The French striker has been relied on far too heavily at the Emirates in the last two years. The 27-year-old made a total of 51 appearances last term and could use a) competition b) cover and c) a player he can potentially combine with up front and Alexis Sanchez could provide all of that and more.
However, the Chilean’s arrival could mean Giroud has to work harder for his place up front and perhaps find a more limited access to starts in the first-team; but that could be a positive way of keeping the France international focused. Meanwhile, the potential arrival of Sanchez will mean Giroud can rest more and be used in more of a rotation system which will allow him to be physically sharp towards the end of the campaign.
Sanchez is a very different type of forward to Giroud which bodes well for the target man as the Barcelona trickster is equally capable of being a creative provider as well as a goal-scorer and he will undoubtedly create space for Giroud to operate in if they are deployed together in tandem.
The player I believe will most benefit from Sanchez's mooted arrival is the Gunners’ club-record signing. The Germany play-maker has taken a lot of criticism since his arrival but there is no doubt he is capable of being the most influential play-maker on the continent if he applies himself. What Ozil really thrived on at Real Madrid was the pace and movement of Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema ahead of him in the Spanish capital.
The types of positions both forwards would take up and the runs they would make were more dynamic than Giroud’s at Arsenal and the Gunners’ striker is also not exactly Usain Bolt either.
Ozil will likely glow with the chance to pick Sanchez out ahead of him and combine with him in and around the box. Sanchez’ movement, technical superiority to Giroud, pace and imagination will give Ozil a great outlet for his own creativity. Likewise, Sanchez can find a chemistry with the German and Ozil can improve Sanchez’s threat in front of goal.
Arsenal’s best player last season is close to being a ‘complete midfielder’ that especially likes to make bursting runs into the box. Ramsey capitalised last term on the space that defences left for him while they were marking Giroud, Ozil and Santi Cazorla ahead of him and Sanchez’s arrival will only create even more space for the Welsh ace to operate in.
When defenders are dragged out position to counter the threat of Sanchez (and Theo Walcott who will return from injury) Ramsey will be left with space to run into a, as we saw last term, if he is given any time and space he can devastate in a split second.
Arsenal missed the English winger last term. He had been the Gunners’ top scorer in 2012/13 and they missed more than just his goals and assists, they missed his danger through his pace. When the opposition see Walcott’s name on the team sheet, they know they are going to have to pull back their defensive line and it takes a lot of energy from the fullback especially to counter his threat from the ball over the top.
Walcott’s inclusion in the team creates space for Ozil, Cazorla, Giroud and, now possibly Sanchez too, as teams become stretched and overloaded. If Sanchez plays alongside Giroud, perhaps on the left of the forward trio, there will be more balance in the team that is not necessarily offered from Lukas Podolski or Cazorla.
When Samir Nasri used to play on that left flank and come inside off the flank, it really caused chaos for teams who couldn’t counter both the Frenchman and Walcott as well as a striker – it’s simply too much of a threat and I can see a situation where Sanchez could have a similar impact on Walcott. Even if Sanchez plays up front as a centre-forward, he can benefit the way Robin van Persie did from Walcott’s presence on the flank. Arsene Wenger has tried to use Gervinho, Podolski and Cazorla in that space but none of them have balanced out Walcott’s energy on the opposite flank and I think Sanchez could be the answer to that problem.
On which note, I think the German forward is going to be the one who feels the impact of a Sanchez move most detrimentally. Podolski struggled to get in the side as it is last term and even in his first season and it is clear that Wenger does not see him as a centre-forward at all and also has concerns over his effectiveness on the left flank and Sanchez’s arrival will only further limit his first team opportunities at the Emirates.