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A Van Persie-Giroud partnership? And Podolski?

By Phil Gregory

Arsenal.com published an interesting article on our new signing Olivier Giroud. The part that caught my eye was the debate around whether Giroud will be a starter with Robin or not (leaving aside all contract chat for now).

In it, Philippe Auclair said “I can imagine a 4-4-1-1 with Robin van Persie playing in a Bergkamp role; I can imagine a new version of a 4-4-2; and I can imagine Robin playing on the right as an inverted winger too. All sorts of combinations, but I don’t think Robin van Persie‘s presence will harm his chances of featuring in the first XI. I still think it is possible to have Lukas Podolski, Giroud and Van Persie in the same team, and that is a terrific prospect”. 

That’s certainly an interesting prospect, playing Giroud with Robin. I’m not convinced it will happen however.

For one, despite Giroud’s undoubted quality, I can’t see us moving Robin from that central striking berth given his effervescent performances last season. The system thrives on Robin dropping deep to get involved in play, which leaves the opposition centrebacks a real dilemma: do they follow Robin, and leave space in behind for the pace of Gervinho and Walcott to exploit, or do they allow Robin to drop off and support the build-up play?

Clearly, the latter isn’t a great option, as with our usual three classy central players we dominate possession against most sides anyway, so the defence can’t just pass him off to an already stretched central midfield area -we’ll dominate the ball even more, and the opposition four defenders will effectively be marking two wide players.

Auclair suggests that Robin could play  wider to accommodate Giroud centrally, but again, why would you move Robin from a position where he has been so impressive? Moreover, as we say when moving centrebacks to fullback last season, playing in different positions places different strains on the body, and we’d be likely to see Robin get injured more often. He’d also have to cover more ground which wouldn’t help with that either, plus do you really want Robin further away from goal?

Neither can I see us switching back to a 442/4411 formation. Our midfield three is vital to our possession game, and our wide attackers thrive on being able to cut inside and wouldn’t be as effective in a left/right wing position.

There’s also the matter of substitutes and the squad: a two striker system would require four strikers ready to go, and with Bendtner seemingly on his way out it looks like we’re aiming for three strikers, with Chamakh serving as third back-up.

There are benefits to starting Olivier, of course. His height and aerial ability would come in useful in winning his balls and crosses, an area where we are notably not to great in. On the whole though, I can’t see us making wholesale changes to the shape of the side for one signing, but to know for sure we’ll have to wait for the first day of the season.

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17 comments to A Van Persie-Giroud partnership? And Podolski?

  • Mandy Dodd

    Very interested to see how wenger sets our forwards out, hopefully with giroud, we will also have some presence at set pieces, should be a few more goals from that route.
    Was amused to read that allegedly, Chelsea tried to hijack the giroud move, even more amused to read OGs take on it. What on earth do Chelsea want with giroud when they can spend fifty million on a flop. It it just me, or are Chelsea, like city trying to do our club. And if so, wonder why? Does this mean Chelsea will now be in for Frey, mvila, gotze, holiiett, joey Barton, ryan babel, nzonzi, HBA and the rest of them? If Chelsea are so into our transfer targets, we could be missing a trick here?

  • Stig

    I think 4-2-3-1 we used quite alot prior to Cescs departure would be the formation which would acommodate both our new signings + RvP all at once, the best.

    Sagna / Jenkinson – Vermaelen / Kozz / Per / Djorou – Gibbs / Santos
    Arteta / Song – Wilshere / Ramsey
    Walcott / Chamberlain – RvP / Wilshere – Podolski / Gervinho
    RvP / Giroud

    With the front 4 topped like this:

    Walcott – RvP – Podolski
    Giroud

  • Stanley

    Giroud’s not an automatic starter, I assume he’ll come off the bench to give RvP a breather every now and then or when we’re down by a goal or two. Most of his games starting will be against weaker opposition, FA Cup and League Cup. It’ll most likely be RvP, Podolski and Theo up front for the important games. Mind you we still have the likes of Ox, Ryo, Gervinho on the bench so we’re talking about some decent firepower up front now.

  • Phil

    Szczęsny

    sagna – Verminator – Kos – Gibbs (possibly need a diverse defender braught in with sanga’s leg and gibbs track record)

    song – arteta

    walcott Podolski

    van Persie

    grouid

    i think wilshere shouldnt be rushed in and maybe MAYBE sent out on a short loan to a championship side just to get back to full fitness before taking on the prem

  • Jer

    Funny that Mancini is asking the Sheikh to up his interest in our RVP, they already have taken 4 players from Arsenal, and a ex arsenal captain is on their technical bench, isn’t the Sheikh better off just signing Wenger to get him the players he needs :-), or better off making an audacious bid to the 66% chair-holder and forget city he he, just find it amusing..

  • Having checked the name ‘Philippe Auclair’ in wikipedia, I’m very surprised at his comments. Tosh or what?

    I don’t kiss arse, Phil. Never have done, never will do… so understand when I say that whilst Monsieur Auclair seems to have little understanding of present-day Arsenal or Wenger’s tactical thinking, YOU certainly do, in my opinion.

    As regards your comment regarding Chamakh, I think it’s plausible (though not definite) that he (Chamakh) could stay on for one more year. If van Persie LEAVES, I think it will almost certainly be the case that Chamakh will get the offer of a one-season extension. However, if van Persie STAYS, I think Chamakh will probably move on.

    Chamakh has Premiership experience (albeit relatively limited); he knows the Arsenal set-up so settling-in time unnecessary; he’s 25 years old (yes?) so in one year still saleable. Wenger wouldn’t need to splash the cash on another striker – he can instead spend on strengthening other positions.

    So much depends on van Persie, who’s making life difficult for Wenger, the fans, the CLUB. Time to show a little more respect SIR Robin.

    Good post.

  • Oganzo

    I’m probably going to get the thrashing from the lot of fellow real gooners, but let me air my view which I’ve held since the alleged “stalled negotiations” between the club and RVP begun. I have a hunch that this has been a trick used by Wenger with the knowledge of the club and RVP too, to disorient other “parasite” clubs from our targets and thus allow us to do business early and settle down in readiness for the season. Last summer, people think that Wenger left it too late to buy, but I disagree. I think he was shopping, but since other teams just throw unbelievable amounts around, they were able to buy people we were negotiating with; remember Mata anyone?? Once we are able to buy the people we want, at the price we feel is right (Giroud had a whooping 50 mil placed against his signature, remember?? How much did we pay for him again??), then we can settle and play our game without stress. If that is the case (its hypothetical, but plausible), then Wenger would turn out to be the shrewdest tactician around with such a move. At least the summer rush to buy in a market when others have already bought the fresh and good stuff leaving us panting looking for leftovers, will be left to others, not Woolwich Arsenal!! @ Stig, I’m loving your lineups…They smell of…FIRE!!! Can’t wait to rumble this coming season. GTID!!!!

  • TheSKAGooner

    @Oganzo –

    Interesting, and for the most part plausible theory. One thing I would caution against though, is the idea that Giroud EVER had a 50m pound price on his signature. While it’s true that the MHSC President did say it would/should cost that much to sign him, the fact remains that OG had a ~12m buyout clause in his contract. As soon as someone stepped up with a bid to meet that, as Arsenal did, Giroud was free to negotiate a deal with the new club if he so wished. MHSC were hands tied because of the buyout clause and had to let him go as soon as the clause price was met.

  • Ong Bing

    Yes, we can play 4411 with Giroud on front and RVP behind him. They can exchange the position, Robin in front and Giroud behind him.

    I read Giroud’s last season statistics, he scores 4 or 5 goals from outside, so if he play behind Robin, he can shoots from outside box.

    Interesting, very interesting, one player can make many differrent option for us. Damn, Arsene is genius!

    We have so much combination in the front, and if it works very well, I am worry Mancini will buy all of them! Damn, have a lot of money is very good!

  • rusty

    I would actually defer to Michael Cox (of ZonalMarking.net) in assessing players’ roles, and in his Euro 2012 preview for the Netherlands, he suggested that Robin has, in fact, become more of a penalty box player than a deeper-playing false nine.

    I don’t know that, in this role, he would pair well with Giroud from kickoff, because of the holes it would create in midfield, but it might give Arsenal a new type of supersub. Rather than introducing a fresh pair of legs out wide (Arshavin or AOC) to re-inject pace in the second half when the team is chasing a goal, Wenger can drop a more defensive player and bring on a second striker who would allow RVP to poach chances from off the ball. I think the team has tried this occasionally in the past with Chamakh or Bendtner, but I believe the team likes Giroud for being so new to top-level football that his game can still be coached into a preferred shape.

  • C4

    Meanwhile, the mirror and of course our super gunner journalist JC, are doing everything they can to sell RVP. Just look at the sheer number of articles about RVP leaving.
    It’s almost like man sh!tty hired them to get RVP to move. Reminds me of the ridiculous volume of articles that were popping up every day when the media were selling Cesc. Is there a similar volume of articles in such a short time about any other football player on their site (besides Cesc’s articles in their archives)? Maybe on Ronaldo? Messi? Wazza?

  • Johan Greening

    Whatever happens, they may need to give Robin Van Persie more rest as he did run out of puff to a certain extent late in the season. It may not happen again this year because he has had a full season under the belt unlike the years preceeding when he was injured quite a lot but do they want to risk it again.

  • C4

    I think he’ll play less than he did last season, now that we have some more fire power up front. Can’t wait for pre-season, I’d like to see how the new guys integrate. And hopefully Jack is back for good too.

  • elkieno

    Man I sm so excited for the new season! I can’t wait to see us take to tr field v Sunderland and see what we got and how it works together. I went on le groan and altho The article was not calling for le boss head, some ‘fanspuds’ were still having a dig at him. There can be no reason other than them sticking to their guns so as not to sound like a internal turn coat! They have nailed their colours to Thr flag pole and no turning back now.
    I wonder how it feels to have a blog that services spurs fans and Gooners born in 92 or something!

  • Ed

    i think any formation is very fluid and always has been with arsenal. You can pick a midfield/attack of 6 players, and they can probably fit into anything from 442, 451, 433, 4411 etc.

    However, i think he will continue with the 433 we have used recently, because it seems to be most suited to the players we have, our game where we want to dominate the midfield, and using pace on the wings to stretch the opposition. We have a number of important central midfielders – song, arteta, ramsey, wilshire, coquelin – all who are capable of starting so i prefer to have 3 of them on than risk any becoming unhappy at not getting enough game time. I think the OX will be very important this season, but i think his pace, strength and trickery is most dangerous in a forward 3 tho i know wenger prefers him in the center of midfield.

    Tho we havent won trophies, i dont think that is down to the system, cos wen we have had all the players required who have followed the plan, we have beaten the best sides in the world.

    I also think Giroud will be more of a back-up to van persie. We saw RVP play so many games and that was why he ran out of steam in the last few games of the season and also with Euro 2012, he hasnt had any rest. I expect them to share the workload a lot more especially after RVPs history of injury problems and his heavy game time the past year.

    this will mean that Chamahk is frozen out even more – is it any different from last season? – and should be sold. Podolski i think will fight with gervinho for the left forward position and can be moved to the middle if needed and hence arshavin will not be needed.

    some people are complaining that we are just buying attackers, but i think it is a very focused plan to improve depth of the squad. It is in attack that we have a number of players taking up squad numbers, but not performing even as back-ups e.g. chamahk, park, arshavin. in midfield and defence, i can only argue that squillaci is someone we cant even trust as back-up. Diaby is a different case and everytime he plays, he does a good job.

  • Wooby

    RVP has apparently announced on his website he will not be extending his contract with us (http://www.goal.com/en-gb/news/2896/premier-league/2012/07/04/3220666/van-persie-i-will-not-extend-my-contract-at-arsenal).

    I suggest the club should keep him for the last year of his contract because I think the value he generates in this one season will be worth more than the transfer fee we receive for him (which won’t be much – and please, no rants about what “fair market value” for RVP should be … because FMV must factor in the number of years left on a contract in addition to performance).

    Can’t wait to see the chick little headlines screaming the “sky is falling” … at least this year they cannot scream at Wenger for not being prepared given the arrival of Poldi and Giroud. Now they will simply scream “Wenger must go … he is holding the club back” … BLEH …

    I am bothered more by the lack of loyalty from RVP towards the club than his apparent words that he and the club differ on the way forward. Differences happen all the time, any of us can have a difference of opinion with the way our superiors run the companies we work at. But given his history of injury and the club’s refusal to dump him when he was down, it is disheartening to hear he is preparing to leave now that he has recovered. I suppose I should not be upset as it is the way of the modern sporting world, but when you are talking about making another million or two on top of the millions you are making … is a show of appreciation a little too much to ask?

  • Michael "the Gooner"

    Not good news.Since when does a footballer tell the club how it should be run.Lets see where he goes.We never dicussed money!Bollocks.Ok,go to PSG, good money you will win things.Do me a favour.Off to either the Manchester clubs.