It was the start of the new season. The first match is against Sunderland. The score board reads 0-0. Santi Cazorla plays fellow new signing, Olivier Giroud in, with a delightful through ball. The crowd is tensed, waiting for Arsenal’s newest French import to hit the back of the net, then gasps audibly. Giroud has shanked the best chance of the match wide.
Fast forward to the third match of the season against Liverpool. Giroud again misses the target, with a similar through ball by the magnificent Abou Diaby, the only difference being that this time, it was on his favoured left foot.
These two misses, inevitably, put pressure on him to score quickly, or be branded as another flop, another Park, or a Chamakh. To relieve the pressure, Wenger did the right thing, and took out Giroud, from the line of fire, and used Gervinho as the central striker instead, which worked quite well, until the Bradford game, scoring 5 goals in the process.
However, it was always a case of when Giroud was going to score, not if, and he broke his duck in the Capital-One Cup, against Coventry City, scoring a lovely chip, after missing his first Arsenal spot-kick. His first Premier League goal came soon after, in the 3-1 win at West Ham. He continued his rich vein of form, by scoring in THAT epic comeback against Reading. His goal really galvanised Arsenal to try and come back from 4 goals down. It was one of his best performances of the season, trying the whole time to make something happen, combining with Arshavin, Walcott and Chamakh with great effect.
His first brace came against Fulham, a 3-3 draw, marred by a last-minute penalty miss by Arteta, and the fact that we had allowed Fulham to come from 2 goals down to lead 3-2. Another brace followed from our French supersub, in the 7-3 win over Newcastle, only just missing out on his hat-trick, hitting the crossbar. He continued his series of brace against West Ham and Brighton, and eventually finished with 17 goals, and 10 assists in all club competitions, 1 more than the Incredible Wayne Rooney, but was still branded as a flop in many sections of the media.
At a first glance, there are some obvious flaws in him, most notably his lack of pace. This makes it a little tougher for him to pick up through balls and shoot, as compared to the likes of Walcott or Podolski, for the extra effort that is required to catch up with the ball, before the keeper does. Also, his decision making hasn’t been too good at times. Quite a few times, we have needed him to use his strength, to go to the corner flag to wind the clock down, but he always takes the shot, costing us fans a few more of our hair. One of Giroud’s strengths is his headers. There have been some occasions this season, where he has tried to overcomplicate things, flicking his headers, rather than trying to get a firm touch on it.
But there are many positives in his performances. He has been compared to Chamakh, due to their similar styles, but they couldn’t be more different. Giroud is a technical player, an attribute that hardly exist in big target men like him. He is quite capable of playing as a centre forward or a second striker, instead of a traditional striker. He has shown that he is also capable of passing the ball, most notable of such passes is the the chipped balls for both Podolski and Gibbs, to score identical volleys. He is also more effective up front, since the players around him can play off him, acting as a pivot, resulting in goals coming from all over the pitch.
His only contribution to the team isn’t all in an attacking sense. Many times, he has been the first Arsenal head to opposition corners, providing more defensive security to the team. And his work rate is excellent too. You can see him running around in the opposition half, trying to win the ball back, though conceding silly fouls in the process, like the red card against Fulham.
The signing of Olivier Giroud has really added something to this team, and he has surely become one of the integral parts of the team, gelling well with the players alongside him, most notable Theo Walcott, with them combining for numerous goals this season. Surpassing his personal target of 12 goals this season, Giroud has proved all his detractors wrong, and won over the hearts of all Arsenal fans (Except people like Piers Morgan), with many selfless performances, even proclaiming that he wants to die on the pitch for the fans, when they sing their twist on the Beatles classic, Hey Jude. And many had fallen for him before he kicked his ball for Arsenal, at the thought of another French hunk after Robert Pires.
What are you thoughts on Giroud?