Thoughts on Giroud’s Recent Decline in Goalscoring Form
Arsenal is a team that is widely renowned for its exciting brand of entertaining football and the current squad is blessed with a plethora of football technicians that have given their all for the team’s cause as the season progresses.
Arsenal, like every other team in the Premier League, has had some great predatory forwards that smashed in goals with consummate ease. I wasn’t born when Cliff Bastin wowed the Highbury crowd but I was fortunate to see Ian Wright break Bastin’s long goalscoring record of 178 goals by sealing a hat-trick against Bolton in September 1997.
Just when we thought that Wright was Arsenal’s greatest center forward ever, a certain Thierry Henry popped up and broke Wright’s record of 185 goals against Sparta Prague in October 2005 and went on top the club’s goalscoring charts with 228 goals. At the frantic pace Robin van Persie scored goals for fun for the club, he was touted to at least match Ian Wright’s record but he couldn’t add to his 132 goals for the club as he departed for greener pastures.
Replacing a striker of van Persie’s quality was no mean feat but Arsenal swooped for Ligue 1’s top goalscorer in the 2011/12 season, Olivier Giroud, and the club also signed Lukas Podolski from FC Cologne to share the goalscoring workload. As you’d expect from players coming in from a different footballing culture, Giroud and Podolski had their struggles in one of the toughest football leagues in the world and a return of 33 goals between them was appreciated by the manager, their teammates and fans alike.
At the start of the new campaign, the manager acknowledged that a new striker was needed and the club were heavily linked with moves for Gonzalo Higuain and Luis Suarez, two players that were sure to displace Giroud off his perch. With the striker needed to prove his worth to the team, he smashed in five goals in his first six games, which was an amazing return for the Frenchman.
He went on to score goals against Napoli (home), Dortmund (away) and Crystal Palace taking his tally to eight goals this season but now without a goal in each of his last six games. It’s also what noting that Giroud has scored in one of his last 11 Arsenal appearances. That was the game against Southampton where Artur Boruc gifted him the first goal and he smashed in a penalty afterwards.
10 goals from 24 appearances is a good return from a striker but when you live in a world where the Sergio Agueros and Luis Suarez’s are decimating opposition defenses in the same league, you have to at least expect more from your alpha-dog in attack.
In Arsenal’s 6-3 mauling at the Etihad, Giroud had two quickfire chances he failed to capitalize on. The first was a brilliantly flicked ball from Jack Wilshere that was skied by the Frenchman while the second was a header that was glanced wide from a peach of a cross from Bacary Sagna.
In Arsenal’s last game against game against Chelsea, the game was locked at 0-0 when Aaron Ramsey noticed an unmarked Giroud on Ivanovic’s blind side. The Welsh phenom dinked the ball to Giroud’s path on his favorite left foot but the forward wasted the golden opportunity.
It was truly a terrible miss from the forward and he was going to miss another clear cut opportunity when Gibbs worked hard with Rosicky to square the ball to Giroud but his shot was parried by Cech. For a striker that was anonymous in front of goal all game long, these two quickfire chances presented him with a chance to write his name in Arsenal folklore but as expected, he was found wanting.
According to WhoScored, Giroud has scored seven goals in the Premier League from 57 shots and he averages 3.6 shots per game. Giroud has some strengths that have been on show this season (dominance in the air, lovely linkup play, amazing work rate) but his lack of pace and poor finishing shows that he can’t be fully relied on when the chips are down.
I really hate to compare him with RVP because of their classes apart but when I think about the fact that the Flying Dutchman was Arsenal’s get-out-of-jail-free card, it hurts to see that a talented forward like Giroud needs to get four to five chances before he converts one. There are games, like the one against Chelsea, where you can only be afforded one chance and you need to grab it with both hands.
From another perspective, Arsenal needs a new striker to offer stiff competition to Giroud. When he knew that his place was under threat in the summer to the likes of Higuain and Suarez, Giroud stepped up his game to prove to the manager that he was right to keep the faith with him. Now he can only look at Nicklas Bendtner as his backup striker and of course, he knows that Wenger would always favor him above the Dane.
Giroud’s fitness is also a key issue for his recent dip in form. For those that don’t know, he has played 24 games already spanning across four playing competitions and he’s starting to burn out. He was afforded a breather against Hull as Bendtner played in his stead but that was the only time he could afford to be rested.
The likes of Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Ozil and Jack Wilshere have shared the goalscoring load with Giroud but Arsenal needs Nicklas Bendtner, Theo Walcott and Lukas Podolski to step up their games to provide support to Giroud. It’s a team game after all.
Podolski is a much better finisher than Giroud, but doesn’t offer much more than that, and was pretty much anonymous when played up front on his own last season. Walcott’s brace against Manchester City showed what he’s capable of but he was a peripheral figure against Chelsea. Bendtner hasn’t still gotten a run of games to prove his worth and many believe that his future lies elsewhere.
The Gunners are without a win in four and face a West Ham side that has secured two great results against the Gunners’ rivals, Tottenham, in their home turf, so they certainly won’t be pushovers.
Arsenal needs Giroud and co. to get in on the scoring act and some goals against the East Londoners would be highly welcome.
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