Arsenal are enjoying an impressive run of form this Premier League season, with six wins from their last six games elevating them to the summit of the table alongside Manchester City.
While Arsene Wenger’s side suffered defeat at the hands of Liverpool on the opening day of the season, they have not lost since, are the in-form side and show no signs of slowing down.
Across all areas of the match day squad, the Gunners are firing on all cylinders. Defence and midfield are imperious and efficient while things are about as good as they have been up front since the days of Thierry Henry.
Theo Walcott and Alexis Sanchez have become an unlikely attacking pair this term. Walcott has found the form often missing in recent seasons and has capitalised with five goals already this term. Sanchez, for his part, has been moved to a striker’s role by Wenger and has adapt with ease, firing home four goals of his own.
Add to this a rain of goals from midfield stalwarts Mesut Ozil, Santi Cazorla and summer signing Granit Xhaka and suddenly there appears to a wealth of goal scoring options.
So where does that leave Olivier Giroud? Having only featured three times so far term, the France international is currently out injured, with a return date as of yet unknown.
When he does return to fitness, the big question now is whether he will be able to push his way back into the squad. With Walcott and Sanchez locking down the starting places up front, the bench is the likely destination for the 30-year-old.
However, even there the Frenchman faces stiff competition from the likes of Lucas Perez, a summer signing yet to make his mark, and the up and coming Chuba Akpom, who impressed during Arsenal’s pre-season and who is pushing for his place in the match day squad.
At 30, Giroud is coming to that point in his career where he has perhaps only one long-term contract left in him. Contracted to the Gunners until 2018, he will be at a critical point in his career when this deal expires. Should he have spent more time on the bench than off it between now and then would certainly impact his ability to obtain an extension or a lucrative deal elsewhere.
As a result, it seems that there is a crossroads looming on the fast approaching horizon for the Frenchman. While Wenger continues to insist that his compatriot features in his plans this term, the prospect of return from injury well down the pecking order might well give Giroud food for thought.
These are uncharted waters for the striker. Facing increased competition at the Emirates and having not featured on the Premier League score sheet yet this term, Giroud faces a real battle to regain his place.
The question is, will it be a battle he wants to fight?
Gary Brennan, Pundit Arena