Leicester City manager, Nigel Pearson, gave his players a day off training on Christmas Day, so did Louis van Gaal. Wenger had his players train that day, like the rest of the 17 other teams did, but one squad member was probably unhappy.
So having seen through that 45 minutes, he ‘held on’ for some 10 minutes in the second half, and got himself the tickets to an early shower. Thankfully, there was no immediate effect on the end result but Giroud won’t be available for the next three games, beginning with West Ham on Sunday, and given his form and his contribution to our attack, it is nothing short of a bitter blow.
It opens the opportunities for some of the unhappy players on the bench to come and have a good Christmas for the next two weeks, and there is no shortage of candidates.
Yaya Sanogo, Joel Campbell, Theo Walcott, Lukas Podolski and Danny Welbeck will all be looking to benefit in one way or another from Giroud’s suspension. Welbeck has had to play from the flanks since Giroud’s return, probably the reason why he has struggled in front of goal. Walcott could not get minutes due to the nature of the QPR game, and may get a chance to start on the right if Wenger chooses to restore Danny as the Number 9, with Alexis on the left. Same would apply to Campbell if Walcott were still to be considered short of fitness. Knowing Wenger, Sanogo will probably be the one he chooses to directly replace Giroud, leaving Welbeck and Alexis in their positions.
However, it should be the unhappy one, Lukas Podolski, who should be getting the nod as Giroud’s replacement.
Poldi is yet to make a start in the League this season, being also without a goal. he is made no secret of his desire to play more frequently and there may not be more available games for him than the coming ones, beginning with West Ham. He is statistically the best finisher at the club but has not really excelled as a Number 9, doing most of his work from the left. Playing him on the left has brought its own problems as his commitment to putting in the defensive work has yet to be proven beyond doubt.
But he impressed enough with his all-round work at Galatasaray to justify a claim of improvement, coming close to scoring a hat-trick even, and there is nothing to prove he cannot do a job at West Ham. In their ‘UnClassic Commentary’ on the home game against West Ham last season, Cazorla did say he enjoyed playing with Podolski and considering the Spaniard is back to his flourishing best, it could also work well for Podolski to get on the score sheet and prove he still has a future in this team.
Wenger cannot be entirely blamed for not playing him as much until now, but as he had no option but to play Rosicky in Chamberlain’s injured absence, he would have to consider Poldi as his best card to play in Giroud’s absence.
Walcott and Campbell should still be given some time if we’ve sealed it going into the last ten.
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