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Arsenal Can Win The Title With Giroud

“People are too quick to accept conventional wisdom, because it sounds basically true and it tends to be reinforced by both their peers and opinion leaders, many of whom have never looked at whether the facts support the received wisdom. It’s a basic fact of life that many things “everybody knows” turn out to be wrong.” ― Jim Rogers

The above named Mr. Rogers is a renowned investor who made his fortune several times over by investing where others fear to tread. It may be ancient history but in 1973 Rogers and George Soros founded the Quantum Fund whose portfolio in the following 10 years gained 4200% while the S&P advanced about 47%. He is somewhat relevant to an Arsenal football blog because he is famous in 1992 for bucking the wisdom of the great and good in the English financial media by making a cool £1 billion betting against the British pound when it crashed out of the European Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM).

While I am not able to bet the farm as Rogers did in 1992, it is my contention that any objective review of the facts will refute the now conventional wisdom that Arsenal cannot win the 2016 title with Giroud as the main striker. The most notorious proponent of that viewpoint is a certain legendary striker, turned pundit who was very explicit:

“I think Giroud is doing extremely well. But can you win the league with him? I wouldn’t think so.
“He does a job, and he does it ever so well, but you can’t win the league.”

The backlash from making this very direct criticism of Giroud, particularly from Wenger and his teammates, have forced the legend and his fellow pundits to be a little more circumspect.

This may explain explain why another former Arsenal great, Martin Keown, on August 1st on TalkSport, took a more roundabout way of “dissing” the Frenchman by using his non-selection in one game to conclude that:

“ If you’re not the champions and your striker, Olivier Giroud, didn’t start the FA Cup final last season, there are question marks over that position and maybe they need to be addressed…. “Why not go for Karim Benzema to play down the middle.”

Nick Miller, an ESPN hack, resorted to innuendo, by suggesting that Lord Harris, “the £200 million-man”, was speaking for the manager when he said “We get a list of the players that Wenger wants. On the list is a centre-forward, but I’m not going to tell you who he is.” Miller was thus able to leap to the stunning conclusion that:

“It isn’t much of a stretch to say this is a tacit admission that Wenger also believes he can do better, that Giroud is a fine striker but not quite good enough to help Arsenal win the league.”

Apart from outright belittling the man who is currently Arsenal’s main striker, throughout the off-season there was/has been a growing clamor for the signing of Karim Benzema, who, whether one admits it or not, is a like-for-like replacement.This led to the spectacle in late July of near hysteria on Twitter with almost all the pro-Arsenal accounts convinced of the imminent signing of the Madridista. This was based solely on an Instagram posting by the player of pictures of himself on a private jet with the message “Leave the past to the past. #directionfuture.”

Doesn’t it say something about the dangers of conventional wisdom when the fanbase so easily falls for a blatant rumor even though there were ample reasons to be skeptical, e.g. at the time Benzema was still with Real Madrid on their pre-season tour in Shanghai…not on his way to London? Doesn’t it say a lot about their belief or lack of in Giroud as the main striker?

But is the wisdom of our media appointed “opinion-leaders” and the herd who hang unto their every utterance supported by the facts? To answer the question I thought it would be useful to research the past 11 years since Arsenal last won the Premier League to see if there is any evidence to support the thesis that for a club to win the title it needs a dominant striker.

SEASON CHAMPION TOP GS GOALS RANKING
04-05 Chelsea Lampard 13 4
05-06 Chelsea Lampard 16 4
06-07 Man Utd Ronaldo 17 3
07-08 Man Utd Ronaldo 31 1
08-09 Man Utd Ronaldo 18 3
09-10 Chelsea Drogba 29 1
10-11 Man Utd Berbatov 20 1
11-12 Man City Aguero 23 3
12-13 Man Utd Van Persie 26 1
13-14 Man City Aguero 17 4
14-15 Chelsea Costa 20 3

The data above speaks for itself.  There were only four occasions, i.e. 36% of the time, when the league’s top goal-scorer was from the winning team. In contrast, 64% of the time the winning team in the league did not have the the top-striker. What struck me, in particular, was that in at least three out of the 11 seasons, the top striker from the winning team was ranked as low as 4th in the league’s Top Goal Scorers. The amazing thing is Chelsea secured back-to-back titles between 2004/5 and 06 with their top goal-scorer being Frank Lampard, registering only 13 and 16 goals in successive years. Their most productive strikers in those years, Gudjohnson and Drogba respectively, finished with 12 goals each. They both make Giroud’s 14 goals in 21 games last year look Messi-esque.

Despite such a miserly contribution from its strikers, Chelsea was able to rack up the 1st and 3rd highest number of points in Premier League history, 95 and 91 respectively. They won the league, not by goal scoring, but by having the meanest possible defense, conceding only 15 goals in 2004-05, an amazing 0.39 goal per game.

Similarly, while Manchester United may have a reputation for being swashbuckling goal-scorers, in two out of their five title-winning campaigns over the 11-year period, their top goal scorer was ranked as low as 3rd in the league. In 06-07 Ronaldo only scored 17 goals. For the next two titles they won 07-08 and 08-09, United simply did a Chelsea, locking down on defense, conceding a miserly 22 and 24 goals respectively, ranking them 2nd and 3rd in the Goals Against department in the entire history of the Premier League.

In summary, since Arsenal last won the title, the top goal-scorer from champion team was ranked an average of 3rd in the league with a median average of 20 goals per season. The range was a low of 13 and a high of 31.

Based on this routine analysis it is self-evident that the constant demeaning at Giroud and the belief that if only Arsenal had a “world-class” striker they would surely win the league is not supported by the facts. To the contrary, the data is shouting at us that restricting the scoring of goals by the opposition is the key to success. Hopefully this is evident from the following table:

11YR MEAN AFC-2015 AFC-2016
W 27 22 ?
D 6 9 ?
L 4 7 ?
GF 83 71 83
GA 29 36 26
GD 54 35 57
PTS 88 71 ?

In contrast to the 11 year average of 83 Goals For and 29 Against to win the title, in the 2014-15 Arsenal finished with 71 and 36 respectively, a difference of 12 and 8. By doing this analysis I stumbled on how the Wenger came to the conclusion that the team need for 10-12 more goals to win the title as stated at his press conference before the Emirates Cup:

“What we want is some more goals from some players who are not really strikers and that was our strength traditionally. Our offensive and creative players scored 10 to 12 goals, that’s what you need.”

He has made it clear that he is not dependent on Giroud for more goals; he and Alexis did their part last season with 14 and 16 goals respectively, the only ones to make double figures in the league. Obviously they can and need to improve their goal-scoring but going forward, it will be up to the British Core (Theo, whose contract is now secured, Ramsey and Oxlade-Chamberlain) as well as Santi, and Ozil to do the business.What is lost in the noise of the transfer market (as the media fan the flames of clubs competing for big-money signings) is the importance of reducing the Goals Against column.

Unlike my earlier sentimentality towards Ospina and Szczesny, the manager has harbored no such idealism. Apparently in 2014 he made an inquiry for Cech and again this year. If Arsenal is to become even meaner in defensively, who is better than the man who was between the sticks for Chelsea in their most miserly years? Who’s better than the goal-tender who is described as obsessed with clean sheets?In stressing the importance of defending, at the same press conference, the manager was clear about not doing a Liverpool or City:

“Our target is to improve our number of goals but you as well have examples of teams who have scored 90 or 100 goals and have not won the championship. We want to combine good defensive efficiency with 10 more goals.
“In the second part of last season we only conceded 13 goals in 19 games. So we want to keep that and add a few more goals.”

Instead of depending on goalscoring the manager was moved to stress the importance of  defending and not conceding unnecessary goals. We hardly see or hear this discussed by the pundits who keep nattering on and on daily about signing another striker.

I was therefore very encouraged by what I saw vs Chelsea in the Community Shield. While it was good that Wenger broke the Mourinho streak, what was even better was the team’s commitment to defending our one goal lead.

I shall conclude by noting that over the past three years Wenger has been able to build a squad of top quality players especially after he could spend some money, developed a consistent way of playing, and finally forged consistency and cohesion especially in the spine. Similar to Ferguson and even that classless hypocrite Mourinho, that is ultimately the predictor of Arsenal again winning titles.

 

101 comments on “Arsenal Can Win The Title With Giroud

  1. Bummer for Jack, but he’s mentally tough – he’ll come through it, no problem.
    Chelsea have a serious striker problem – funny that the press are concentrating on Arsenal in this department when we have Giroud, Walcott, Welbeck and Sanchez.

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  2. Great read shottagooner. As always intelligent, concise and insightful. I like OG. I thinks one of his work and goals are spectacular. I also have always preferred to have goals being contributed from a handful of players than just one or two. I have a really good feeling in regards the next few seasons. I also think we could have made a move on Edan D. Always rated his artistry on the pitch. It’s a shame his career never really took offa t shitty.

    Hello everyone, hello george

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  3. Jack wouldn’t have played much to start with if Ramsey and Santi were fit, and September sees an International break anyhow. If he is back fully fit come late October then I don’t think it will do too much harm.
    Encouraging news about the Gnabster and I would like it if Joel Campbell might be persuaded to go on loan to someone like Villa.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. At least Roy Hodgson won’t be able to fuck him up on us.
    Jack should be fit and fresh after the Internationals and raring to get involved.

    It will be a constant worry that PL thugs will target his ankles forever, with refereeing impunity.

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  5. BREAKING NEWS: #SAFC have completed the loan signing of France international Yann M’Vila.
    Remember when the WOBs and company had him nailed on as Arsenal quality whom Wenger must sign. End up in in mid to low level club.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. so where is the l’ll mozart?

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  7. Arsène Wenger has revealed the latest team news ahead of Arsenal’s Premier League opener against West Ham United:
    on the team news…
    We have Welbeck on a progressive recovery and Rosicky on a progressive recovery.
    on Welbeck…
    He is not too far away, but he is not ready for Sunday.
    on Alexis…
    Alexis is back in training but I don’t think he will be involved on Sunday, it is a bit early maybe. We have to decide that at the end of the week, but I don’t think he will be involved.
    on Alexis training on the beach in Chile…
    Alex without running around is not Alex, you know. You can’t imagine him lying on the beach somewhere and not moving! He came back in good fitness shape so that is quite positive, but I am not surprised by that because I can’t imagine him lying around for four weeks and doing nothing. That wouldn’t be him.
    Copyright 2015 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to http://www.arsenal.com as the source

    Read more at http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/20150806/team-news-welbeck-rosicky-and-alexis#zFGsB050Ab33EGOW.99

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  8. Think there’s a presser within about 48 hours.
    I tend to find it’s best to wait for news on injuries till someone from the club speaks? In the meantime I have stuff to do!

    It’s all kicking off in the cricket.
    Blimey.

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  9. fins he done the presser this morning, I’ve put up the team news from it, and AW has talked about Jack having hairline fracture to his fibula and being out for weeks. Also he talked about the new contracts for Theo and Santi

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  10. some things never change

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  11. Late to the party but my word, Shotta’s got the Midas touch! Excellent, well researched article and equally insightful comments.
    There’s nothing much left to add than has already been written. There’s ample evidence to support the view that injuries, more than anything else, have hampered our assault on the premiership in the past. I can only hope that the squad stays fit and realises what we’ve always known was their potential.

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  12. Eddy
    There we go then. As long he can make it back and match fit in time for the Xmas crunch, preferably before, it’s all good.

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  13. Clearly it’s a loss as Jack was being played in preseason in order to get fit. But fortunately Cazorla and Ramsey are not bad cover.

    Haven’t seen the presser, did AW say:

    “I bet the only people who expected me to play Cazorla back at his old Villareal LM role straight after he signed his contract (I admit I thought it be take a little longer) were on P.A.”?

    The cheeky blighter.
    Just kidding. I’ve still no idea where Cazorla played last Sunday. Somewhere in midfield, vaguely towards the left, that will do for me. Ramsey was everywhere as usual. Özil doing that thing where he drifts to the wide areas when off the ball, predominantly the left as we’ve seen in the past. It was, exciting. Wasn’t it? My best guess is that the line up for Sunday will be the same with the switch at CF (OG has an excellent record against west ham).
    As for the future, they’ll all play in different areas at times and what the myopic ones don’t realise is that this is what will keep them happy. Last week Cazorla played in midfield then at AM I think after Özil went off.
    He missed a good chance but I’m taking that as a good omen: not just because it was fitting to beat the Busmen with that famous score line, nor because it was the first time they’d been out-bused (0-0 two seasons ago where the Mike Dean charity took pity on the petro-club). Last season Santi scored from open play in the super cup against City, and then never again! Hopefully that miss reversed the curse.

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  14. Krystian BieIik trained with the first team today.

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  15. glad rosicky is back… he was missed

    Liked by 1 person

  16. The strangest thing for me about this conventional wisdom that Arsenal need an irresistible striker to fire us to the title, is that not long ago the conventional wisdom was the complete opposite. “Goals win games, defences win championships” was something I heard more than a few times. Yet as soon as we have a full roster of eight top defenders and a world renowned goalkeeper, talk of defence has been pushed aside and suddenly it’s your strike force that’s all important. The goalposts have been moved out of our reach once again…

    As for where our goals will come from, we have a squad full of goalscorers – aside from Giroud we have perhaps the two most prolific wide men in the league in Alexis and Theo, and the highest scoring midfielder in Ramsey. Can any of our title rivals boast four players who are as reliable at putting it in the net? We’ve also seen glimpses of the potential of more goals from Ozil, Chamberlain, Welbeck and Wilshere. Jack was banging them in for fun at the end of last season and Welbeck is the current top scorer in the European Championship qualifiers, while Ozil and Chamberlain have been finishing very well in pre-season. There’s absolutely no shortage of goals in the squad as it is.

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  17. Sam ‏@samuelJayC 1h1 hour ago
    West Ham go out of the @EuropaLeague. Slaven Bilić rested an entire XI ahead of trip to Arsenal on Sunday.

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  18. Alabama Gooner (Kelly) has sensibly pointed out that Jack has not in fact damaged his ankle, it’s his fibula – which to the uneducated like me is his calf bone.

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  19. New striker?
    Arsenal ended up with only scoring 2 less goals in the league than Chelsea.
    Despite having Giroud, Theo, Welbeck, Özil, Jack, Rosicky, and Ramsey out for considerable periods of time.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. the afc team that played the first league game of last season

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  21. So DeGea is being dropped by United because he is unsettled. Van Gaal needs two new signings: “Continuity and Cohesion”.

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  22. Wenger confirmed today that Gnabry had a medical at WBA yesterday and that his loan deal should be announced later today. It will make it 9 player out on loan, 6 of whom are attacking players – Toral, Maitland-Niles, Crowley, Gnabry, Sanogo, Akpom

    Liked by 1 person

  23. That’s great Georgaki! 2 – 1 average score in my lifetime. Sounds about right.

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  24. 2-1 in my lifetime too with a 67 % rating overall

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  25. If they win every game 2-1 this season to maintain the average, I won’t be complaining.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Shame that the start of PL tomorrow may overshadow the winning of the Ashes.
    I’m not normally a flag waver, but there is something in the blood about beating the Aussies.

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  27. Perfect timing – win the Ashes in the morning, watch our rivals drop first points in the afternoon. Textbook.

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  28. so does anyone think that Joel Campbell will stay and play for Arsenal this season.

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  29. Rejoice rejoice the day is here. Well not quite for us but you get my meaning.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Anyone else wish Thierry Henry would STFU?
    He was a great player but now he’s beginning to sound like a moron.
    And who wants a moron managing their club?
    You can kiss that prospect goodbye, Titi.

    Liked by 2 people

  31. Don’t always understand with the arseblogger’s thoughts on the football or his humour but he can be funny. The start to the latest Arsecast is a good ‘un.

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  32. Team spirit counts for a lot. Many people talk about it, some are lucky enough to experience it, only a few know how to create it. Having just watched the English cricket team complete an unexpected and surprisingly comfortable Ashes win, it seems appropriate to cast the mind back and remember the previous Ashes humiliation just 18 months ago. A slightly creaky and aging side, under the captaincy of a young but experienced Alastair Cook were blown away by the ferocity of the Australian attack. Having started the series as favourites, English left the field humiliated, the 5 – Nil series loss an accurate reflection of the gap between the sides. They were an unhappy camp and stories soon emerged of dressing room strife: the England players might have all been wearing the three lions, but it seemed apparent that they were hardly even playing for themselves, let alone each other or the nation they were so dismally representing.
    Only a few will know the absolute truth of the situation, but the most high-profile casualty was Kevin Petersen. England’s most talented and talismanic batsman was deemed surplus to requirements, accused of fostering resentment and disloyalty, and summarily axed from the team. Battle lines were quickly drawn: on the one hand the vox populi, aghast and enraged that the one player with skill, courage and box-office appeal had been cast aside; on the other the establishment figures, anxious to start again with a new set of young players, and unashamedly placing their trust in Cook. It wasn’t an easy time, with every subsequent English reverse (and there were plenty) greeted with calls for Cook’s head and Pietersen’s reinstatement. The easiest way for any media figure to ensure popular support was to publically back Pietersen, and there was no shortage of pundits, both amateur and professional, eager to do just that. On the face of things it was absurd that Pietersen remained out of favour, and the easy and simple logicians of the talk-show hosts and listeners couldn’t get their heads round it. On what possible grounds could he remain excluded?

    And yet, watching the happy faces of the young England players enjoying the freedom of Nottingham and all Englahd this morning, it is tempting to think that out of the ashes of that terrible recent series has emerged a new team that is genuinely pulling together, and that the sum of their parts is very much greater than any individual brilliance they may possess. They have stuck together when it was difficult, supported each other in victory and defeat, and gained collective strength from their various abilities. The result has been stunning, but has not come easily: it would have been all too simple for captain and coach to bow to the wright of public opinion, and it perhaps took the iron will of Andrew Strauss, arguably England’s most successful ever captain, to ensure that there was no wavering when the finishing line was in sight.

    But what relevance does this have to an Arsenal site on the dawn of a new season? Plenty I would suggest, as it seems to me that the most impressive aspect of the pre-season programme has been the genuine pleasure the players seem to be taking in their collective spirit. They appear happy in each other’s company, trusting in each other’s ability, and confident that their own individual contributions will be valued and cherished. It has been exciting to watch them and I sense they are on the cusp of real success. And who is responsible for all of this? The players themselves, of course, but also captain and coach. It only takes one powerful figure in the dressing room to cause disruption, to place individual need before collective responsibility for team spirit to be threatened. Only dressing room insiders can know, and sometimes a talented player sold can be just as important as a new one bought in the transfer market. And sometimes selling a player (or not buying one who is known to those in the know to be awkward) can be hard, especially as the court of public opinion will soon be in full swing if results take a momentary downturn. It is probably not a total coincidence that many of Petersen’s most staunch supporters have also been among Arsene Wenger’s most vociferous critics. Sometimes what is most seemingly obvious is not necessarily the right answer: less can be more, and as this season unfolds I feel certain that it will be those clubs who have the best spirit who will do the best. I like to think that the current Arsenal side is particularly well–served in that respect.

    Liked by 5 people

  33. the U19’s kick off at 2 in the final in Durban

    Huddart(GK),Eyoma,Bola,Pleguezuelo, O’Connor(C),Tutu, Zealem,Mourgos, Sheaf, Hindis,Fortune

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  34. Foreverheady@12:48 pm -Spot on. Is the management around? This could be today’s microblog.

    Liked by 2 people

  35. Dickhead Piers Morgan getting grief today on this tweet on 3 June:

    “Alastair Cook thinks his current KP-less England team will regain the Ashes this summer.
    In other news, I will be elected Pope in August.”

    Even the Guardian MBM has got in on the act.

    Liked by 1 person

  36. edu – have you got any stream details for the U19’s?

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  37. can’t find a stream

    zelalem had a penalty saved

    sheaf gives afc the lead

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  38. Hayden,Akpom,Toral,Maitland-Niles and Crowley start their respective games

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  39. HT Arsenal leade 1-0,

    Ben Sheaf’s goal

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  40. Dan Crowley with an assist on his competitive debut for Barnsley

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  41. 65 minutes U19’s 1-1

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  42. 90 minutes Fortune gives AFC the lead

    Liked by 1 person

  43. FT: Arsenal U19’s 2-1 PSV

    the winning goal

    Liked by 1 person

  44. Toral has scored for Brum

    Liked by 1 person

  45. Fortune has smiled on the loanees thus far.

    Liked by 1 person

  46. Tim, you should have posted your comment a a blog.

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  47. akpom with his first league goal

    Liked by 2 people

  48. Sorry George. Thought it wasn’t about football enough and suspected we would have a proper preview soon anyway.

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