Why Olivier Giroud cannot lead Arsenal to the Premier League title
The hardest thing in football is to score a goal. The main objective of any match is to outscore your opponents, and Arsenal fans only know this frustration too well. After the departure of former club captain Robin van Persie to rivals Manchester United, the North London club have not had a consistent 20+ goals a season striker. Many thought that through the purchase of French Striker Olivier Giroud, that would change. However, after joining in July 2012, it’s hard to say the former Montpellier frontman hasn’t had ample opportunity to become the ‘main man’ at Arsenal.
In his time at the Emirates, Giroud has had four full seasons at the North London club where he has never reached 20 league goals. Having his best year in 13/14 where he scored 16 league goals in 36 appearances, it really highlights how Giroud has struggled to fill the gap that has been left by predecessors such as van Persie and Thierry Henry. I’m in no way trying to compare the Frenchman to the aforementioned strikers. However, Arsenal fans are used to seeing strikers reach 20+ goals, with Henry and van Persie reaching it a combined seven times between them.
This is not going to be a full on negative blog on the forward though. Giroud is a very talented forward, who possesses wonderful hold up play and close control, as well as being a huge aerial threat. Many a time in his Premier League career has he scored vital goals that have been fondly remembered amongst Gooners fans, including the winner against North London rivals Tottenham, and the header away at Manchester City last season. However, Giroud just doesn’t come across as the man to lead Arsenal anymore. His distinct lack of pace, his inconsistent performances and his public threats to Wenger about not bringing in reinforcements hasn’t gone down to well in his pursuit for cult hero status at Arsenal.
Giroud is a very emotional striker, and you can sense that feeling when he plays. It’s really common for a player that to kiss the badge when he scores, and show his love for the fans he represents and the Frenchman is one of the most recognised players at doing this. However, this can sometimes go the other way as well. Many Gooners fans who watch him regularly will relate to the ‘moody and petulant’ side of Giroud. He has been known to be a form player, and really blows hot and cold. He can go on a run of scoring in five games in a row, then can go eight without – he’s just that type of striker. And the Arsenal fans want more than that, they expect more and rightfully so. It’s not that he can’t complain about the service either, with players such as Ozil, Sanchez and Cazorla behind him on a regular basis, it’s difficult to understand why the Frenchman hasn’t got the desired tally of 20 league goals.
When the chips are down, who do Arsenal turn to in the hope to turn the game around? Not many would say the French international. He lacks that fear from opposing defenders that you know he could score in the last minute and win you the game. Scoring in big games really makes you stand out. Fernando Torres, Didier Drogba and Thierry Henry all had this trait. Unfortunately, Giroud doesn’t. With only four goals against Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea in four years, it doesn’t represent the kind of tally that your number one striker should be returning with.
I mentioned earlier that Giroud has previously stated that, ‘Wenger didn’t need to look at reinforcements’, but surely a team the size of Arsenal shouldn’t want to rely on a striker of his consistency? I understand the gripes of many Gooners fans when Wenger doesn’t reinvest the money they pay into improving the squad, and even with the introduction of Lucas Perez, it still doesn’t seem enough. He would benefit from working alongside another striker, a nimbler player who can cover the ground that he can’t.
The situation that Giroud finds himself in at the minute is very similar to the situation of England striker Daniel Sturridge. Both find themselves on the bench due to attacking players who are more agile and press higher in their place. The Frenchman will not able to press at the level of Alexis Sanchez, but with the current rate of performances from the Chilean hotshot, it’s hard to see how he will get a foothold within this different looking Arsenal side.
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