The New and Improved Olivier Giroud; carrying Arsenal through the season

This is how it
used to feel wasn’t it? You know, the winning. The mental capability to win
when the chips are down and all of this whilst we play expansive free flowing
football.

Mesut Ozil’s
introduction to the rank has been seamless and has added the pizzazz we have
been missing for what feels like an eternity. It’s all rather refreshing and
in-keeping with the feel-good factor around the club, I’m going to continue to
ride the wave of positivity and give credit it where it’s due and to my player
of the season so far: Olivier Giroud.

Here
is a striker that came in prior to Robin van Persie’s departure but would start
the 11/12 season as his direct replacement. Sadly with The Emirates crowd,
first impressions are everything and big misses against Sunderland, Liverpool
and Chelsea were to follow. It wasn’t until a Capital One Cup tie with Coventry
City that he broke his duck and even in that game he missed a penalty. He
started to settle and the goals flowed and then dried up but he finished with
17 goals. It wasn’t until a late slip at Fulham led to missing three games and
suddenly his presence was missed (even though we were to draw one game and win
the other two).

You
see, the thing with Giroud is that he needed time and it wasn’t just him, it
was the side as well. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to acknowledge that
both he and van Persie have different playing styles, so naturally it would
take time to fathom out his strengths. You also have to factor in that of our
front three plus attacking midfielder, that three of the four were new to the
club. Our attack had to complete re-design itself.

How many
times do we, as supporters, fall foul of writing off players before they’ve
even really started? I’ve done it on countless occasions and on one of those
occasions Robert Pires was in question after the Amsterdam Tournament. Now, I
may have been slightly intoxicated but we’d lost the pacey Marc Overmars and
recruited a dud, or so I thought. Overmars was pacey and dynamic but he also
had a telepathic understanding with Dennis Bergkamp. Pires took his time but he
started to show encouraging signs and before you know it, he’s a world class
footballer. Just think about that sort of thought process, as many of you
reading will have written off the Frenchman at some point.

Giroud
also had to manage the step up to a new bigger team and a different league.
Again, not to be underestimated, given little in the way of excuses. That type
of signing means he has to prove himself all over again. Goals in Ligue 1 count
for very little I’m afraid. I attributed his early misses to this pressure. He
seemed too tense in front of goal, he was snatching at the ball and seemed to
miss before he’d even made contact with the ball. That’s down to tension, if
you aren’t relaxed in front of goal, then bad things will happen. I’m not sure
how many of you have played centre forward (the level is irrelevant) but if you
miss chances, that goal, in your head, gets smaller with each missed
opportunity. Giroud’s confidence seem to peak when he appeared off the bench
against Newcastle United, this led to goals at Brighton & Hove Albion and
at home to West Ham United and Liverpool. The penny began to drop, he realised
he was worthy of a place and he knew he could make a difference.

So
what has changed since last season? Well for me everything, his touch,
finishing, leadership and desire have all been of an exceptional level.

Touch
– As a front man, your first touch is everything. Forget that midfield double
pivot that fans are fascinated with, it’s all about the axis of our attack. If
you look at the balls to Theo Walcott and Aaron Ramsey last Saturday, they are
straight out of the top drawer. It’s not just his passing touch either. His controlling
touch has improved tenfold and that has benefits on both sides of the ball. It
relieves pressure on the defence and he can move the team up the field.

Finishing
– Quick question do you know how many shots he has had in the Premier League
this season? Five. That’s right five shots on target and four goals. All four
strikes have been clinical and that has been the theme of his finishing this
season.

Leadership
– At the beginning of last season there was a chance for Giroud at Liverpool.
He elected to shoot and not slip in Kieran Gibbs, not a whole lot wrong there
but Gibbs nearly blew a gasket. Now that Giroud has settled, you can he is now
the one doing the berating. His confidence has blossomed and he is perfect to
spearhead our attacks.

Desire
– Let’s be honest, he isn’t the quickest around but if you possess the desire
to win the ball back, often pressure alone came reap its rewards. He has grafted
his pods off for the good of this team and all of this with an underlying knee
problem.

The
best part about Giroud, is there is still more to come. The side has realised
his worth and the likes of Walcott will continue to benefit from his proper
centre forward play, as we supply him with quality weapons all over the
attacking third. Giroud has carried us this season, as is much documented, he
is our only genuine threat upfront and whilst it would have been easy to
crumble under the exact same pressure he experienced last season, he has
galvanised our forward play and dragged the side by the scruff on the neck and
for once, we have a platform to build upon. Long may that continue.

Michael Jeffares


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2 Responses to The New and Improved Olivier Giroud; carrying Arsenal through the season

  1. Julien Cromer September 20, 2013 at 3:39 pm #

    very well written article. I couldn’t agree with you more, he came into the side with big shoes to fill (RVP). That being said there are high expectations across the board. Perhaps one day Giroud will be able to do what RVP did (score a goal out of nothing). Either way he does a fantastic job of including his teammates, and bringing them into play.

    • Michael Jeffares September 21, 2013 at 1:03 pm #

      Thanks Julien. I think it won’t be long before expectation levels rise and he is expected to maintain this standard. I think he’s capable of achieving that though. Also, re: RVP – Would you class his goal against Sp*rs as scoring something out of nothing?

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