Arsenal 2 Southampton 0: Olivier Giroud among the last of a dying breed, claims Arsene Wenger

The Frenchman was on target twice in the victory over Southampton

Football Editor

It was the most unexpected of laments. “Where,” asked Arsène Wenger, “are the Tommy Lawtons, Nat Lofthouses and Frank Stapletons of long ago?”

The Arsenal manager did not use those words exactly, but they were his thoughts as he indicated Olivier Giroud’s value to Arsenal lay not just in his goals but in the lack of alternative centre-forwards should he need replacing.

Giroud has already scored 10 goals this season after Saturday’s two strikes against Southampton that stretched Arsenal’s Premier League lead to four points, but continues to be belittled by speculation that in January Wenger will try to buy another striker.  

If he does, hinted Wenger, it would be to complement rather than supplant Giroud, because such replacements either do not exist, or cost in excess of £50m.

“All the big strikers now come from South America, not Europe. Even Germany, which is producing fantastic players, has no strikers coming through. Maybe it is a consequence of the way we coach them, or of modern life. I don’t know.”

Wenger elaborated: “If you look back to the 1960s and 70s and look at the strikers who were good in the air and English, there was one in every single club. And tell me now today have you the same number? I’m not even talking about quality, have you even the same number who go in for crosses, go in the air?”

There are a few, but nothing like the number there was when Lawton and Lofthouse terrorised goalkeepers either side of the Second World War, or even when Stapleton was heading them in at 1970s Highbury. The pick of the bunch are perhaps Ricky Lambert, anonymous against Arsenal on Saturday, and aged 31, Peter Crouch, who is a year older, and the perpetually injured Andy Carroll.

Wenger mentioned South Americans Radamel Falcao, Edinson Cavani, Luis Suarez and Gonzalo Higuain, the last two of whom he tried to buy in the summer. Suarez seems the odd one out in that list but Wenger highlighted the way he uses his body like the barnstorming centre-forwards of yore.

“In the 1950s [because of the pitches] you had to lift the ball and bump it forward and you needed somebody who fights for the ball. Today we educate players to play more on the ground. Maybe we pay a bit of a price for this: less people who are ready to go for that kind of ball. There is still a place for the No 9, for people who go behind the defenders in the air or on the ground. Are people ready to body-challenge? Players like Suarez, who use their bodies like to go for the impossible ball, you’ll not find many strikers who do that.

“In Africa there used to be this type of player. I discovered George Weah, we had Emmanuel Adebayor, there was Didier Drogba. Maybe because they are educated on bad pitches, but there are less there now.”

Giroud’s physical strength counted when he brushed aside Artur Boruc as the goalkeeper spun himself like a top, all twists, turns and shimmies, instead of simply clearing a back pass. Having poked the ball away from the gormless goalie and into the net, Giroud later added a second from the spot.

“I like Giroud’s play,” added Wenger. “Maybe he is different to the rest of the team but he gives us so much with his physical presence and his link play. He is dangerous in every single game.”

If there was an irony in Southampton, the league’s arch exponents of a high press, being beaten because their goalkeeper was closed down, Mauricio Pochettino was not dwelling on it. He paid credit to his players for the character they showed after the setback – with seven players beaten 6-1 at the Emirates last season they might easily have crumbled – and emphasised his support for Boruc.

“It was completely unexpected that this would happen and we have to take it on the chin,” said the Southampton manager. “We’re angry about what happened, but at the same time I am happy and pleased with the way we reacted. Boruc didn’t hide, he just kept on wanting the ball and played well actually.”

Such was Boruc’s sang-froid he later posted photos on Instagram comparing his Cruyff turn to the real thing.

News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Sport
New Real Madrid signing James Rodríguez with club president Florentino Perez
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Travel
Hotel Tour d’Auvergne in Paris launches pay-what-you-want
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Life and Style
News to me: family events were recorded in the personal columns
techFamily events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped that
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn