You can never quite count Arsenal out. The team overcame its struggles in the Champions League to play one of its best games of the year against a tough Olympiacos side and keep its dreams of European silverware alive. Olivier Giroud put in a terrific performance, notching his first hat-trick as a Gunner while continuing to have a spectacular season in the Premier League as well.
Based on his current form, Giroud was an absolute steal when Arsene Wenger snagged him out from under the nose of Montpellier for less than £10 million back in 2012. The modest investment has paid off in spades for the team. Giroud is currently having one of his best seasons yet and has proven himself as one of the most reliable strikers in the Premier League.
The French forward has scored 9 times in 10 Premier League matches, putting him in the top 5 for most goals in the league. Whether or not he will be able to continue his spectacular run will likely boil down to available playing time, because many important players are set to return from injury around the holiday break.
Many of Giroud’s opportunities this season have come as a result of Alexis Sanchez being sidelined with a hamstring injury—and Giroud has definitely made the most of his moment in the sun. His goal against the beleaguered Aston Villa made Giroud the seventh player in team history to score 50 goals for Arsenal and we predict there will be plenty more goals in the forward’s future.
Arsenal are currently pegged at 5/1 to win the Premier League, but we expect their chances to greatly improve in the coming weeks based on the team’s latest performances and the amount of key players set to return from injury after the holidays.
Chilean striker Alexis Sanchez has returned to practice and hopes to be back in game-form in time for the big match against Manchester City. Midfielders Tomas Rosicky and Jack Wilshere are both likely to return by the end of January with even more players due to become available later in the spring.
While the return of Sanchez and company would definitely make an impact on the squad, manager Arsene Wenger said they will not rush the player back onto the pitch before he’s ready. “He may be a bit short for City, certainly, but with Alexis you never know,” said Wenger. “He is running already. I sent him back to Chile, where he has been running with the physio of the national team, and we will see what kind of state he is in.”
With Sanchez healthy and Giroud at the top of his game, Arsenal is looking as formidable as ever as we reach the holiday break. We’ll see how the playing time is redistributed once Arsenal has a surplus of scoring threats for the first time this season. However, that’s a problem most teams would be pleased to have.