Despite enduring a surprise loss to West Ham on the opening day of the season, Arsene Wenger’s Gunners have nonetheless begun their 2015/16 duties in characteristic fashion.
The Champions League may once again be proving the cause of great frustration in and around the Emirates at the moment – yet when it comes to the team’s domestic league form – the Gunners have been relatively solid as usual so far this season.
However, in regards the often criticised figure of Frenchman Olivier Giroud, life in North London seemingly remains just as turbulent as ever. For one reason or another, Arsenal’s 28-year-old striker has scarcely experienced the backing of the entire Emirates faithful throughout his three year spell in the English top-flight.
So then, although the opinion-splitting front-man incidentally registered himself on the score-sheet last time out against the Foxes, will Olivier Giroud ever be fully accepted among the majority of Arsenal supporters?
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The answer could well be, no. Whilst the former Montpellier man currently tops his club’s goal-scoring charts in the Premier League alongside Alexis Sanchez, the lofty centre-forward invariably never strays far from the critic’s glare. Such has ultimately been the case ever since he was first introduced among his current side in all honesty…
Giroud can certainly score goals though – there’s evidently not much doubt surrounding that particular notion. His success rate in front of goal for Arsenal remains somewhat impressive when looking at certain stats alone, with a style of link-up play in the final third that doesn’t receive quite as much credit as it perhaps deserves.
You get the feeling that the likes of Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil experience a far greater rapport with the Arsenal fans simply based on their glistening reputations alone. Some have nonetheless recognised the current situation surrounding Olivier Giroud and subsequently labelled the striker a ‘scape-goat’ for his treatment among the Emirates faithful.
However, whist some aspects of the aforementioned line of thinking may admittedly hold true under test, some of the long-term criticism for the striker does in-fact remain justified. The likes of Sanchez and Ozil receive such a warm backing from their supporters because they are players capable of producing the goods when it really matters.
Giroud is someone who needs to miss a hat full of chances before he can finally send one in the back of the net. In big matches, such a luxury simply can’t be afforded from Arsene Wenger’s point of view. The ex-Ligue 1 favourite also proves somewhat stiff on occasion despite his apparent ability to play with back to goal, whilst also undoubtedly proving the clear undoing behind of some his team’s flowing moves in the opposition’s half.
In the end, Arsenal’s no. 12 just isn’t the world class asset many Gunners fans naively labelled him upon arrival at their club. It’s a notion that has obviously been mentioned a hundred times before – but if Arsenal had somehow sourced themselves a truly elite centre-forward to lead their line in the modern era – a player of Giroud’s overall shortcoming could have well become a potential cult hero as an impact sub or a well-placed back-up option. If his club hadn’t been so tight in the transfer market in the first place, this particular situation certainly wouldn’t be occurring with the same force it currently exudes.
It remains difficult to consistently do the business for a set of fans who have become accustomed to the likes of Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp throughout the Premier League era, for Olivier Giroud himself is just the latest in a long line to launch their ill-fated attempt at filling such prestigious boots.
Perhaps his recent criticism isn’t even of his own making however, as Wenger seems notoriously attached to operating with just one recognised striker up top at the Emirates. Flying wide-men work great on paper, but they’re not so useful when they end up spending most of their respective matches helping out in defence rather than launching the attacks. If Arsenal therefore experimented with playing both Olivier Giroud and an out-in-out strike partner – the results may in-fact surprise.
Either way though, it seems as if the struggling 28-year-old just isn’t of the class Arsenal fans are expecting at their club in the modern era. Although Giroud is by no means a bad player in any sense of the word, someone operating with his level of shortcomings in front of a fan-base as expecting as Arsenal’s, is bound to falter one way or another. It’s seemingly been that way from day one for the luckless front-man.