Can Giroud Put a Hit-And-Miss Season Behind Him with a Stellar Euro 2016 Campaign?
Olivier Giroud ended his 2015/16 season on a high note by blasting a hat-trick past a feeble Aston Villa side, but it might not be enough to save his Arsenal career.
Reports have suggested that the Frenchman may leave the club in the summer following an inconsistent campaign for Arsene Wenger’s men. His 15-game goal drought in the second half of the season played a huge role in Arsenal’s failure to win the title for a 12th-straight year. As a result, it could be in the interest of both parties to move on, and a strong performance for France at Euro 2016, with odds of 28/1 for Giroud to be the player of the tournament at the time of writing, may allow the Gunners to cash in on the forward.
An Inconsistent Campaign
Giroud had a positive start to the season, notching 10 goals in the Premier League by Christmas, which matched the pace of Tottenham’s Harry Kane and Leicester’s Jamie Vardy. His brace against Liverpool in January appeared to have handed Arsene Wenger’s men three points at Anfield, but Arsenal were pegged back a late Joe Allen goal.
The goals would be Giroud’s last in the Premier League until May, while his side’s response to their setback would see them fall behind Leicester and Tottenham in the title race as they won only two of their next eight matches. Giroud’s struggles were well noted as he missed a plethora of opportunities, leading to criticism of his game from former Gunners.
However, he managed to end the season on a positive note by ending his drought after 15 long matches with a strike against Manchester City and his hat-trick against Villa. He matched his best tally in the Premier League with 16 goals, but Arsenal’s title ambitions demand more from their leading marksman, as proved by the days of Thierry Henry and Ian Wright.
Arsenal To Move On?
Giroud had a solid season for the Gunners but the club may look to the summer to refresh their options in the final third, particularly with an injury to Danny Welbeck ruling the England international out until 2017.
The new television deal will hand Wenger ample cash to spend in the transfer market, while Arsenal also have huge sponsorship deals with Emirates and Puma to bolster the coffers. Their contract with Emirates is worth £30m a year, which could be the difference to competitors in the Premier League, such as West Ham, who are also flushed with cash due to the money received from Sky and BT and a move to the Olympic Stadium.
Several players are expected to be on the move this summer, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Alexandre Lacazette and Michy Batshuayi all available. Pressure has built on Wenger and members of his squad over the past year, which may force the Frenchman into action following the Euros to preserve his position at the Emirates Stadium.
Giroud To Fire On Home Soil
Giroud will be under pressure to deliver for Didier Deschamps’ France at Euro 2016 along with the rest of Les Bleus as they attempt to emerge victorious on home soil. The forward has a decent record at international level, with 14 strikes in his 47 appearances, although only three of his goals have come in competitive fixtures.
Playing time will also be a concern for Giroud as Deschamps may favour playing Antoine Griezmann as a lone striker, even though the Atletico Madrid man has featured alongside Fernando Torres at the Vicente Calderon in his excellent La Liga season. Deschamps may use the same tactics to bring the best out of Griezmann, which will open up opportunities for Giroud to thrive.
France boast one of the most potent midfields in the tournament as Dimitri Payet, Paul Pogba and Blaise Matuidi reside in their ranks, while Anthony Martial will also provide an option from the wing. As a result, there should be plenty of ammunition for Giroud to work with in the final third, and Wenger believes that the forward is more than capable of racking up the goals when he gets going.
A strong spell of form over through June and July to compare to his run before Christmas could put the forward in the mix to be one of the shining lights of the Euros. He could even guide his side to glory on French soil which would serve as a significant marker of his ability.
Can Giroud Deliver?
Giroud has the talent to deliver on the grand stage as well as the motivation. He can drive France to success and perhaps grab the attention of clubs around Europe should his time with Arsenal come to an end. He will have to cope with the pressure of the occasion, but there could be no greater time to perform to his best to ensure that his career does not dwindle away.
Will Arsenal fans forgive him if he hits the heights at the Euros?