One of the few saving graces for Arsenal in this absolute mess of a transfer window/preseason is that Olivier Giroud is scoring for fun, albeit against inferior opposition. The Frenchman looks sharp, lively and well past that “period of acclimatisation” to English football. It’s still early doors, but it is a somewhat uplifting fallback for the club and its supporters.
The problem is it would be very Arsenal to look to the short term and the tunnel vision of having a fit and firing striker in Giroud. Arsene Wenger has a knack for falling in love with his players all over again and neglecting the obvious need for strengthening. Giroud, as good as he has been and could be this season, is not the primary answer for the question of challenging for the Premier League title. Money still absolutely needs to be spent.
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Here’s an interesting statistic: Olivier Giroud arrived in England from France at the age of 25 and scored 17 in all competitions. Didier Drogba transferred from Marseille to Chelsea at the age of 26 and scored one less in his debut season. Now I’m not going to fully suggest that Giroud is on the path to replicating the form of Drogba in English football, but I also don’t want to dismiss the possibility. The size, potential power and scoring prowess is very similar between both players. Giroud, after all, is only 26 and can still do great things in the Premier League for Arsenal. His shooting accuracy came into question last season as he wasted many good opportunities over the course of the campaign. But let’s not forget that Luis Suarez also had a similarly frustrating time in front of goal two seasons ago.
But as I wrote earlier in the summer, I don’t believe Arsenal need to spend big on a striker, though a good player is still a must; the club need to do better than, say, Bafe Gomis. Let’s not totally put it past Wenger to pull something out of the hat. The Eduardo signing happened with absolutely no media coverage or sparks of obvious interest. The player clearly caught Wenger’s eye the prior season when Arsenal met Dinamo Zagreb in the Champions League qualifier, and also impressed against England. Had it not been for that injury, the £7.5 million investment could have turned out to be a phenomenal piece of business. And as Wenger said last week, the club are looking for “quality,” and obviously that isn’t always represented accurately in the price of the transfer.
The hope among Arsenal supporters is that Giroud follows in the footsteps of his close friend Laurent Koscielny, making the switch from Ligue 1 to the Premier League and carving out a reputation as one of the league’s finest in his position. It’s not beyond the forward. He’s an international who has a league title under his belt; there is something impressive about lowly Montpellier forcing one final uprising against the spending power of France’s dominant forces.
For now though, the club simply can’t rest on what they have. Doesn’t competition force an upturn in performances as well as morale? There’s no doubt that Gonzalo Higuain could have been an incredible boon for the club, but efforts have to be focused elsewhere, especially with the latest reports of Suarez looking to remain at Liverpool “for now.”
Big money doesn’t have to be spent, and even though the club have backed themselves into a corner by suggesting that big fees and big wages can be spent this summer, a striker with a reputation and a history of scoring is of greater priority than the fee his club commands.
Will Giroud’s form this pre-season save Arsenal millions in the transfer market?
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