Both of the strikers scored in Arsenal's 2-0 win against Stoke at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday, but it is the England international who should start at Stamford Bridge
COMMENT By Greg Stobart at Emirates Stadium
After a summer of talk about the need to sign a top quality forward, Arsene Wenger’s two main central strikers made a point to their manager as they both scored in the Gunners’ comfortable win over Stoke.
Theo Walcott raced through to score the opener in the 31st minute as Arsenal finally scored their first home goal of the season and substitute Olivier Giroud, booed by France fans during the international break, sealed the points with a close-range header five minutes from time.
In between, the hosts missed countless chances to extend the scoreline. They finished the game with 29 shots to their name and could easily have scored five or six had it not been for Jack Butland’s stunning form in the Stoke goal.
So it cannot be said that Arsenal have solved all of their problems in the final third. After all, they won’t be able to miss so many glorious chances every week.
Walcott shinned over the bar in the first-half and was denied by Butland when he tried a chip when one-on-one in after the break, while Giroud looked like his confidence was shot to pieces when he dragged an incredible chance wide of the post from eight yards.
But this was exactly the performance Arsenal needed as they prepare for a trip to Chelsea next weekend with the champions in turmoil after back-to-back defeats.
If they play the same way next Saturday at Stamford Bridge, they could pile even more pressure on Jose Mourinho and his players.
Wenger might be tempted to recall Giroud for the trip across London after his goal on Saturday. The Frenchman is likely to spend most of the season as Arsenal’s main striker and his fragile confidence needs to be massaged.
Walcott, however, showed against Stoke that he is the man to start at Chelsea as he constantly troubled the Potters defence with his pace and movement.
The opening goal summed it up. Arsenal won possession in their own half, Mesut Ozil spotted Walcott’s run and played a gorgeous 50-yard pass over the top of the visitors’ defence.
Walcott had the speed to get away, the strength to protect the ball and the composure to slot coolly through Butland’s legs.
Giroud has the quality to go on a scoring run but so does Walcott, who has now scored 11 times in his last 11 Premier League starts.
He is also the better striker to bring the best out of Ozil’s astonishing eye for a pass that can unlock a defence in even the tightest of games. Walcott will relish the opportunity to get one-on-one with John Terry or Gary Cahill in a straight leg race.
Arsenal now have 10 points from their five matches so far and a start to the season described as “very average” by Wenger now looks far better, particularly in light of Chelsea’s struggles.
A rare win at Stamford Bridge would do wonders for the mood of Arsenal supporters who are pessimistic about their side’s title hopes.
They need to repeat this display - and Walcott has to lead the line.