Frenchman deserves a permanent spot in the Gunners side…
Olivier Giroud is fit and healthy following the broken foot which kept him out for the early months of this season, and should be one of the first names on the team-sheet as Arsenal look to delve further into the Champions League and gain ground on Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United in the top flight…
The Frenchman’s played five matches since his November 22nd return, scoring three goals in an accumulated playing time of only 252 minutes. Arsenal have won two of the three matches he’s started, although he was admittedly poor in the 3-2 defeat to Stoke City.
Now he’s fully up to speed though, Arsene Wenger needs to make him the figurehead of the side.
What Giroud provides Arsenal is a genuine spearhead, and his effectiveness should not solely be measured by the number of goals he scores. The 28-year-old Frenchman’s hold-up play is up there with the best in the Premier League, meaning he helps Arsenal keep possession close to the opposition goal.
This is crucial, as it enables the talented playmakers and runners around him time in which to find space, play intricate passes, and get themselves into shooting positions. The Gunners pride themselves on the technical ability and speed of their diminutive attacking midfielders, but these stars need somebody to play off… Giroud usually plays with his back to goal, meaning he can control the ball in central areas, before choosing which player to pass to. From here, Giroud can peel off and get himself in a dangerous area, or make a movement which creates space for a teammate to enter.
With the likes of Alexis Sanchez, Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Danny Welbeck all playing around him at varying points, Giroud’s lack of pace is not so much of a problem. The fact he provides strength, height and an aerial threat instead (proved by his header against Newcastle at the weekend), actually maximises the effectiveness of those around him. It means the pacy players can run beyond him, and that he’ll be able to score from one of their aerially delivered crosses, too.
While the likes of Welbeck, Walcott and Sanchez provide a more dynamic (arguably more exciting) centre-forward option than Giroud, they don’t have the ability to bring others into play in the same regard. Welbeck and Walcott want balls to run on to, while Sanchez should be deployed deeper to maximise his time on the ball and ability to create. Lukas Podolski is probably the finest finisher at the club, but his inability to keep possession and play with his head up makes him a non-viable centre-forward option.
While Giroud’s finishing is inconsistent (it’s occasionally brilliant, of course), his ability to act as a focal point in Arsenal attacks, the power he provides the final third, and the space he creates for Arsenal’s speedy forwards should make him one of the first names on the Gunners team-sheet – regardless of how many times he finds the back of the net.