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August 2021

AFC v Sunderland raises the question: Giroud or Henry?

By Tony Attwood (standing in for Walter, who is on a train under the water).

I remember a time in 1987 when, having won nothing for 8 years, Arsenal got to the League Cup final by beating Tottenham in the semis on March 4.  (You may recall the era – the time of “1-0 down, 2-1 up”).

Between that semi-final replay and the Wembley final on April 5, the Arsenal players were said to be “playing for their places” in the cup final team.  If that was the case, it seems that they were not trying very hard, for in the five league games between the semi-final and the final Arsenal played five games, drawing one and losing four.  Worse, during that period we didn’t score a single goal.

Not one.

Now I mention this because Sunderland are currently gearing themselves up for their own League Cup final, and quite honestly they looked as if their own Great Moment was more on their minds than the game at the Ems.

But that may not be fair on them.  For since their win on 22 January on penalties against Man U, they have won twice in the FA Cup, and three times in the league – losing only to Hull City.

So the notion that they were had the League Cup on their minds might be too simple an explanation for what happened in this game.

The fact is that when you look at two of the Arsenal goals they were terrific.  Our centre forward who is apparently not up to it, scored two.  The back line was impressive and the goal keeper didn’t make any obscene gestures.  What more do you want?

As was predicted on Untold (and quite probably everywhere else) Mesut Özil had a holiday or a minor injury, but no one really noticed.  Even the knocks in this game to Monreal, Wilshere and Koscielny were said to be of limited significance.  And given that we are playing Stoke next we need a good range of solid players to choose from.

(Actually I have a certain affinity with Jack’s tight hamstring as I picked up just such an injury this week jiving (after a several week lay off) but I’ve let it be known that I should be available next weekend too.  Just thought you’d like to know.  Me and Jack, you know.  Part of the team.)

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Anyway.  The game opened with Sunderland taking half an hour or so to touch the ball.   I also noted, seeing the game on TV, that the areas near the corner flags rise slightly, which helps keep the ball in play.  Or maybe they are on ramps so that they change depending on whether we want the ball in or out of play.  I mean, there’s technology for everything else, so why not?

Meanwhile I tried counting passes.  It is, it turns out, slightly harder than I imagined.  But in the build up to the second shot we seemed to have a passing stint that was about 40 passes long.  And about that time the co-commentator on Sky said Giroud had to show more commitment.

And then the guy scored, and I thought Giroud’s celebration of his first goal (hitting his heart repeatedly) was possibly symbolic of the fact that he loves his football more than his tart (sorry bit of stuff) (sorry lady friend).   If it was, that’s good news.  That’s what he’s paid for.

And then we had 35 passes in first half which ended with Sagna being taken down to the floor.  And this against a team that has beaten Man C and Chelsea this season.

In the post match interview Poyet said that his players had “poor technique, poor reading of the game,” and were “second best on second balls and in sprints and power,” but I thought that was rather generous.   (Actually I love the phrase “second ball”.  For one match I sat next to a guy who spend the entire game shouting “Second ball Arsenal”.  I started to watch the match from the perspective of the alleged second ball, but by the end of the 90 minutes the shouts still seemed totally random.)

So, what else?  It was good to see Podolski do his stuff, and for the other lot it was nice to welcome back Vito Mannone, who many of us still remember for that amazing performance at Fulham in one of his earliest games.

Of course we could have scored more and more and more and if our position in the league at the end of the season is determined by goal difference then this match will be looked back on as a “poor result” but the key point was, we won.   And we won with Giroud now on 16 goals, which I don’t consider a total disaster for a second season.

Because, here’s the thing.  Thierry Henry (a centre forward who used to play for Arsenal and who was considered rather good) scored 17 league goals in his second season in the league, and 22 in all matches.  His big leap forward game in the third season when he got 24 league goals and 34 in all matches.

Which means that in terms of sticking the ball in the net (Giroud’s prime task) the player is very similar at this stage in his career, as our Terry Enry.

“Ah”, say the naysayers, “but we also had Pires.”  And indeed we did.  Just as we now have Theo and Ramsey.  Yes, both injured, but we are still knocking the ball in.   And these current Giroudian figures are certainly far better than RVP did at this stage of his career.

Thus there it is, or rather was.  We had 63% of possession, and nine shots on target.  Not bad.

I made the line up…

Wojciech Szczesny

Bacary Sagna    Per Mertesacker    Laurent Koscielny    Nacho Monreal

Mikel Arteta   Jack Wilshere

Santi Cazorla    Tomas Rosicky   Lukas Podolski

Olivier Giroud

Rosicky scored another magnificent goal – a goal to remember, just like his half the length of the pitch run against the very Tiny Totts.  Twas rather good.

16 comments to AFC v Sunderland raises the question: Giroud or Henry?

  • PS: Have you noted that Mr Wenger’s hair is getting rather long at the back?

  • Gord

    Tony. Your Millwall article made Best of the blogs at However, they mis-spelled AISA as ASIA.

    I hadn’t noticed Wengers haircut, but the BBC commentary seldom shows relevent pictures. Sorry to hear about twitching your leg in jiving.

  • Florian

    Memories of 2006, with Matt Flamini at left back.

  • AL

    Just seen Rosicky’s goal again, in HD this time round, what a goal. A strong contender for goal of the month.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Somehow the train got back above water and I got safe home.
    As you say Tony: twas rather good 😉

    More articles to write for me: the unveiling of the statue with full transcript of the speeches, the match from the North bank, the trip under and above land and sea , walking in the streets of London and unexpected meetings…. I even have to fit in the pre match food somewhere…

    But now I first am going to enjoy myself by looking at the recording of the match. Just to be sure we won 4-1 as I thought we did when sitting in the stadium. Just with all these different universes, you never know… 🙂

  • nicky

    Glad you will not forget the report on the pre-match food.

  • Pat

    Glad you got to the match Walter. They must have scored 4 goals specially for you.

  • Valentin

    I may seem like a broken record, but a while ago I mention how little coverage Fat Sam treatment of Ravel Morrison was attracting.
    GUESS what, strangely enough, Kevin Kilbane had the same nonsensical story in his autobiography.
    To me, that looks like harassment and racketeering. Sign with my agent who will then receive a percentage of your earnings, or get shipped to the championship! I wonder why Fat Sam would want so much Morrison to change agent.
    Results may have improved at West Ham, but if I were in charge, I would boot them out of my club pronto. Karen Brady better remember, that such bad behaviour could result in the people of charge being accused of colluding with or turning a bling eye to a corrupt regime. Willful ignorance is no defense in the eye of the law.

  • menace

    Giroud proves that he can score in more ways than one.
    However, I cannot help wondering why Arsenal slow down after a couple of goals. They should continue to score for the whole 90 minutes. Arsenal need to up their mentality with regard to large scores. It is part of the game and improves self belief. The media will also start to get embarassed and change their negative stance.

  • Jax

    @ Valentin
    Yeah, right. How is this an issue for Arsenal?

  • menace,

    Our ferocity changed in the second half because Monreal had to leave and Sagna moved to LB. More changes took place later which further ruined our balance. I believe that if we had played for up to 75 minutes with our starting 11, we’d have scored a few more.

    I totally agree with your point though. I wanted a 6-0 result so badly yesterday that I was as disappointed as you that we did not get it. Man City already have insurmountable lead on goals, I don’t want Chelsea to have the same and yesterday looked like a great day to cancel their goals advantage. But there is a reason why we couldn’t: it is better to keep what you have in adversity than to try to increase it and lose it all, as we learned in similar circumstances against Aston Villa.

  • Mandy Dodd

    It is all very disturbing Valentin, Sam is known for being more than a little dodgy. Unfortunately, the whole British football establishment are turning a blind eye to multiple forms of corruption through agents, betting syndicates, money laundering, corrupt owners, corrupt officials. They do go after the token African player at a non league team in Brighton or the odd lower league player, but will not touch anyone near the top. In Britain, corruption starts at the top and works it’s way downwards

  • bjtgooner

    Slightly off topic.

    I didn’t see any of the Man City match until this morning & as we play Stoke next I was interested to see how they were playing.

    What struck me was that Kompany was very lucky to stay on the field – he continued to foul the Orcs despite having a yellow and got away with it. Another strange decision going City’s way? Kos or Mert would have been off the field for less.

  • Valentin

    @Jax, to me that shows the bias of the English media.
    Here is potentially a clear case of corruption and still they don’t investigate. They rather have a sting operation with a prostitute on a French striker at Arsenal. Talk about having the right priority.
    According to rumours, she instigated the contact. Invited herself in his bedroom. Took some picture and then bolted before any action could take place. She had a deal in place with the Sunday paper before. She does not deny it!! She admitted that no sex took place and that she was prepared to take picture. I just hope that her undeserved 30 silver coin cost her any potential career opportunity.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    @ Valentin – She would be wise to beware of the pitfalls that befall fame seekers and highflyers like this infamous beauty of the sixties.