Olivier Giroud was much maligned by Arsenal fans in his five years at the club. He scored over 100 goals for the Gunners but he was called names like lamp-post and donkey every time he failed to score but he continued to play his heart out for the club and scored numerous important goals.
But now he has moved to Chelsea as part of the chain that saw Aubameyang arrive at Arsenal, and it would appear that this is one of the best things that could have happened to him, as he will get much more game time and can cement his place in the France squad for the World Cup.
Oli has only played twice for Conte’s team so far, but it seems he is fitting in perfectly with their system and it raises the question that perhaps Wenger could have made better use of the Frenchman’s strong points. He set up a goal for Eden Hazard in the 3-0 win over West Brom, and the super-talented Belgian midfielder had nothing but praise for Giroud after the game. ‘He’s a great target man,’ Hazard said. ‘One of the best in England, so when we pass the ball to him we can go around him – not just me, Willian and Pedro too. ‘He’s a good point of reference. So let’s play together. But it’s not just him, we have Alvaro too and I can play as a striker.’
But Giroud himself also highlighted the difference between Arsenal and Chelsea when he admitted that he was used to being left on his own up front without the undoubted support he will get from Chelsea’s midfielders, like Hazard. ‘We try to have a good understanding on the pitch,’ Giroud said. ‘Everything was not perfect because it was the first game. I’m happy but there is still room for improvement. I was very happy to set up the goal for Eden.
‘It’s simple to have a good understanding with him because he smells the game, he smells football. With him, Pedro, Willian or whoever plays as the number 10, we always try to have a good understanding.
‘It’s easy for me because the two number 10s play closer [to me] than I’ve played in the past, and that’s very important for our game.’
And that is obviously very important to Giroud’s game as well. At Arsenal Mesut Ozil plays deep and tries to find the super pass that will result in a goal, but otherwise Giroud had to rely on our wingbacks or midfielders to find him with a cross or a lob while he is surrounded by defenders. We have also seen this with Lacazette, who is often isolated on his own in the opponents penalty area, and I am thinking Aubameyang may also suffer the same way. If Wenger is so quick to call Arsenal an attacking team, then where is the support for the lone striker? With our setup it is more a surprise that Giroud still managed 100 goals but could he have been our superstar if he had the same support he will get at Chelsea?