Analysing Olivier Giroud's match-winning performance for Arsenal against West Brom
On his first start for the Gunners in the Premier League since he scored a hat-trick against Aston Villa on the final day of the 2015/16 campaign in May, it seemed as though Olivier Giroud was in for a frustrating afternoon with Ben Foster on top form in a physical battle between the Frenchman and a determined West Brom backline.
That was until the 86th minute, when Hector Bellerin cut the ball back to Mesut Ozil outside the box to cross the ball in, when Giroud dominated Gareth McAuley to get his head to the ball which looped up and beyond the sprawling Ben Foster to give Arsene Wenger and co. the three points.
The game had brought back memories of a number of frustrating stalemates of recent times, such as the 0-0 with Watford only a matter of weeks ago, but Giroud provided the physical presence to turn the more direct style used late on by the London outfit to turn pressure into a goal at long last.
It was a vital moment for the 30-year-old to really show what he was made of, having had three efforts saved by Foster and a further shot blocked as he made the most of the relative lack of service that came his way, also creating a chance in the second half.
His aerial and physical dominance was clear winning both of his aerial duels and having three efforts on goal with his head, something which has been sorely lacking despite the tremendous form of Alexis Sanchez due to his different style of play as the main man up front at the Emirates.
The crucial winning goal was Giroud’s sixth of the season in 16 games, averaging a goal every 85 minutes, and a goal or assist every 57 minutes, compared to a goal every 145 minutes and goal or assist every 78 minutes for Alexis Sanchez. Whether that shows that Giroud deserves to start, or in fact that he is the perfect impact substitute is open to interpretation. What is or sure is that Giroud made his case well on Boxing Day.
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