Neither Lukas Podolski nor Olivier Giroud can do what Robin van Persie can.
Neither have feet that time after time will pluck amazing goals from the sky, like van Persie could do against Everton on Arsenal’s 125th anniversary.
Neither glide brilliantly to create a split second of a gap for a curling thunderbolt – but then again, he cannot do what they can.
Podolski can run past defenders, whilst Giroud can withstand them. In some ways Wenger has replaced the huge hole van Persie leaves with the talents of two players.
When Anelka left, Wenger brought in Suker and Henry. One for now and one for later. This time we have two for now.
Giroud is taller, blockier, and harder. Van Persie, long limbed and slippery, rarely overpowers opponents with physical strength. He relies on his quick mind, sharp turns and wand-like left foot.
When Fábregas and Nasri left he became the focal point of Arsenal’s game, but the team had lost a degree of technical ability to retain possession at the level it had.
Under pressure from organised teams quick to smother and choke Ramsey or Walcott on the ball, the Dutchman would sometimes be fired passes from midfield he could not retain.
Rather, he wants more adept midfielders that can move the ball left to right, to find him in a yard of space so he can arrow a bullet shot. Arsenal now have Podolski and Giroud as their forward line. Two players about to walk into an ocean of pressure as primary forwards for London’s biggest team. They need to settle, score, succeed ever quicker now.
The European leagues have less differences than in the past with the influx of foreign players, so I do expect them to settle fairly soon.
Both have muscular builds, good temperaments and a background of success. Podolski cannot be said not to have succeeded having contributed so much to his country, whilst Giroud has just won Ligue 1.
Winners breed confidence which breeds winning. Santi Cazorla’s international CV means I add him to this list. He’s the smallest player at the club I think I have ever seen. Smaller than Andrei Arshavin and Nelson Vivas, I believe. He is tough for his height and has the presence of a player that has succeeded. He raises the standard of players around him because they will run down the channel when they know he can find them. Add his passing to Arteta or Wilshere’s, and you see the team looks like it could return to the Cesc-era of possession-control.
The fact that Giroud and Podolski are power players, athletic and flexible, gives Arsenal a sharp ‘bite’ to its attack.
If Arsenal can be reliable at the back (which means not using Santos apart from easy home games) then I see a top 3 finish. You could see higher possession statistics than whatever they have been for some time.
One last word on Robin van Persie; no striker has thus far survived in any team alongside Rooney bar Ronaldo (a winger-hybrid). Rooney has enough assets to complicate and confuse managers’ how best to play him. He’s strong without being a target man, quick without being a sprinter and creative without being a number 10.
Robin, take it from me, you will not have it all your own way.
Follow me on Twitter @Detective82.
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