Arsenal badly need a recognised striker
Arsenal already possess two imposing forwards in the shape of Olivier Giroud and Yaya Sanogo, but neither man looks capable of carrying the side forward to the next level. The much-maligned Giroud endured a mediocre evening at best against Besiktas. He squandered an obvious chance to give his side the lead before half-time in a generally laborious performance. Arsenal have already shed Nicklas Bendtner, but there is nothing that remains at the club to truly inspire the supporters.
Compare the movement and threat of the Besiktas forward Demba Ba to Giroud, and you get the picture. Arsenal failed to score an away goal partly because of Giroud's mobility. For a man with 101 appearances for the club, Giroud is hardly a cult hero. Fellow Frenchman Thierry Henry would have offered as much last night in his present state.
Far from a fans' favourite, many Arsenal diehards made their feelings known about the efforts of the lumbering French forward on social media. Where else these days, you might say.
— Wilshere's Left Foot (@YoannArsenal) August 19, 2014
THE WORSE PERFORMANCE IVE EVER SEEN FROM A FORWARD IN MY LIFE. @_OlivierGiroud_
— Poets Corner (@PoetsCornerUK) August 19, 2014
Olivier Giroud summed up in a single snapshot. pic.twitter.com/3X00OfFyhg
— Gooner & Weltmeister (@CrazyGooner007) August 19, 2014
The time has probably come to recruit a reliable forward in the best traditions of the Arsenal jersey. They have been linked with a move for Napoli forward Eduardo Vargas. A forward with pedigree and pace is certainly needed with obvious urgency. Time to dust down the cheque book.
Slaven Bilic must surely land a Premier League job soon
One of the curious things about football is where some blokes end up. You would have thought Slaven Bilic would have touched in the Premier League as a coach having represented Everton and West Ham as a player and Croatia, Lokomotiv Moscow and Besiktas as a manger.
For some reason, the imposing Bilic has yet to be handed an elite concern in England despite claiming to have thrown out a few offers. It is surely just a matter of time. He seemed to kick every ball on the touchline last night. And was rewarded by a worthwhile performance by Besiktas, who merited a handy enough 0-0 scoreline. Could be found sporting a formidable beard that must go down well with the locals in Istanbul, and wound up getting sent off late on for barking too much at the referee. Again, conduct that goes down well with the locals.
Bilic says Besiktas will come to London to knock Arsenal out rather than be tourists in next week's second leg at the Emirates. And why not? There was enough to glean from the first leg that suggests it is far from an impossible task.
Aaron Ramsey must cut out the needless immaturity
Arsenal must do without Aaron Ramsey for the second leg after he was sent off for a couple of needless fouls. Arsene Wenger bemoaned Ramsey's red card, but he had to walk by the letter of the law. You can't go around pulling guys back.
His goal threat is going to be an obvious miss. Didn't need to commit the fouls, and his absence will not exactly help the home side in their quest to progress. Why? Refer back to the first point we noticed above about Giroud and his wares.
Calum Chambers is going to play for his country this season
Like Manchester United full-back Luke Shaw, Chambers resembles a steady thirtysomething rather than a teenager. Made one error when he misjudged the flight of the ball, but wasn't punished as Ba drove the ball wide of goal when it looked easier to score. Chambers is a class act at the age of 19, and is English. He looks ripe to occupy a central defensive berth at Arsenal for the time being. It will be interesting to see what else he can offer because a midfield role will be an option one suspects. A full international cap will surely wing its way to Chambers if he keeps this up.
Alexis Sanchez is still finding his feet, but so are Arsenal
Sanchez was far from bad, but the former Barcelona player seems to be playing on his own out wide and was replaced by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain with 20 minutes or so to go. 'The Ox' was full of menace, and saw an effort tipped onto a post that might have won it for the visitors. Quite odd, but after the 3-0 Community Shield win over Manchester City, Arsenal look well below their best. Which tells you how much effort City put into that particular match.
It is also a slight concern when you consider Ramsey is suspended for the second leg after Mikel Arteta hobbled off injured with an ankle problem. Jack Wilshere has yet to step up to the plate, as demanded by Wenger, but neither has Santi Cazorla. Arsenal will need to do better than this at the Emirates to make the group stage for a 17th straight season. This match has plenty of life in it yet. Particularly if they are relying on Giroud to discover the key to riches.
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- Olivier Giroud
- Slaven Bilic