Let’s talk about Olivier Giroud by AF
I remember the first time I heard of Oliver Giroud, I was at the Nigerian Law School and my friend Tokunbo asked that we should watch the clip of some French bloke that there were strong rumors that Arsenal were interested in. We saw the clip together and to be honest I didn’t think much of the dude. This happened sometime between February and March 2012, and with “he who must not be named” still in the team I didn’t think we would be interested in this dude whose clip I wasn’t impressed with.
A few months down the line we had in fact signed him, a French striker, with little international exposure by way of appearances with the national French side at the time. But things weren’t so bad I felt at that time. ‘Why?’ you would have asked? The following would have been my answers:
1. We had “he who must not be named” so the addition of another striker for me was nothing but luxury and a back up to him.
2. We had not to long before, completed the signing of Lukas Podolski, a striker with proven international pedigree.
3. He was joint highest goal scorer in the French league and had in fact just won the title with his little fancied Montpellier side .
With the above highlighted – especially the first answer given, I never expected he would lead the Arsenal attack line early in his career at the Emirates. I should add that another pleasant thing about signing Olivier at the time was that he was signed pretty early on in the transfer season, and quite swiftly (by Arsenal standards).
Then things started to change pretty fast, ‘he that must not be named’ made his annoying and heart breaking statement, and next thing this new premiere league recruit was leading the attack line of my beloved club.
I remember his Premier League debut, a home game against Sunderland where he came in as a substitute, and missed a good chance towards the end of the game (which we ended up drawing). A few games later he missed a sitter against Liverpool and I remember the reactions of everyone around me, saying that Wenger had done it again! He had brought in another Chamakh and I couldn’t help but agree. This was because he somewhat struggled with the style of play of the EPL.
But, like every fan of the football club, I wasn’t going to write him off completely – simply because he was one of us and you want all your players to be successful at the club except for maybe Adebayor. And for me there were pointers that he could be successful. The major pointer for me being that from his record at previous clubs he always made yearly progress in terms of his goal scoring – and that for me was promising. That told me that he could improve. When his first season came to an end I however wasn’t really encouraged.
The 2013/2014 season started off and he came up with a goal on the first day of the campaign in a game we lost by 3-1 against Aston Villa. And as the season progressed he seemed to have settled a lot better into the style of the team and the EPL. But I must admit, I wasn’t completely convinced or confident in him. He simply seemed to look like he would never be that man you had complete confidence of being able to lead the Arsenal attack line. At the end of the 2013/2014 season he had racked up 16 goals in 36 games which was progress compared to his 11 in 34 EPL matches in his first season.
Now we are half way through the 2014/2015 season and MY does it fill me with confidence to see Olivier lead the arsenal attack line. He seems to have mastered his role in this team with his many flicks and dummies and also scoring important goals in big matches, something he was criticized for not doing enough of in his first two seasons at the club. All this, it must be mentioned, he has been able to sustain despite having a somewhat injury plagued season. He seems stronger and more agile, in addition to massively improved composure and finishing. All these attributes making for a more effective and lethal Giroud. Yes, he lacks pace but makes up for that with all the other essential attributes of a striker.
Right before we signed Ozil, Wenger had tried without success to bring in an upgrade on Giroud but failed. My question now is ‘what realistic upgrade is there on Giroud out there at this time?’. The answer is definitely not many. I remember posting a comment on Arseblog last season, where I shared my opinion at the time, that we need a definite upgrade on Olivier. Well, barring us bringing in a 50-60 million pound striker which, with the experience of Torres and Falcao doesn’t necessarily translate to the player being an upgrade.
At this moment, I honestly feel that there are probably just a handful of strikers who at this time an upgrade on Giroud. I’m please to conclude at this time that this seasons Giroud (except for the Giroud who played against Monaco in the first leg) is of the highest quality.
I’m confident in the ability of this Olivier Giroud to lead the Arsenal attack line at the least until the end of next season.