It’s not exactly the Curse of the Billy Goat, or even the now-broken Curse of the Bambino, but there is a widely-held belief amongst Arsenal supporters that there is a current Curse of the #9 Shirt. For confirmation of the curse, look no farther than Arsenal’s current (for now) #9, Park Chu-Young. Frankly, there have been more Bigfoot sightings during the 2011-12 season than there were Park sightings in Arsenal’s first team. Before him was the promising, yet some say cursed, Eduardo, who suffered through an injury-plagued Arsenal career and never reached his potential with the club. If you go back in time you can read names such as Davor Suker, Francis Jeffers, Jose Antonio Reyes, and even a post-Bergkamp Paul Merson, but this is not an article about looking back, but rather one about the future.
I don’t think it too much of a stretch to think that should the widely-reported but as-of-yet-unconfirmed signing of Olivier Giroud be confirmed by the club, he has a good chance of taking over the #9 shirt from Park, who seems likely to be on the way out. Even if Park stays, Giroud, the current France International #9, is much more likely to take the number 9 off Park’s back than he is to keep his current #17 at Montpellier by taking it from Alex Song (basically no way that’s happening). There is a third option, that Giroud could take a currently unassigned number, but I bet when he pulls on the Arsenal shirt it will have that possibly-cursed 9 on the back.
Giroud will be successful for Arsenal, where other strikers coming from the French Ligue 1 have not (see e.g. Chamakh, Marouane, & Park, Chu-Young) because his production in Ligue 1 far surpasses those of other recent strikers Wenger has brought from the French league to Arsenal. In this last season for Montpillier, Giroud was the joint-leading scorer in Ligue 1, putting away 21 goals in 36 appearances. That’s over one goal for every two appearances. By contrast, in his last season in Ligue 1 (2009-10), playing for Bordeaux, Chamakh scored only 10 goals in 38 appearances, and in the season before joining Arsenal (2010-11), Park scored only 12 goals in 33 appearances for Ligue 1 side Monaco. Giroud’s 21 goals in 2011-12 is only one shy of the combined totals of Chamakh and Park in their last seasons in Ligue 1. Accordingly, I expect his production for Arsenal to be similarly more impressive than have been those of Chamakh and Park. If he does dawn the #9 shirt for Arsenal, Giroud looks to have a great chance to break the curse and produce for Arsene Wenger in 2012-13.