Olivier Giroud: Is He Greatly Under-Appreciated at Arsenal?
In all my years as an Arsenal supporter, I’ve seen many strikers leave their mark while wearing the famous Red and White of the North London outfit. Ian Wright was a lethal goal scorer in his days and with 184 goals to his name, he remains one of the greatest players the club has ever heard. However, there was the King himself, Thierry Henry, that wowed the fans with his va va voom style of play that endeared him to the hearts of fans forever. Even with 228 goals to his name, the King wasn’t just a great goal scorer, he was a scorer of great goals.
Then there was the Robin van Persie era. The Flying Dutchman is currently on the bad books of many Arsenal fans when he opted to join the ‘enemy’ but the latter period of his Arsenal career was flooded with a lot of goals, a whole damn lot. Van Persie was Arsenal’s get-out-of-jail-free card in many situations and with 132 goals to his name, it looked like a big void was left to fill when he departed in the start of the 2012/13 campaign. With van Persie gone, the Gunners had proactively signed two left-footed forwards to ease the pain of losing such an important attacking outlet.
Which brings us to good ol’ Olivier Giroud. He began his career in the French Ligue 2 and played in a couple of clubs before getting his breakthrough at Montpellier Herault SC. Giroud was instrumental in the club’s maiden Ligue 1 title in the 2011/12 campaign and when he joined the club at the point when van Persie was departing for greener pastures. With no other striker coming after the Dutchman was sold, there was a certain level of expectation, or should I say burden, that was placed on Giroud’s shoulders.
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. That season, Giroud scored 22 goals in 51 games, Higuain netted 24 goals in 46 games and Suarez smashed in 31 goals in 37 games. Obviously good goalscoring returns for exceptional strikers in good form.
At the start of the new campaign, Giroud scored a late equalizer and suffered a long-term injury and some fans labeled 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.
Since his return from injury, Giroud has scored Manchester United, Newcastle (brace), Liverpool, Manchester City, Aston Villa, Middlesbrough (brace), Crystal Palace and most recently, Everton which is a return of 10 goals in his last 17 games. This also took his overall tally to 51 goals in 119 games for Arsenal, which is pretty much impressive if you ask me. All those folks that made their voices heard about how Giroud doesn’t score in ‘big games’ were made to eat their words. Still it’s ‘not good enough’ for some Arsenal fans. Many they have watched Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi score so many goals with consummate ease and would prefer to see the same at the Emirates.
The table below shows the top five leagues in Europe and their top goal scorers.
|LEAGUE||LEADING GOAL SCORER (CLUB)||GAMES PLAYED||GOALS IN LEAGUE||OVERALL GOALS|
|English Premier League||Diego Costa (Chelsea)||28||17||18|
|English Premier League||Sergio Aguero (Man City)||28||17||22|
|Spanish La Liga||Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid)||36||30||39|
|Italian Serie A||Mauro Icardi (Inter)||31||14||19|
|Italian Serie A||Carlos Tevez (Juventus)||28||14||20|
|German Bundesliga||Arjen Robben (FC Bayern)||25||17||19|
|French Ligue 1||Alex Lacazzete (OL)||30||21||25|
Yes, we all want that dream striker that would give you 30-goals a season but looking at this list, you’d notice that they are the main goalscoring outlets in their respective clubs. At Arsenal, that load has been equally shared – Alexis Sanchez leads the charts with 18 goals, Santi Cazorla has eight, Welbeck seven, Ramsey six and even Ozil has popped in four. Giroud currently has 12 goals and in the form he’s in, I expect him to shatter the 20-goal mark sooner rather than later.
Strikers are naturally judged by goals but Arsenal fans that watch Giroud week in week out will know that he offers a lot to the team. In this brilliant piece on Mesut Ozil by North London is Red, the writer mentioned how Giroud’s offensive work is underrated. The striker’s link-up play is up there with the very best and his selfless nature has seen him notch up some assist for his teammates. Michael Owen can be very annoying on TV sometimes, but he was effusive in his praise for the French forward,
“Today he never shirked [against Everton]. Some of the lesser strikers would think about going missing a little bit. He was always involved.
“He makes bad balls into good balls. He can be that link player, he sets up chances, he gets in the box, he gets into the good areas. He is a good finisher with both feet and his head. I am really impressed.”
Many Arsenal fans would feel that Olivier Giroud might not bang in the goals like Robin van Persie, Ian Wright and Thierry Henry, but shouldn’t they at least wait till the end of the season before they access and reevaluate the striker’s performance this season?
At least, players like Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain have publicly praised his contributions to the team. I feel some of the fans should follow suit.
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