The star of the show, undoubtedly Oliver Giroud; coming back after a two-game rest and a rather controversial week off the pitch, the France international produced two tidy finishes to give the Gunners a foothold in the match, before providing an assist for his side’s third of the afternoon.
So in homage to his man of the match display at the Emirates, here’s three reasons Giroud is vital to the Arsenal cause, illustrated throughout the powerful forward’s 90 minutes.
The Frenchman may not be everybody’s cup of tea – in fact, it’s hard to envisage Giroud getting into the starting XI of any other side in the Premier League’s top four – but in the absence of a world class striker at the Emirates, he’s unquestionably stood up to be counted.
The 27 year-old’s brace against Sunderland this afternoon puts him at 16 goals for the season, including twelve in the Premier League, which gazumps the likes of Theo Walcott, Mezut Ozil and Santi Cazorla by some way. Giroud’s top scorer status only comes under threat from the injured Aaron Ramsey, who currently has eight in the league.
Just to put that into Premier League perspective, the Gunners front-man’s 12-goal haul outweighs the goalscoring efforts of Wayne Rooney, Robin Van Persie, Loic Remy, Alvaro Negredo, Romelu Lukaku and the entire Chelsea strike-force this season.
Here’s his first against the Black Cats;
Piers Morgan was very impressed…
BOOM! 1-0. Great team goal, smart finish by Giroud – and continued lack of any apparent interest from Sunderland in playing football #afc
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) February 22, 2014
And as if bagging two goals wasn’t enough of a contribution from the Frenchman, he also played a pivotal role in Arsenal’s third of the afternoon.
This zesty flick-on amid a classic piece of Gunners build-up play demonstrates a side to Giroud that’s as important as his goals – the ability to bring midfielders into the game and regularly turn up with telling assists.
His supply to Tomas Rosicky, who accordingly applied a smooth finish, is the striker’s seventh of the season, putting him just one behind assist machine Mesut Ozil in the club rankings.
Admittedly, Olivier Giroud has been privy to a two-game rest before this afternoon’s outing against Sunderland, but once again the Frenchman put in an incredible shift for the Gunners and lasted until the final whistle, despite his sharpness being in doubt.
With no adequate understudy for the 27 year-old currently on the Emirates roster, this makes 25 starts out of a possible 27 for the 6 foot 4 striker. Most impressively, Giroud has been taken off early just eight times this season – only once before the 75 minute mark- and despite that, he’s still one of the hardest working players in the Arsenal starting XI, as pointed out by these Gunners fans on Twitter:
Wish he was more prolific but hold up play and work-rate is quality! #Giroud
— Jamie Balmer (@JamieBalmer93) February 22, 2014
Giroud's work-rate is unquestionable
— Salad (@Only1Invincible) February 22, 2014
Go on the boy! 2 goals in 30 mins, exactly what giroud needed imo! Great work rate for that goal too!
— Bill (@Bill_OS) February 22, 2014