Why Arsenal needed Antonio Conte's permission to sub on Olivier Giroud v Chelsea

Sydney FC v Arsenal

Arsenal didn’t exactly flatter themselves in their friendly clash with Chelsea on Saturday.

The Gunners were resoundingly humbled at the Bird’s Nest Stadium in Beijing with their opponents running away 3-0 victors. It served to stunt a pre-season campaign that had reached its zenith with a promising victory over Bayern Munich.

Defeat to the Blues has proven something of a reality check for Arsene Wenger’s men. Chelsea may have played the stronger outfit but their starting XI still wasn’t at full strength.

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That was reiterated by the fact Michy Batshuayi was leading the line for the champions and, for that matter, bagged a brace. The Belgian was in fine form and only the linesman’s flag denied him a hat trick in the Chinese heat.

Willian was the other goal scorer and Conte was keen to blood a number of youngsters during the friendly clash. Forgotten man Loic Remy was even given a handful of minutes against the team that had once chased him.

As far as strikers go for Arsenal, record signing Alexandre Lacazette was given the nod but was starved of service. A few wayward touches honed in on by Manchester United fans were his only claim to fame in the clash.

Consequently, Wenger sought to change the dynamic of his side’s attack by introducing Olivier Giroud to the fray.

That’s easier said than done, though, and Wenger was actually blocked by Chinese officials when he attempted to sub on Giroud. This was due to the fact, rather unbelievably, Arsenal had left him off their teamsheet.

And the officials present were somewhat sticklers for the rules.

Nevertheless, Vic Akers – a member of the Arsenal staff – did something quite incredible and approached Antonio Conte about the matter. The two engaged in conversation and Akers was eventually given Conte’s blessing to introduce Giroud.

Talk about a palaver for a pre-season friendly. We’ll have to hope it’s further reason to like Conte and not just philanthropy born from Chelsea’s commanding lead at the time.

Giroud did little to help Arsenal’s fading chances in the game and the 30-year-old’s frustrating summer continued. When you’re being forgotten by your own club on their teamsheet, though, you can hardly blame him.

That being said, Lacazette’s so-so performance suggests the forward won’t be too far from the number one spot next summer. For all his frustrating misses and lack of pace, Giroud certainly knows where the back of the net is.

Western Sydney v Arsenal

He’ll just be hoping that any absences from the teamsheet in coming games won’t be by Wenger’s design.

Do you think Arsenal should hold onto Olivier Giroud this summer? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

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