Is Giroud the new Alan Smith?

By Avenell Dave

I remember when Arsenal played Leicester at Highbury one year in the late 1980s and there was a buzz around the stadium about the announcement of a new striker.

The fact that he was playing against us that day added to the intrigue because, in all honesty, no one had heard of him. Some smart arse said that he was a better player than Gary Lineker, another Leicester City striker but we saw little to suggest that was the case.

I can't remember how he played but I don't think any of us were too impressed with him, certainly where I was sitting.

But over the next eight years or so, Alan Smith turned into one of our most important players.

No blessed with great pace, he nevertheless provided the classic Number Nine outlet for the team.

I rarely saw anyone who held the ball up better; he was a fine header and had a decent shot on him.

He scored goals inside and outside the area and brought others into play and provided an outlet when the team was in trouble to give the defence and midfield some breathing space.

Watching Olivier Giroud recently, I've seen much of the same type of skill and it bodes well for the team.

Surprisingly, there are some who remain unconvinced about Giroud but you only have to see the impact he made against Montpellier to see how valuable he is to the team - and how much his former club miss him.

He's also a superb defender - perhaps a career as a libero beckons when he gets older? - and his presence at the back certainly gives us more stability at set pieces.

But going forward, he never gives up, has a bit of trickery about him and when he said he hoped to score 12-15 goals this season, I think it's safe to say that he'll pass that mark without too much trouble.

While many Addicts speak of signing a new striker, how I'd love to see an Ian Wright type player come in to play alongside him.

Wright scored goals for fun and while Theo Walcott has shown some of the promise to be a central striker, I've almost written him out of my forward thinking daydream plans because I really doubt he's going to sign a new deal.

That leaves us with such a thin squad, though, that I can't see many changes for the first of two tricky away games, against Aston Villa on Saturday evening.

Villa are poor and it's about time they went down, but you just know taht at home, under the lights and on TV, they'll put on a decent show and we have to win to get some real momentum going.

I can't see Arsene Wenger making many changes to the team - perhaps he'll bring in Kieran Gibbs if he's fully recovered and I wonder if, having played his first 90 minutes of the season, Lukas Podolski may get a rest now that Gervinho is fit again.

We certainly need to rotate a bit but it's tricky doing that when the side is still a work in progress with ground to make up and form still inconsistent.

We all expect a win - but then we almost always do, don't we?

Addict XI


Sagna Mertesacker Koscielny Gibbs

Cazorla Arteta Wilshere

Oxlade-Chamberlain Giroud Gervinho