I like Oliver Giroud. He works hard, plays with passion, is a late developer and combines a strong ego with the willingness to sacrifice himself for the greater good of the team. He is not born with natural composure, something which only the very best strikers possess (Van Basten, Henry, Bergkamp, Messi etc). Giroud will always have to rely of his key strengths: stamina, hunger, power, decent technique and team play.
I reckon Arsene prefers his central striker to be a team player. Somebody who is happy to do the most unnatural thing for a striker: playing with his back towards the opposition’s goal for large parts of the game, and sacrificing himself for the team. He tried it with Chamakh and the Moroccan played his role a lot better than many have given him credit for. Before he was unceremoniously dumped for the recovered Van Judas, after Christmas a few seasons ago, Arsenal managed to score 2.4 goals per game: many goals came from our midfielders, and our 4-5-1, with the likes of Fabregas and Nasri enjoying themselves as they never did before, worked a treat.
Van Judas is a far better striker than Chamakh and Giroud: no argument there. But the problem with such a prolific striker is that slowly but steadily more or less all attacking play is narrowed down to the one and sharpest arrow. This quickly results in both an overreliance on that top striker and a reduction of goals per game. On average, Arsenal never got above 2.0 goals per game when the grey-haired broody woman led the line, which is not really enough to win the league.
I reckon Arsenal made progress last season by spreading the goals between all our attackers, and there is good reason to believe Giroud’s claim today, that more and better is to come from him, Pod and Cazorla, next season. I have no doubt there is more to come from Cazorla and a fit Podolski, but what about the Frenchman?
Ollie is a late developer and it looks like, every time, he needs a season to settle in at a new club, after which he makes a steep improvement. At Tours he went from 9 to 21 league goals in his second season, and at Montpellier he went from 12 to 21 league goals. If he could go from 11 league goals to 20+ next season, he will have done really well.
Moving from the French Alps to rural French towns and cities will not have been too taxing on him, but playing and living in cosmopolitan London and for a top European team, is a different ball game. All his overeagerness is not going to compensate for this instantly.
But, as per the start of the post, he has the characteristics to spur himself on and push himself to the top, and I reckon he will make that ‘second season improvement’ once again. His success should not just be measured through his goals and assists though; it is just as important to judge him on all the work he does to allow others to shine.
Written by: TotalArsenal.