.
A great squad player
Giroud has had a tough time since joining the Gunners in 2012/13. He’s been criticised in the past for being wasteful, not clinical enough and basically not good enough to help Arsenal sustain a title challenge for the entirety of the season.
Since his move to the Emirates, Giroud has scored 105 goals and has 41 assists to his name in 16,066 minutes of play.
He’s been directly involved in a goal in the every 153 minutes throughout his entire Arsenal career. He’s failed to score over 20 league goals in a single season in England, but for a £10million man his return isn’t shameful.
Granted, it’s not enough to fire Arsenal to a league title but he’s more than pulling his weight in the team. As a supplement to the main striker in the squad he’d be ideal and it appears Arsène Wenger has cottoned on to this.
From Alexis Sánchez leading the line last term, that responsibility has fallen to record-signing Alexandre Lacazette. The new Frenchman may have hit a dry spell, but he is still contributing to how the Gunner attack.
Out injured, Arsenal have missed Giroud’s ability to contribute to the attack off the bench and Wenger shouldn’t consider selling him to Borussia Dortmund in order to land Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Giroud coming off the bench is a completely different prospect to the brutish yet classy Frenchman starting a match and Arsenal relying on him to score.
He showed last season how he could be quite the weapon for Wenger and his team off of the bench. He came on against Sunderland and netted twice in a 4-1 win which was by no means as comfortable as the scoreline suggests.
He scored an injury-time equaliser against Manchester United at Old Trafford to snatch a draw from the jaws of defeat.
He then came off the bench against Bournemouth and set up the Arsenal third to secure victory. He played his part in Arsenal securing seven points in those three matches.
The dashing Frenchman scores goals and has an impact on the attack without Arsenal having to really change the way they play to get the best out of him.
He works hard, he presses and he’s heavily involved in the attack. He gives the team a focal point without them losing their attacking fluidity.
Arsenal fans don’t realise how lucky they are to have a perfectly good plan B sitting on the bench who didn’t cost £30 million. It’s little wonder Wenger believes the French striker is a key member of his squad.
When Dortmund’s interest was known to the French striker in the summer, he was intrigued by the idea of moving to the Bundesliga. Now the option is there again, he might not say no a second time as he looks to cement his place in France’s World Cup squad.
But Arsenal should do all in their power to keep Giroud in north London. As plan Bs go, there are few better.