Not many people knew Yaya Sanogo when he joined in the Summer, and the small amount of fans who knew him probably turned their backs on him after his 5th month of injury. However in just 2 games, Yaya has shown good quality and has gone from not being considered as a senior Striker, to fans wanting him to start ahead of Giroud in every remaining game. A remarkable achievement when you consider the magnitude of the games he started in and his lack of fitness/experience.
Sanogo’s 1st start for Arsenal was an FA Cup 5th round tie against a team that had just beaten us 5-1 a week previous, and he was up against 2 of the roughest centre backs around. Yaya was heavily involved in the 1st goal with Chamberlain bundling in the rebound after Sanogo’s shot was blocked following good chest control. The 2nd goal he also played a big part in as well, challenging in the air for a goal kick that fell to Jenkinson who passed to Chamberlain who slid the ball across to Podolski to plant home after a nice give and go with Ozil. The primary job of a Striker is to score but failing that they must create goals or openings for others which Yaya did very effectively.
Sanogo’s 2nd start wasn’t exactly easier, a 1st leg knock out tie to the Treble winning European Champions. This performance showed more of Yaya’s individual ability rather than collective contribution which is highly understandable given the circumstances. Early on he had a shot well saved by Neuer and provided a moment of pure quality, coming back into midfield to rob Bayern of possession, shuffling the ball between 2 players on the turn and playing a wonderful pass that Alaba did well to touch back to Neuer. This is exactly what Sanogo brings to the team, that individual skill and ability that Giroud doesn’t seem to have, as well as the relentless pressing his freshness brought.
The timing of Sanogo’s return could not be better as the many games Giroud has played are catching up with him and all the allegations of his hotel antics seem to have him distracted. It must be said that in those 2 games without Giroud the team has played with a directness and pace that has been missing since Walcott’s injury. This will only benefit us because recently we started games slowly but we came flying out of the traps against Bayern and pinned them back for around 15 minutes. This puts us onto a good path given our coming fixtures because a quick start will be vital against Chelsea and Man City if we are to avoid defeat.
The teams recent approach is also highly beneficial for Ozil because he thrives off of runners and pace, which we had none of in recent weeks besides himself. Southampton away was the biggest example where he ran 60 yards past 3 players and nearly scored meanwhile others were jogging up the pitch. Ozil, who I feel is being criticised far too harshly, is who we need to build around. His is the world star in our team and until more are signed/emerge he is the man we must turn to as our example. He obviously will need help because he prefers do operate in the shadows feeding the goal scorer so Ox’s recent form and a raring to go Podolski could see Ozil help us over the line in terms of trophies.
Finishing with Sanogo, it is clear that he is brilliant physically. He is our 3rd tallest player behind Mertesacker & Szczesny, he has pace, strength, good hold up play and is great in the air yet if it was up to us fans we would have all spent £25m on Benteke last month. All Benteke has over Sanogo is better finishing (not that we’ve seen much of Sanogo’s shooting ability) and Premier League experience. Benteke may have struggled to settle if we signed him given the price tag & step up in quality meaning we might have failed to achieve our targets this season anyway and possibly have more deadwood. In 2 years Sanogo could be as good as him and he would prove to be another master stroke by Wenger signing him on a free. When the teams were announced against Bayern, from what I heard Sanogo received the biggest cheer from the fans which is funny given how a week ago he was a laughing stock. Wenger signs players for a reason, some work out and some don’t but he is proven right 80% of the time and has been again by Sanogo who has pushed Bendtner into the reserves and looks to have a promising career ahead of him.
Photo by Kieran Clarke