It took Thierry Henry eight matches to open his scoring account for Arsenal, a period so fraught with self doubt that the winger turned striker admitted he had to be “re-taught everything about the art of striking.” The drought ended on 18 September 1999 against Southampton, as Henry losing his marker, finds a sliver of space and curls his shot without any further elaboration. The rest they say is history. Arsenal’s topscorer finished with 228 goals (and possibly counting) breaking Ian Wright’s previous record by 43 goals.
Wright did not have to wait that long. His first league appearance was against Southampton on 28 September 1991, and it turned out to be a stunning debut as Arsenal scorched the Saints, 4-0 with Wright scoring a hat trick on his way to winning the Golden Boot. Three years later, Southampton were at the receiving end of another Wright hat trick losing by an identical margin. The former Crystal Palace striker ended his Arsenal career with five hat tricks and lead the club goalscoring six of his seven years.
The highly anticipated arrival of Dennis Bergkamp, a rising star on a record fee of £7.5 million from Inter was expected to pay immediate dividends. Instead, Bruce Rioch’s signing struggled to adapt to the Premier League. On 23 September 1995, Southampton came knocking and Bergkamp, the butt of merciless ridicule by the press, scored a brace in his fifth appearance. He went on to score 11 goals that season helping Arsenal to fifth place in the league. Bergkamp ended his Arsenal career giving the English language, “sublime.” .
Robin Van Persie, his career blighted with injury till last season, lived up to his full throated promise when he showed what he was capable of if healthy. Arsenal shot to third place after their worst start in fifty eight years as the Dutchman top scored with 30 league goals. RVP came to Arsenal from Ajax in 2004 and his first brush with the Premier League was marred by competition from Antonio Reyes, immature outbursts, and injuries. He was a sparingly used sub coming in late for either Reyes or Pires and it was his fifth match coming off the bench as Arsenal trailed Southampton, 1-2. With a few minutes left on the clock, RVP drew Arsenal level with a left footed curler for his first Premiership goal on 30th October. The Saints turned out to be a familiar target once again on their Premiership return, as RVP scored a first hat trick for his new club, Man Utd.
Oliver Giroud should take heart. His movement has been good and he’s been getting chances in front of goal. He doesn’t have to overthink things. Admittedly, all four players who scored against the Saints were not exactly centerforwards but were either wingers turned strikers or were comfortable playing in the hole. Giroud’s best bet still remains positioning himself out on the posts for set piece service or second attempts. He has to use his height and physicality to create chances for him and for others in and around the box. Tomorrow might be the day to end his scoring frustrations. If he does, he’s in excellent company.