Olivier Giroud has been at Arsenal for seven months now: he has played 39 games (all competitions), scored 14 and produced 10 assists. You could say, not a bad return for a first season in the Premier League. The only problem for the Frenchman is he plays in the position a certain treacherous Dutchman used to occupy, and the former Montpellier striker has, at least until now, not succeeded in making us forget him – not that this is necessarily his responsibility alone.
It is still early days, and I find it quite hard to give an accurate assessment of Giroud’s qualities and likely progression of his football career at Arsenal. His strength are his work-rate, aerial ability, and shooting skills, although the latter is good but not great.
I am yet to be impressed with his hold up play and passing: his first touch could be better, and for a very tall and well-build striker he struggles often to shield the ball from opponents, and win many one-to-ones. On the plus side, Olivier makes good runs and is a good team player, which is reflected in the number of assists he has produced until now.
Of course, we have been blessed at Arsenal with a number of truly fantastic strikers, especially in recent times: Wright, Anelka, Henry, Bergkamp, and Van Judas were all phenomenal. I doubt that we will add Giroud to the list of Arsenal striker-greats anytime soon, although I repeat it is still early days to make that judgement.
Giroud reminds me more of the Adebayor or Bendtner type of striker: very physical and strong in the air, with a good shot; but not with the touch and timing, the elegance and ruthlessness of some of our more illustrious strikers. What sets him apart from the other two strikers, though, is his phenomenal work-rate and continuous team play.
I watched him live at the Emirates against Blackburn and away against Norwich this season, and in both games I was underwhelmed by him. His performances against Bayern and Spuds were also below par as he was unable in both games to add a bit of magic; a bit of quality that would get us back into the game again.
But then I was unimpressed by most of our team in those games, and I also realised how little we played as a strong unit; Arsenal have been anything but a well-oiled machine with purpose and good telepathic relationships between the players in most of our recent games.
It so often looks that Giroud is trying too hard: he is desperate to play really well and make us all love him with his goals and assists, but by doing so he seems to regularly lose his composure and focus in the game.
As this is his first season and Arsenal are going through a big transition as a team, and his work-rate is always fantastic, I feel we need to give him the benefit of the doubt and allow him to rediscover his form again during the remainder of the season.
Come next season, it is very likely that Giroud will find strong competition from a newly signed striker who might become first choice immediately. But if that were the case, I am sure Giroud would fight with all he has got to claim back the central striker role.
And even if he would lose out to this newly signed top-striker, Giroud will still be a fine squad player to have. He could still start a number of games and give the new striker a break now and again; and he could also become our ideal super-sub. Whether he would accept such a role is an entirely other matter!
But there is also still a possibility that he will start to properly flourish in the next couple of months and show us all that he is more than worthy of the top-striker spot.
How do you think Giroud’s Arsenal career will develop over the next few years?
Written by: TotalArsenal.