Arsenal 1 Tottenham 0: Three lessons as Olivier Giroud impresses
Arsenal 1 Tottenham 0: What lessons did we learn as Olivier Giroud scored the only goal in the north London derby?
Spurs new boys impress but need time
The stark difference between Tottenham’s spending and Arsenal’s lack thereof this summer has been well-documented in the last few weeks. Spurs have splurged around £100m on new recruits ahead of Gareth Bale’s expected world-record move to Real Madrid, while the Gunners have spent exactly nothing, with free transfers Yaya Sanogo and Mathieu Flamini the only new arrivals. Andre Villas-Boas opted to give four of his new signings the chance to impress in the north London derby – and the signs were promising. Nacer Chadli was a constant nuisance down the left and got the better of Carl Jenkinson on a number of occasions early on at The Emirates even if he was far less effective after the break. And Roberto Soldado showed smart movement throughout the game – despite being kept in check by Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker. Paulinho and Etienne Capoue were also afforded starts and both were quietly impressive, not looking out of place in Premier League. Capoue was carried off on a stretcher with an apparent ankle problem. Erik Lamela, a £30m signing from Roma, was also a second-half substitute, demonstrating Spurs’ new-found strength in depth. It is inevitable that the Tottenham new-boys will take a few weeks to gel, such is the sheer number of arrivals at White Hart Lane. But Lilywhites chairman Daniel Levy can take encouragement from what he saw at The Emirates despite the result, as Spurs prepare for life without PFA player of the year Bale.
Hard-working Giroud continues fine form
The France international continued his impressive run on Sunday as he netted the winner after having scored in both of Arsenal’s previous Premier League games. The signs have been encouraging as the 26-year-old settles into his second season in England. Giroud, who netted 17 goals in all competitions last term, is looking sharp – and his lovely finish in the 23rd minute was of a striker full of confidence. After Theo Walcott was released by Tomas Rosicky, Giroud darted in at the near post in front of a scrambling Michael Dawson to deftly sneak his shot home past Hugo Lloris with the outside of his boot. He had chances to add to his opener after the break and his hold-up play is a vital asset in helping the Gunners regroup after soaking up pressure. The Frenchman’s hard-working attitude proved key, too, as he made a number of tackles and helped his side cling on in the closing stages despite waves of stoppage-time pressure from Spurs. Speaking after the game, Giroud said he is feeling more comfortable at The Emirates with each passing day. “I know my team-mates and they know me much better,” he said. “We can find each other with our eyes closed.” Sunday’s man-of-the-match now has four goals in five games this season and Arsenal fans will be hoping the hard-working forward can continue his rich vein of form.
What do Arsenal need?
Focusing so intensely on the solution can actually make it surprisingly easy to lose sight of what the problem is. The clamour for big-name signings at Emirates Stadium this summer has been relentless. Failed bids for Luis Suárez and continuous speculation linking the Gunners with the likes of Gonzalo Higuaín, Wayne Rooney and Juan Mata has left the idea of Arsenal having failed to strengthen by this stage of the window almost unthinkable. There is no doubting that the Gunners have a relatively strong starting 11. The problem is a lack of quality in the support on the bench (something top-four rivals Spurs now have in abundance). Injuries to Alex Oxlade-Chamblerlain and Mikel Arteta have left the Gunners short in the midfield department, while Thomas Vermaelen is still an absentee in defence. With goalkeeper Vito Mannone’s move to Sunderland and a lack of striking options at The Emirates, it would not be foolish to suggest that Arsenal are in need of at least one new face in all four areas. The fact that there is only a little over 24 hours left for Arsene Wenger to bolster his squad will be a concern for Gunners fans, who were largely led to believe that this was the summer in which the Frenchman would finally splash the cash. It would be criminal for the north Londoners to fail to strengthen. Their first-choice team deserve it.