Olivier Giroud could finally be set to fire for Arsenal. The French striker has struggled to deliver the goal threat Arsenal were counting on when they snared him from Montpellier.
However, Giroud's performance in the Gunners' midweek draw against Schalke 04, provides hope that he will soon make the grade.
Giroud was a central figure in both of Arsenal's goals in Gelsenkirchen on Tuesday night. He was the target for the long pass over the top of Schalke's defense, that let Theo Walcott eventually score.
Next came Giroud's first-ever UEFA Champions League goal, after he connected with Lukas Podolski's cross, with a powerful diving header.
That career landmark should give Giroud the confidence he needs to begin terrorising English Premier League defenses. However, it was his all-round performance and the way Arsenal used him, that offer the most encouragement.
Arsene Wenger's team weren't shy about using the aerial outlet offered by Giroud's 6'4" frame. They frequently lofted long passes for the bullish front man to hold up.
Importantly, many of these passes came out of defense.
Launching a quick ball from the back is something Arsenal must do more often. They like to play out and build attacks from defense.
The trouble is every opponent knows that. It has become too easy to force the Gunners into mistakes, simply by pressing their back four.
Releasing a long pass towards Giroud, eliminates that concern. It also avoids a congested midfield, against opponents content to swarm Mikel Arteta and Santi Cazorla in numbers.
Arsenal often find themselves forced to play through static lines of four and five. This hinders their short, quick possession game and forces many of their passes sideways.
Firing direct balls in the direction of Giroud varies the pace of Arsenal's attacking approach.
It was effective against Schalke and allowed Giroud to link well with Walcott and advanced midfielders like Jack Wilshere.
Including more of an aerial dimension in the play, involved Giroud more in the game. He was able to use his underrated mobility to spin into the channels, the way Emmanuel Adebayor used to.
Another aspect of Giroud's performance in Germany, was the type of service he received. Arsenal were more willing to look for a cross first, rather than attempt a through pass, when near the box.
Any other approach simply wastes a player as proficient in the air as Giroud. With Bacary Sagna back in the team, Arsenal have the potential for quality delivery from both flanks.
Such an approach may seem like a culture shift for a footballing purist like Wenger. However, this is isn't entirely true.
When Wenger took over AS Monaco in 1987, he unleashed rugged target man Mark Hateley on opposing defenses. Wenger correctly surmised that French defenses wouldn't be used to such an overtly physical striker.
It's also worth remembering the closest Arsenal have come to winning the EPL title since 2004, was the 2007/08 campaign. That season it was Adebayor who dominated defenses with aerial power.
A revival of the same formula, can work wonders for Giroud and the Gunners this season.688091