Giroud should be one of the first names on Arsenal’s team sheet

Date published: Friday 20th January 2017 8:20 - Mark Scott

Olivier Giroud: Still big part of Arsenal's plans

Our latest Weekend Watch is focused on Premier League goalscorers, as Dave Tindall discusses those in form and those struggling to produce.

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Striking options

If you were given a £50 free bet to place on who will finish as this year’s Premier League Golden Boot winner, where would your money go?

The top scorers so far are: 14 Diego Costa, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Alexis Sanchez, 13 Harry Kane, 12, Jermain Defoe, Romelu Lukaku, 11 Sergio Aguero.

The best prices on each are 11/4 Ibrahimovic, 10/3 Kane, 9/2 Costa, 11/2 Aguero, 7/1 Sanchez, 16/1 Lukaku, 33/1 Defoe.

If current form helps you make your choice, here’s how many each has scored since mid-December: 6 Kane, 5 Ibrahimovic, 4 Defoe, 3 Lukaku, 2 Costa, 1 Aguero and a partridge in a pear tree.

One other deciding factor is how many minutes they average per goal. The list reads: 105 Kane, 112 Aguero, 120 Costa, 128 Sanchez, 129 Ibrahimovic, 145 Lukaku and 157 Defoe.

On current form and overall strike-rate, the smart money would be on Kane finishing top for the second season running. Agree?

Spurs to kill off City hopes?

Pep Guardiola: City now ten points behind leaders Chelsea

Two of the above strikers – Kane and Aguero – go head to head this weekend as Manchester City host Spurs. This used to be a fixture dominated by the Citizens and between May 2011 and May 2015 they won eight of the nine Premier League meetings.

That included a 6-0 demolition at the Etihad and a pair of 5-1 hammerings at White Hart Lane. However, since Mauricio Pochettino arrived at Tottenham, he’s completely altered the balance of power.

Spurs did the double over City last season (4-1 and 2-1) and dominated them again in a 2-0 home victory back in October. Pep Guardiola’s men could pull level with Spurs on 45 points if they win but a victory for the visitors and City will be six behind Tottenham and 13 off the pace if Chelsea beat Hull.

That would surely be game over in the title race but what about top four? Would another setback put City’s hopes of even grabbing a Champions League spot in serious jeopardy or can we still expect a late-season surge?

Giroud the secret weapon

Olivier Giroud: Rescues dramatic point

As mentioned earlier, the most prolific marksman in the top scorers list in terms of Premier League goals per minute is Harry Kane. Given that he bags one every 105 minutes, Kane would blast home 33 Premier League goals (32.57 to be precise if you want to do the math i.e. 38×90 / 105) if he played every minute of this season.

However, over at Tottenham’s North London rivals there’s a striker averaging a goal every 71 minutes. Not Alexis Sanchez but Olivier Giroud.

The Frenchman has scored in his last four Premier League games and has actually netted in each of his last nine starts for the Gunners in all competitions.

At his current rate, he’d bag 48 Premier League goals if playing every game this season and that’s the sort of absurd levels that only Messi and Ronaldo aspire to.

So, Arsene Wenger, if you want to keep winning or at least avoiding defeat (Arsenal are unbeaten when Giroud has scored), should the French striker be one of the first names on your team sheet for the weekend’s home game v Burnley and, indeed, every fixture in the foreseeable future?

Red alert

Bearing in mind this week’s ‘Weekend Watch’ revolves around strikers, who is the odd team out in the current top six – Chelsea, Spurs, Liverpool, Arsenal, Man City or Man Utd?

The answer, from a striker’s perspective, is Liverpool as they’re the only ones without a goalscorer in double figures this season.

Watching Daniel Sturridge and Divock Origi toil away in the FA Cup replay at Plymouth highlighted the fact that the Reds don’t have a main man up front.

Sturridge has just two Premier League goals and six in all comps while Origi has seven altogether. Of course, neither are first choice but that’s part of the problem, if it can be called that.

Although the fact that the Merseysiders spread the goals around can be viewed as a positive, would a 25-30 goal-a-season striker (proving he was mobile and fitted into Jurgen Klopp’s system) be the missing piece in the jigsaw and the one who could fire them to Premier League glory?

Klopp had Robert Lewandowski when he won his second title with Dortmund (the Pole scored 22 that season and 24 the next when they were runners-up) so does the German need to put a prolific goal-getter on his shopping list?

Firing blanks

Jamie Vardy: Will sit out until new year

To complete this week’s theme, let’s look at what happens when a striker goes cold. As noted, this year’s Golden Boot race is currently tied with three players – Costa, Ibrahimovic and Sanchez – all on 14 goals.

Last season, Jamie Vardy had scored 15 Premier League goals before Christmas! He eventually finished on 24, just one behind winner Kane. In the current campaign, Vardy has just five and that includes a hat-trick against Man City.

He’s netted in just three of Leicester’s 21 Premier League games and the drying up of the England striker’s goals has had a horrible effect.

Right now, they sit 15th after 21 matches; last season their 21st Premier League was a 1-0 win at Spurs that put them joint top. Of course, it’s not all down to Vardy but if your main striker starts firing blanks then trouble looms. For all the other important stuff, it’s goals that win matches.

In fact, Sunderland fans must ask themselves every week where they’d be without Jermain Defoe. There’s no need to answer that one.

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Dave Tindall

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