Monday 26 September 2016

'It's not just me, look at Özil'- Arsenal's Olivier Giroud passes the buck after latest failed title bid

Tom Rooney

Published 07/06/2016 | 15:03

Perhaps it’s a knee-jerk reaction to the rumoured imminent purchase of Jamie Vardy, but Olivier Giroud has sought to downplay his own culpability in Arsenal’s failed title bid last season by throwing a celebrated teammate under the bus.

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Arsene Wenger’s lack of activity in last summer’s transfer window was the source of great frustration for the Gunners faithful, though lone purchase Petr Cech’s 16 clean sheets unquestionably justify that purchase.

It was the other end of the pitch, however, where many felt Arsenal required additional resources.

Few could argue that this season, one where the vast majority of the established elite underperformed, was a prime opportunity for the London outfit to win a first title in 12 seasons.

Of course, Arsenal finished second behind Leicester following Spurs’ capitulation upon the Foxes being crowned champions, but the lingering consensus is that they blew it.

Not for the first time, the klaxon call emanating from certain quarters for Wenger to step down was loud and clear

Subsequently, and perhaps in response to Manchester United and City, and Chelsea all hiring elite managers, the Gunners look to  be adding a number of new faces for the campaign to come.

Midfielder Granit Xhaka was purchased from Borussia Monchengladbach last month and Jamie Vardy’s £20m buyout clause at Leicester is said to have been triggered. Reports that Arsenal are moving for Riyad Mahrez are also doing the rounds.

The prospect of Vardy’s arrival will hardly be music to the ears of Giroud, who finished as the club’s top goal scorer with 24 in all competitions. Though the French international has said that he and the England man could form a potent partnership.

It’s a fair assumption now that Arsenal's title push irreparably faltered over the festive period; between December 26 and February 2, they managed just two wins in seven league games.

As February became March, they then lost two on the bounce to Swansea and Man United before drawing with Spurs.

Speaking to the Guardian, Giroud accounted for the customary Arsenal dip, and a certain German playmaker might not be too happy with what he had to say.

“For some reason we always seem to have this dip around March. Not just me, if you look at our best players, such as Mesut (Özil) who made less assists after the turn of the year.”

The former Real Madrid star contributed a league-high 19 assists, six more than his closest rival, Spurs’ Christian Eriksen. Özil created 11 goals before the new year and eight after, so Giroud sounds both harsh and a little desperate there.

If Vardy were to arrive, Giroud, given his lack of pace, might be the odd man out, when considering that Theo Walcott, Danny Welbeck and Alexis Sanchez are all in receipt of serious gas.

After limited success over the last decade, Wenger could be ready to abandon the possession based game that continues to garner aesthetically pleasing football but mixed results.

On a more positive note, the 29-year-old seems to think the club are moving in the right direction.

“In my first year we finished fourth, the following season third and now second. We will have to improve on that to take the final step next season.”

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