Olivier Giroud splits opinions amongst the fanbase, much akin to his manager Arsene Wenger, as one demographic brands him as one of the best strikers in Europe while the others label him a lamppost. To support either claim, he hits double figures every season while also missing sitters every now and then. Does he really deserve to lead the Arsenal attack?
Premier League boasts forwards such as Sergio Aguero and Diego Costa, who dribble, run through defences, flaunt incredible statistics and gets credited, and also Olivier, who hardly reflects the attributes of a modern striker, playing with his back to the goal. In a team that has created the most clear-chances in the top-flight, shouldn’t he sit atop the goal-scorers chart?
How Olivier deserves to start, contrary to popular belief
“What I know is Giroud works very hard for the team and has a fantastic mentality,” said the Professor.” “If the team does well, it is down to him and, if on top of that he scores 20 or more goals, he has done his job.”
- Arsene has masterminded a system in which his striker has more responsibility than just scoring goals and his compatriot should be doing that role to perfection to be on the team sheet week in, week out. Needless to say, Olivier has assumed the role of a jobber at Arsenal.
“I need to take positives and to harden myself mentally. I cannot simply take refuge in work. It has been for several matches now that I have played less, that is for sure, but I do not need to be worried. I need a bit more game time but also to believe more in my abilities.” – Giroud said after a poor run of form.
- In addition, his professionalism also stands out, given his reaction to him being benched in favour of Theo earlier this season. The striker lived up to his words and regained his status as an automatic starter, scoring 13 goals in 14 games since returning to the starting lineup. You need such fighting mentality when your team aspires to clinch the title.
“Your pride is hurt. He’s talking about your daily work. It’s not a pleasure, but I had to face many other things. Maybe, he was angry because I needed fewer games than him to score 50 goals. More seriously, it will give me more desire to show what I’m capable of. I will try to prove he was wrong as soon as the season starts.”
- Thierry Henry jumped onto the bandwagon stating his former team could never win the title with his countryman leading the lineup. In response to his claims, Olivier reminded him of an easily forgettable fact and pledged to prove his detractors his wrong. Having notched up 16 goals already, he has all but done that.
Why Olivier is unique and quite irreplaceable
Arsene Wenger finally has amassed ample quality to have a crack at the title, with the likes of Santi Cazorla being the focal points of the buildup. However, the focal points, despite their undoubted wizardry, succumb in the event of the opponents resorting to being physical. Hold up has proved to be effective in helping the diminutive magicians; not a lot of strikers are as good as Olivier at holding up.
“If you go on counter-attack of course, he is not the kind of player that you want or select first, but when you dominate the game and need a presence in the box there is no better player than Olivier Giroud.” – Wenger (Source: 90min)
Arsenal often seem to flounder when Olivier fails to outmuscle the centrebacks, with their humiliation at Southampton proving the very assertion as their attack looked toothless when he had failed to outmuscle José Fonte and Virgil van Dijk. However, the Gunners have been at their scoring best when Olivier does deliver.
Why Olivier is the right man to spearhead Arsenal
The Frenchman has perfected the art of opening up spaces for his comrades and when he operates with someone like Mesut Özil, who can make unlocking rock-solid defences look easy, players that make shrewd runs emerge benefactors. Aaron Ramsey, known for his brave runs, won over the fans in his breakthrough season, bagging 16 goals while he had managed only two in the previous season, despite featuring in a dozen games fewer. Is that a coincidence? I don’t know.
Let us analyse a few goals that the Welsh international scored to be crowned the best player of the season.
Aaron kicked off his fine goal-scoring run with a worldie against Fenerbahce in the first leg of the Champions League qualifiers, but when you take a closer look at the goal, you may be able to comprehend the importance of Olivier in the buildup of the goal. The Canaries’ defenders gifted him time and space to finish, but was it not down to Olivier subtly grabbing the attention of two defenders?
Three weeks later, he opened his Premier League account by being at the end of a Carl Jenkinson cross and much akin to his goal at Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium, the Sunderland defenders offered him everything he would need to put the ball past Keiren Westwood. Olivier managed to keep two Sunderland shirts within his reach as the Arsenal number 16 smashed home.
Later that season, in his dream return to Cardiff City Stadium, he managed to beat the ‘keeper twice, but the Olivier involvement in his opening goal bears testimony to his role in the upbringing of a lethal goal scorer. The 25-year-old would have scored nonetheless, but should thank Olivier for dragging three defenders – who would have otherwise pressurized the goalscorer – with just his index finger.
When Olivier did not indulge in distracting or owning or outmuscling defenders for Aaron Ramsey to find the back of the net, he kept himself busy by assisting him instead as five of his goals came off the boots of Olivier before his final touch. However, it is to be noted that playing through the middle also had its role in the transformation.
Why Arsenal should sign a free-scoring right winger
The Introduction of Alexis Sanchez into the starting eleven forced the London club to espouse a different attacking dimension as goals started emanating from the left flank, which the Chilean inherited from Lukas Podolski. Imagine the scenes when Arsenal land an equally prolific right winger, who uses the space Olivier creates as effectively as Alexis.
Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Joel Campbell, though impressive, do not quite cut the mustard, stressing upon the need for signing a free-scoring right winger. Given the fact that Olivier holds the magnet to attract centre-backs, a top quality right winger, who does not fear shooting from distance is certain to position the Ashburton Grove side among the world’s best clubs.
Why Olivier does not get the plaudits he rightfully deserves
Unfortunately, off-the-ball movement and astute hold-up play never fetches you accolades. However, the 29-year-old striker has improved in the aspects of the game that were never his strength when he signed for Arsenal. The former Montpellier marksman lately shoots from outside of the box while also showing up against the big teams, scoring decisive goals against Bayern Munich, Liverpool, the Manchester clubs.
Thanks to the turmoil that the likes of Chelsea find themselves in, Arsenal have been given the opportunity to disprove their critics and if that happens, Olivier Giroud will go on to become the most loathed Arsenal legend of all time and can be expected to retain that title forever.