Upon signing for the Gunners back in 2012, Olivier Giroud was coming off a frankly remarkable campaign with Ligue 1 outfit Montpellier HSC. He had just won the title with the French underdogs, finishing the season as the league’s top goalscorer. The unpredictable striker, who has subsequently represented his nation on the international scene, scored a grand total of 21 goals throughout the 2011/12 campaign, and successfully impressed many fans of French football whilst doing so.
Olivier Giroud may not have been the biggest name on the circuit when he first moved to the Premier League, but within the close circles of the Emirates faithful, high hopes were placed on the now 28-year-old centre-forward. Arsenal had been accused of not putting their money where their mouth is and signing Ligue 1’s latest striking sensation was supposed to quash those claims.
Perhaps then because of the initial lofty expectations surrounding the Frenchman, it shouldn’t have come as too much of a surprise when Giroud’s slow start caused many Arsenal fans to feel let down. Whilst the majority of loyal Gunners have certainly stuck by their No. 12 and thanked him for his efforts, some within the Emirates camp have undoubtedly made Olivier Giroud into somewhat of a scapegoat.
With his well taken brace sealing progress to the next round of the FA Cup however, do the Frenchman’s performances continue to deserve such scrutiny? Or has Olivier Giroud finally shaken off his critics in North London?
One important aspect of Giroud’s game comes in the form of his keen eye for goal. As his simply fantastic strike against Manchester United earlier this season clearly outlined, when the French striker is given ample opportunity in the final third, Giroud is likely to stick the ball in the back of the net. The potentially powerful striker has it in his locker to be an out-in-out goalscorer, and with over 30 goals to his name in the Premier League so far, the stats prove that he is far from a flop.
Olivier Giroud also possess admirable aerial ability, which although might not be best suited to Arsenal’s preferred style of play, can often be a get-out-of-jail card for Arsene Wenger. That said, the Frenchman’s lack of mobility across the pitch has been the cause of much frustration for some of the Emirates faithful.
His hold-up play has been known to halt the Gunners’ free-flowing moves for just that fraction too long, leaving several plays to break down and transform into counter-attacks for the opposition. His touch can simply be a bit stiff when his teammates are relying on it most, which whilst not being a major cause for concern on any level, doesn’t suit Arsenal of all teams as best as it could.
Rightly or wrongly, several of the Emirates faithful have been expecting an undisputed world class striker to arrive in North London for a long time now. With no such deal yet to be completed, the likes of Olivier Giroud often feel the full brunt of the fans’ frustrations. It feels like every top striker in Europe has been linked with a move to the Emirates at some point over the past two years, but as Danny Welbeck remains one of the only newly acquired strikers at the club, such ambitions have yet to be met.
This leaves players like Olivier Giroud in a somewhat of a difficult situation. He may not be the world class talent many Gunners fans had been hoping for upon his arrival, but as his steady progress in a Arsenal shirt has proved throughout his time at the club, the French striker can still perform his duty efficiently for Arsene Wenger. Perhaps alongside the returning Theo Walcott, or even a brand new face acquired over the summer, the former Ligue 1 star can really come into his own and develop his skills to move to an even greater level for his team.
Until then however, Olivier Giroud remains a solid, if not spectacular, striker who is always more than willing to put in a shift for his team. How longer he’ll be putting these in at The Emirates remains to be seen.