France international, Olivier Giroud was sent off by Andre Marriner late in Arsenal’s crucial 1-0 win over Fulham at the weekend, having been shown red for stamping on defender Stanislav Manolev. An appeal was launched to overturn the ban after Wenger claimed that the striker had slipped while tackling the Fulham player.
However, the FA did not buy that explanation and rejected the appeal, meaning the 26-year-old will miss the Gunner’s next three Premier League fixtures, starting against Manchester United next weekend, as they chase Champions League qualification for next season.
According to The London Evening Standard, a statement from the FA read, “Following a Regulatory Commission hearing today, Arsenal’s Olivier Giroud has had his claim for wrongful dismissal rejected. Giroud was dismissed for serious foul play during his side’s game against Fulham at Craven Cottage on Saturday 20 April 2013. The player’s three-match suspension will therefore commence with immediate effect.”
Giroud’s absence leaves Wenger short of options up front, who has utilized the Frenchman as a lone striker in each of their last nine matches. The former Montpellier striker has scored 17 goals in all competitions for the Gunners, a fair return for a foreign player in his first season in the Premier League.
Wenger will have to find a quick and effective solution as they are embroiled in a real battle to secure a top four finish in the league. They are currently third in the table with 63 points from 34 matches, and are 1 point ahead of Chelsea and two ahead of Spurs, having played a game more than both their London rivals.
Wenger can call upon the ineffective Gervinho, who has shown some promise in recent weeks. A more probable option could be Walcott, who has started in the central striking role this season. He has had a personal best goal-scoring return this season, and is also Arsenal’s leading goal scorer in this campaign with 18 strikes.
He can also utilize Podolski, who has played in the central role before, and has scored 14 goals this season. However, it does seem likely that either Gervinho or Walcott will line up as a striker against Premier League Champions Man United on Sunday.
Only time will tell if Giroud’s absence could result in Europa League football for the Gunners next term.