Olivier Giroud: How Badly Was he Missed?
They say you never know what you have until you lose it.
After smashing in 39 goals in his first two seasons at Arsenal, many of the fans still believed that Olivier Giroud wasn’t good enough to lead the line at Arsenal. The fans want a 30-goal a season striker that would also score in big games. Apparently, Giroud turned out to be a flat-track bully that only scored “lower teams” but he couldn’t do the same against the big guns of the Premier League. Last season, the fans were elated with the pursuits of Gonzalo Higuain and Luis Suarez, even if the moves didn’t come to fruition.
Fast forward to the start of this season. Giroud scored a sumptuous strike to put the icing on the cake in the 3-0 trouncing of Manchester City in the Community Shield. Many folks were even quick to play down the best goal on the afternoon, citing that it was just a pre-season friendly and Manchester City didn’t take the game seriously. Then for reasons best known to Albus Dumbledore and Gandalf, Arsene Wenger opts for Yaya Sanogo ahead of Giroud in the curtain raiser against Crystal Palace. Giroud then played a significant role with a late equalizer against Everton then it happened, another terrible long term injury to one of the team’s most integral players.
Some fans labelled Giroud’s injury as a “blessing in disguise” because they believed that Giroud’s injury would force Wenger to remove the dust of the Arsenal cheque book and sign that striker from Planet Krypton that would score goals in industrial quantities like Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. Then that guy, Danny Welbeck, arrives. Certainly not from Krypton and he certainly won’t give you 30 goals a season.
A nice debut against Manchester City (who can forget that lobbed effort that clipped the post), a rather dismal outing agianst Dortmund then his goal arrived in Villa Park. A sign of things to come all season long? It was definitely to early to judge. Welbeck rose to prominence following his magnificent hat-trick against Galatasaray and watching the boy play so well on the night made the fans feel that he was the man to lead the line for years to come. He showed good reactions to score a late goal against Hull.
Then came the drought.
Anderlecht, Sunderland, Burnley, Anderlecht again, Swansea, Manchester United, Dortmund. Arsenal won only three games from the teams in the aforementioned list but the most significant thing about this run of fixtures was that Welbeck struggled to make an impact. Fine, it’s a team sport and messiahs like Alexis Sanchez had to pop up with the goods so the reliance on a player like Welbeck was slim to none. It’s also worth noting that Giroud scored an awesome goal against Manchester United but it was more or less a consolation.
After a frantic wait for his goal, he got his breakthrough in the Hawthorns and it was good seeing the English forward back on the score sheet. The game against Southampton was key to the Gunners because of its impact on the table. Thanks to their amazing start to the season, the Saints were six points ahead of the Gunners with six points so a win was paramount.
On the night, Welbeck was found wanting yet again. His passing was somewhat erratic and his finishing, boy. In his bid to get something out of the game, Arsene Wenger, in his infinite wisdom, decided that it was time for Giroud to aid the team and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was the player that was sacrificed to bring on the Frenchman. The boo boys made their voices heard but all they could do was boo right? They couldn’t change the fact that Giroud was on the pitch and Ox on the bench.
The Frenchman almost made an instant impact with a lovely volley that was parried by the excellent Forster. Then a moment of sheer intelligence was displayed by the real OG. With Welbeck on the defender’s blind side, Giroud executed one of his trademark flicks that put the Englishman through on goal. Welbeck had the pace to evade the defender but the finish was lacking as Forster parried his shot away.
That moment showed that playing 4-4-2 can certainly reap dividends for the club. Giroud offering that physical presence, aerial ability and intelligence to hold up and link up play with his teammates. Welbeck offering his raw reserves of pace and that work rate that inspires his teammates to do even more.
In the end, the Gunners sang praises for Alexis Sanchez for scoring the goal that gave the team all three points but everyone that watched the team well can attest to the fact that Giroud’s introduction sparked a revival which ultimately led to Arsenal getting all three points.
Whether Giroud starts ahead of Welbeck in the coming weeks is left for the manager to decide, but his cameo against West Brom and more recently, Southampton, shows that he can work well with his pacey counterparts.
How badly was he missed?
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