|Click here to vote for Woolwich 1886 as a best #new blog
in the 2013 FBAs. Thanks!
Wielding a significant height advantage over Marseille’s first-choice keeper and defenders, and on a fine run of form that has seen him score in four of five matches to start the season, Giroud looks well-positioned to seize the initiative in his second visit to France since joining Arsenal in June 2012. He has looked bright, confident, and, may I say, clinical. His touch has seemed sharp, and we have yet to any wasteful ways. Of his 22 shots so far, seven have been on frame, and four have found their way home. If we look at conversion-rate as a ratio of shots on target and goals, Giroud has an unheard-of conversion-rate of 57%. Taken as a ratio of shots to goals, he still manages a sparkly 18.2%. By any metric, then, Giroud has found a rather comfortable rhythm to start the season, the kind of run that bodes well for Wednesday as well as for the season as a whole. I’ve tabbed him to go for twenty goals in the Prem (and did so before Özil joined the squad). Özil’s first touches saw him collect a Gibbs lob and thread a cross into the box for Giroud to send home, an exquisite display that certainly bodes well for their partnership. For as much as we might bemoan Theo Walcott’s profligacy this past Saturday, Giroud made good on his chance, and it’s there that we should focus. Walcott’s finishing will improve in time. If anything, he might be suffering from an embarrassment of riches, hardly believing the service he’s getting. There’s hope in that, myopic though it may be. With Giroud, there seems less need for such hope as he’s currently the Prem’s leading scorer (tied with Benteke and Sturridge for those interested in full disclosure) and looks to build on that through a growing relationship with Özil.
As for Marseille, they’ve started well enough but have done so against a fair number of minnows, beating Evian, Valenciennes and newly-promoted Guingamp, winners of four of fifteen matches between them; and drawing with winless Toulouse and losing to newly-promoted Monaco. This is an uneven start, to say the least, and not one that should inspire fear. It should certainly not, on the other hand, inspire complacency. Arsène has targeted ten points (from 18 available) as the threshold for qualification. Taking all three from Marseille on Wednesday and again in November would put us in fine shape for advancement, then. Even with a couple of tricky fixtures coming up—home vs. Stoke, at West Brom, at Swansea—on the horizon, here’s hoping that Arsène fields something close to a full-strength squad. Mertesacker and Vermaelen are both available, the latter returning from long-term injury. Some rotation in the back-line might be appropriate as a result. The midfield looks stable, if only because of a dearth of options, with Ramsey and Flamini in the pivot with Özil, Walcott, and Wilshere patrolling the midfield behind Giroud up-top. Truth be told, Marseille is a team we really should be able to manage, if not dominate, if we expect to make any progress. I don’t mean to underestimate Marseille, of course, but taking all three points is a vital goal. Taking all three points against an inferior opponent (no disrespect) is key—and I think our boys know this and will go out like berserkers to do that.
In other news (in case you didnt’ notice the invitation above), this blog is up for a best new blog in the Football Blogging Awards. You can vote by clicking here. This will ask you to submit your email address in order to receive the email-ballot. Clicking that link will invite you to submit your chosen site, and I hope you’ll enter woolwich1886.blogspot.com in the #new category. If you’re on twitter, you can copy and tweet this: I am voting in @TheFBAs for @woolwich_1886 as the Best #New Football Blog. In either case, I hope you’ll take a moment to cast your ballot. Thanks!