Before Arsenal signed Danny Welbeck, Olivier Giroud’s injury left French striker Yaya Sanogo as Arsenal’s leading centre-forward. In 10 appearances the 21-year-old striker has yet to open his account for the London club, but on Thursday, he showed for the France under-21s he showed that he is capable of hitting the back-of-the-net.
In 210 minutes of Premier League action, Yanogo remains goalless, but it took him only 50 minutes against Kazakhstan to open his account for the season, then another three minutes to add his second. However, this does not signal that Sanogo is the next-big-thing in French football. How many Arsenal fans will use this in their argument to back-up Sanogo’s abilities, perhaps without actually watching his performance?
The goals were the first Sanogo has scored for France since the Under-20 World Cup in Turkey. He opened the scoring as France beat Uzbekistan 4-0 in the quarter-finals of the tournament. Thursday was only his third game at under-21 level, so it has hard to be critical.
His performance was far from spectacular. Sanogo’s role was similar to the one he played for the under-20s. He leads the line, runs the channels and opens up the space for the two wingers to dazzle and create. It’s not spectacular, it’s almost forgettable at times, but it is effective.
Florian Thauvin and Kingsley Coman were the more impressive members of the France frontline, but Sanogo’s role is still important. All his hard work paid off after 50 minutes when Thauvin created some space down the right-flank. The Marseille man cut the ball back and all Sanogo had to do was tuck the ball into the far corner. That made it 4-1 to France and put the game beyond the home side.
Then three minutes later he was handed his second on a plate. The Kazakhstan goalkeeper rushed out to clear the ball, made a hash of it, leaving Sanogo the empty net. The angle was still tough, but the striker showed decent composure to apply the finish, at 5-1 the game was over.
Sanogo was replaced by Monaco forward Anthony Martial on 62 minutes and his work was done. It may not have been a spectacular headline grabbing performance, or even one anyone will remember in a few months, but the important thing for the player will be the confidence scoring twice will give him.
Since his move from Auxerre, the forward has shown some excellent moments, before frustrating with the wrong decision. Goals and games for France is exactly what Sanogo and Arsenal need at this stage in his career.