Olivier Giroud is currently Arsenal’s first choice striker and looks to have secured that as Arsene Wenger appears to be cautious about bringing in another forward. The Frenchman doesn’t have a playing style that is typical of Arsenal strikers of the past, but it is perfect for their current eleven. Last season he was getting used to the Premier League and took a lot of criticism from Arsenal fans who were comparing him to Robin van Persie which was unfair, but he is now one of the first names on the teamsheet. He is already two goals away from his league goals total of last season in January so he should surpass that easily. He still has an outside chance of getting twenty goals this season which would really put him up there with the best strikers in the league.
Arsenal haven’t been used to having a striker like Giroud who is physical with a very good aerial ability. He likes to bring in other players with his flick ons which has benefited Aaron Ramsey hugely as the Welshman likes to run behind Giroud. The Frenchman is also very good with his feet like all Arsenal players are. He is capable of playing through balls to on-running midfielders and he has the ability to find space in the box with the ball to get his shot away like he did against Aston Villa on Monday. Many consider Giroud to be the perfect fit for Arsenal as he is a team player which is useful for Arsenal as they have players who can score all over the pitch, whereas certain teams do rely on their striker for goals. He has five assists so far this season showing his value to the team.
Thierry Henry is without doubt the greatest Arsenal striker of all time, after he scored 174 goals in 254 league matches. He was an out and out goalscorer, after breaking the 20 goal barrier in five of his eight seasons in an Arsenal shirt. He also contributed 77 league assists in his eight seasons in North London. The Frenchman was a complete forward who could score almost any kind of goal, but he wasn’t entirely selfish as his assists tally shows. His pace and one on one finishing were his main strengths as he rarely missed clear cut chances. Giroud is nowhere near his quality in most areas, but he is stronger in the air than Henry ever was.
Another Arsenal striking legend is Dennis Bergkamp who operated more as a support striker, known for his ability to change a game with a defence splitting pass for his striker partner. He scored 87 times in 315 league matches for the North London outfit. The Dutch legend will forever be known for changing Arsenal from a defensive team to the team they are now. He was certainly the player who signified the Arsene Wenger era of attacking football with many Arsenal players stating Bergkamp made a huge change to the club’s philosophy. He had great technical ability that not many other players could compete with, as his career progressed he started to focus more on assisting his team-mates than scoring himself. Giroud can’t compete with Bergkamp’s technique and passing range, but the Frenchman is more clinical and superior in the air.
Personally I feel Giroud is a better fit for Arsenal than Robin van Persie who he replaced. The Dutchman scored 96 goals in 194 matches. He was a lot more selfish than Giroud in front of goal, while he is also more of an individual than the Frenchman. Giroud is happy to go under the radar and be part of the team, while it appears that van Persie likes to be the main man. The current Manchester United striker is a complete striker who can score wonder goals, free kicks and can finish inside the box comfortably as well. He is also useful in the air as he showed against Arsenal at Old Trafford this season as he headed in the winner from a corner. If Giroud plays the same number of games that van Persie has played, I think he could come very close to beating the Dutchman’s goal tally.
Of course it’s too early to seriously compare Giroud with these Arsenal legends as the former Montpellier striker has only been at the club for 18 months, however it’s clear to see the differences in the playing styles of all four players I’ve mentioned. The Frenchman is more of a team player than van Persie. While he can lead the line alone while Bergkamp and Henry benefited from playing as a pair. Giroud is a modern day striker who can contribute goals, but is more focused on fitting into the team’s playing style and bringing the best out of his team-mates. If the French International stays at the club for the next five or six years, he’ll certainly be looked at as an Arsenal legend, he has all the makings to be a long term success at the Emirates.