Arsenal Focus – Giroud miss rekindles Van Persie memories

After Montpellier’s electric start to Ligue 1 in the last campaign, star striker Olivier Giroud was branded ‘le buteur de charme’, or ‘the charm striker’, by French newspaper Le Parisien. He lived up to that nickname in the following nine months, guiding MHSC to their first ever championship and earning a move to big boys Arsenal. Unfortunately for Gunners fans, there was nothing charming about the forward’s finishing ability on debut yesterday afternoon.

With the game against Sunderland remaining goalless after 64 minutes, Giroud replaced fellow new boy Lukas Podolski as Arsenal’s lone frontman. With ten minutes remaining, he was handed his chance to make an immediate impression in a Gunners shirt when the impressive Santi Cazorla slipped him in on goal. With the net preparing to bulge however, the Frenchman lifted his right-footed shot wide of the post from 12 yards out leaving Arsene Wenger’s men to settle for a point. Less charm, more facepalm.

It would be harsh to ridicule Giroud too much for the miss; he will inevitably tuck those away with ease in future, providing he is not hell-bent on imitating the stuttering career of fellow Gunner Marouane Chamakh. The glaring miss did however mean memories of a not-so-long-ago departed Gunner remain, for now, almost inescapable.

Speaking to Arsenal.com, manager Wenger said: “Maybe people are right [that he would have made a difference], maybe they are wrong – you can never check that. We have played some draws at home with Van Persie, we have lost some games with Van Persie as well. It’s true that last year in every game he found something special. I never denied that we lost a world-class player, that is very difficult to replace.

He went on to add: “Man United looked everywhere, if they didn’t buy anybody else and went for Van Persie at 29 years of age, it’s because they realised that quality is difficult to find on the market.

The Sunderland match, which ended in a stalemate at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday, was made for Robin van Persie. Now shacked up at Old Trafford, the Dutchman bailed Arsenal out of jail multiple times last season in similar situations – a sweeping effort on the hour mark to collect a home win against QPR in December, a fabulous volley earlier that month to edge past Everton, a brace against Norwich City to secure a point – all games in which the Gunners were not at their best but were rescued by a forward whose influence can never be overstated.

Messrs Giroud and Podolski have huge boots to fill and must be clinical in the opening weeks of the season if Arsenal are to avoid echoing the disappointment and even capitulation that occurred at the beginning of the last campaign.

With the departure of Alex Song to Barcelona imminent, Wenger looks almost certain to add to his midfield, with a creative threat looking like a must-buy. The Daily Mail is among the media outlets linking Arsenal with a move for Real Madrid playmaker Nuri Sahin who could join on loan.

See what the expert tipsters at OLBG are tipping on Everton v Man Utd

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