23 April 2013

Giroud's red card and three-game suspension upheld

Proving that the FA does not have sense enough to find its way out of an empty room, the official Arsenal website has announced that Giroud's three-game suspension has been upheld, leaving the striker out of our upcoming matches against Man U, QPR, and Wigan. While this is not a crisis, it is an insult. After all, Giroud's only mistake was in allowing his foot to roll over a balla ball that he was nearly in possession of, mind youas Fulham's Stanislav Manolev ran into said foot. I won't use the word travesty or injustice because that's a bit histrionic for the situation. It's an inconvenience and a dilemma.

Without Giroud, I guess we should throw on Podolski to see how he'll handle the more-central role, unless we're willing to tweak formation to play two strikers alongside each other. Maybe a Podolski-Walcott two-pronged attack will allow both to thrive. It's worth pondering. However, with Champions League qualification still hanging in the balance, it's not really the best time for experimentation, even with a newly coronated Prem champion potentially still basking in the glow of its own excellence and still dealing with a bit of hangover.

Giroud's foul was so slight, incidental, and inconsequential that I'm surprised it was anything more than a spot-kick or even a booking, much less a straight red. As it was, he had had little to no impact on the game, which, in his defense, is largely true of most of the players who played against Fulham. However, his inavailability for Sunday is significant as it means we'll have fewer attacking options available. Those who knock Giroud continue to misunderestimate him, as in they underestimate him in the wrong way. Put simply, he's not the focal point of our attack in the same way that Van Persie was, either by skill-set or demeanor. For better or for worse, Van Persie demanded the ball and insisted that others get out of the way. More often than not, this worked to our advantage last year because, let's face it, he's pretty good at scoring goals. By contrast, Giroud brings something different to the table, which makes him at times a maddening player, especially by contrast with the man he putatively replaced. There are times when he tries too hard to imitate Van Persie and in the process tries something too fanciful or complex for the situation. Then, there are times when he seems to go too far in the other direction, trying to make a too-too cute pass to a teammate so they can score. He's at his best when he can find that happy medium, shooting when appropriate and passing when apt. He seems to get caught ping-ponging between those two extremes as he struggles to find that balance or at least to swing more slowly like a pendulum so that the differences seem less stark.

If nothing else, the FA really should have remembered that it did overturn Kompany's red card against us in January and, in a sense, owed us one (not that I'd dare suggest that refs or the FA ever offer "make-up" calls. Never.). In a week that saw Suarez deliberately handle a ball and bite someone without getting sent off, it is just a bit harsh indeed to see Giroud serve a three-game suspension for allowing a defender to kick his own shin against Giroud's extended heel (which again was, it's worth remembering, touching the ball at the time).

Whichever way we slice it, his suspension makes our attack just a little thinner as we prepare to face Man U.  I'm more-angry that it nullifies my own suggestion that a bit of poetic justice might be on order if Giroud can score a few while we hold Van Persie goal-less. Yes, the fact that Man U has already clinched the Prem diminishes somewhat the intensity of the match, but we must still prepare for a difficult battle. Not having Giroud makes that preparation just a touch more complex.