Of recent, Arsene Wenger has been faced with a selection dilemma regarding who should be his first choice option upfront among makeshift centre-forward Alexis Sanchez, and the club’s primary and main striker of the last 4 seasons Olivier Giroud.
With the European Championships having finished on July 10th, a month prior to the start of the 2016-17 Premier League which kicked off on August 13th, Wenger gave a deserved extended break to Giroud who had led France to a disappointing 2nd placed finish in the continental competition.
In his absence, Sanchez got drafted into the vacant position, and he immediately hit the ground running in his new role, scoring 4 goals and assisting 2 others in his first 6 league games as the club’s new number 9.
During that time, Giroud made his return to the squad only to get sidelined almost immediately with a toe injury after seeing EPL action just twice. That kept him out of action until matchday 6 when he made his 3rd league appearance off the bench against Chelsea.
Since then, he has come on as a substitute in his last 3 EPL games against United, Tottenham and Sunderland. During that time, the 30-year-old found the back of the net thrice – scoring 1 more goal than Sanchez in the process.
On the back of the form he has displayed in just the 1 hour of action afforded him within matchday 10 to 12, should he be returned to the starting XI? And Sanchez redeployed to the left wing, or should he continue as Wenger’s plan B and continue making appearances off the substitute bench?
For starters, no other squad player in the EPL has scored more goals (3) than the French international, and considering the urgency he brings into play, and the team’s ability to turn to other sources of getting goals by loading aerial crosses into the box mainly for him, he could be on his way to becoming the latest EPL super sub in history.
— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) November 23, 2016
Giroud is all about goals. Sanchez is all about goals, and the assists. Flexibility and versatility are the factors which make the Chilean not just a goal scorer but a goal creator as well. Being able to constantly drop deep to collect passes and also locate others in the box while he is temporarily out of position, the 27-year-old gets to create chances for himself and his teammates. His French mate waits for everything to be delivered on a platter.
While that is what most strikers often do and are required to most of the time, what makes the few special ones stand out is their ability to do more of fighting for the ball and contributing to play in the final third. And it’s why Sanchez has been more productive in the makeshift centre-forward role.
So, regardless of Giroud’s special ability to contribute to Arsenal’s goals with his headers – a very strong weapon of his having scored the most headed Premier League goals since his arrival in 2012, he is better off coming on in games to decide or put them to bed as he doesn’t have that all-round killer instinct in the final third as Sanchez.