Alexis Sanchez grabbed the headlines for scoring the winner against Southampton on Wednesday but the turning point of the game was the introduction of Olivier Giroud.
It was very surprising that Wenger did not start the Frenchman after his impressive display against West Brom where his intelligent hold up play allowed the likes of Danny Welbeck and Alexis Sanchez to cut inside from the flanks.
However with fixtures coming thick and fast over the festive period it was perhaps the right decision from the manager to not overuse the player considering the fact that he has just returned from a long injury layoff.
The Gunners lacked the fluidity in the attack and were a bit too one dimensional to really trouble the compact Southampton defence. We were just trying to get behind the defenders through the middle without using the width of the pitch and adding to that the Saints had a goal keeper who just looked unbeatable until the final minutes.
With the game seemingly heading towards a draw, Wenger brought on Olivier Giroud and that changed the complexion of the game. He offered a robust focal point to the Gunners attack allowing us to find new angles and we started to the use the whole width of the pitch. The pressure started to build and Southampton finally succumbed in the 88th minute to a Sanchez goal. Giroud played a key part in the goal as it was his tussle in the box that created havoc in the penalty box and allowed Sanchez to score the all important goal.
The Frenchman is unique among the forwards we got at the club and his aerial presence is just superb. He hasn’t got the speed like Sanchez and Welbeck but his vision is a key component of his game. His physique gives him the platform to receive the ball with his back to goal, which brings other players around him into the game and this helps the team to create more chances.
It doesn’t mean that we have suddenly got a world class player, but it shows that if we can use our strikers in combination then we have got enough versatility to beat any defence that we will encounter.
Was Giroud the catalyst for Arsenal’s victory over Southampton?