With a hard-fought victory over West Brom, Arsenal have shown that they are capable of mixing it with the physical teams and can grind out a win. Tony Pullis has a reputation for creating teams with a consistent first eleven that are well drilled in defending against skilful players, are able to instigate a counter attack through long balls and look to physically dominate the opposition. Not the sort of team manager Arsene Wenger would have chosen as their Boxing Day opposition after a run that saw The Gunners amass just one point from the past three fixtures.
Giroud a super-sub?
The way in which Olivier Giroud managed to outmuscle defender Gareth McAuley to head home the games’ only goal and rescue the festive period for all Arsenal fans epitomised the kind of fight Arsenal are going to need if they have any hope of catching league leaders Chelsea. There were a number of frustrated noises coming from the Arsenal faithful inside the Emirates as the players huffed and puffed. It looked like it would be a disappointing final game of 2016 and first start of the season for Giroud. That the team looked less incisive with Alexis Sanchez moved to the flanks in order to accommodate Giroud does not bode well for the Frenchman and his hopes of being given a place in the starting eleven again. Wenger is clearly a fan of his compatriot, but Arsenal just seem to generate more penetrating threat when he’s not up top. Giroud still has a great deal to offer as an Arsenal player, as his fight, aerial ability and layoffs give the team a plan B when things aren’t quite sparking or the opposition defence is well drilled and needs something else to think about. At 30 years-old and with 16 Premier League goals to his name last season, Giroud might not be particularly happy about being a plan B, but as these two players proved, you can still become quite some player when you regularly emerge from the bench.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Considered the Premier League’s ultimate super-sub, Solskjaer scored 29 of his 126 United goals after coming on from the bench. The Baby-faced Assassin played 366 times for Manchester United during their glory days and was unlucky not to get a regular starting place as Sir Alex Ferguson found success with a number of different striking partnerships. His defining moment came in the 1999 UEFA Champions League Final, where he appeared in injury time to score the winning goal against Bayern Munich and make himself a United legend.
Dzeko is a player that never accepted the role of super-sub, but nevertheless excelled in the part and will always be remembered fondly by Manchester City fans. It’s not hard to understand why the Bosnian wasn’t happy to play from the bench, as not many players have scored a perfect hat-trick in the Premier League but with City able to afford the likes of Carlos Tevez and Sergio Aguero it was the role he was given. He’s still an accomplished scorer of goals for Roma and fans of live betting here might like to first see if he’s on the bench and then wager that he’ll be on the score sheet soon. City fans will never forget that it was Dzeko’s 92nd-minute goal that levelled the score against Queens Park Rangers and allowed Aguero to make a Premier League chronicle for the ages.