There are many fellow Gooners who believe that we need to improve on Giroud; that there are better strikers and he is not worthy enough of the mighty red and white shirt (as first choice).
If we compare him – and with that I mean his hard CF performance stats of goals and chance conversion – against many fellow CFs at top rival clubs, it is fair to say he is not in the top quality bracket.
OG might not score as many goals as Suarez, let alone Ronaldo and Messi, but this is missing the point to a large extent. Giroud’s job description is a lot wider than that, and until we start to appreciate this we will not be able to value his incredible worth to the team.
OG gives structure to the team. Just as with the more traditional camping tents, he is the central pole on which the forefront of the tent is based. His role is to be a focal point; a beacon in a sea of nasty defenders and midfielders; recipient of balls from the midfield (and often the keeper) and protector of it; and, most importantly, the midfield enabler. Yes, the midfielders and fellow attackers ‘enabler’ is his biggest role in Wenger’s current system; and as such he is more of an attacking midfielder than an out and out CF. Let me put it differently: Ollie could still be a success the coming season even if he scores only a handful of goals.
Giving structure up-front is so important in 4-2-3-1/4-2-1-3 formation. Germany started to play far better football once they put Klose up-front; France gambled on Benzema instead of Giroud up-front and lost their cohesion and structure – becoming far less effective as a result; Liverpool have bought Lambert to play in the ‘Giroud’ role no doubt; and MC have Dzeko to play as the holding striker/Midfield Enabler, etc. It might not always be pretty, but so be it.
Of course, Giroud is also there to score goals and so he does; and, once again, he has improved in the second year he has been at a club. But that is not his only, or dare I say, most important role. Wenger wants goals from OG’s fellow attackers and midfielders as well, and lots of them; and OG is there to set them up, produce assists, carry enough threat to occupy and worry defenders and score goals himself as well. We need 10-15 goals each from Sanchez, Theo, Pod, Ozil, Ramsey, Cazorla, and yes from the hard working Giroud himself. Goals need to be spread throughout the team so we do not become over-dependent on one or two top class attackers.
Now if you take these tasks into account, can you name me a significantly better ‘holding striker’ than Olivier Giroud? Which central attacker is willing to work so hard, sacrifice himself so much and go against his very nature to play with his back towards the goal for large parts of the game as OG does?
This does not mean we should not look for an improvement on OG, as his lack of finishing ability has led us down on occasions, especially during the tougher, bigger games. But let’s in the meantime build further on Giroud. His third season should be even better: he is a late developer and is now reaching the best years of his career.
Not only Ozil but also OG suffered from the injuries to Theo and Ramsey. If an enabler is not successful at ‘enabling’ his shortcomings will be exposed, and without Theo and Ramsey to benefit from his hard graft, he did look frustrated and ineffective at times. But in the new season things will be different: OG will be able to work with Ramsey, Ozil, Pod, Ox, Sanchez and Cazorla, and possibly a b2b midfielder, and eventually Theo, as well (and then there are Jack and Campbell as well). And I believe this is exactly what Wenger wants to see.
I have no doubt that OG will be Arsene’s first attacker on the team sheet: he is the protector of the shape to our attack and the lynchpin for the rest of the team. Just like BFG at the back – who holds the back of the tent together – our team structure and purpose lean heavily on Giroud’s ability to play with his back towards the goal.
And yes, when he misses a big chance again I will cringe too and tell him what a waste of space he is; but let’s then remember again that he was not bought to be the perfect nr.9, and that all the hard work he does for us will often lead to him being too tired to finish off a chance. It is a price worth paying if he can enable the rest to shine, and shine we will! 🙂
Written by: TotalArsenal.