This is not an immediate overreaction to a disappointing result against a top club. (which sounds quite familiar, doesn’t it?) Instead, it’s frustration that can no longer be contained and must be released to prevent a heart attack. Arsenal’s desperate need to buy a new striker is so apparent that my American father, who knows absolutely nothing about football, could spot Olivier Giroud doesn’t get it done-at least in the big games.
Opponents to the argument will say that the wrongly disallowed goal is the reason for the “unlucky” result. While Ramsey’s goal should’ve stood, clutching to an offsides misruling at home so early in the match is a desperate scapegoat. The glaring takeaway that Arsenal fans must realize is that Olivier cannot lead this team to a title challenge.
Ironically, the overall team’s performance demonstrated the massive strides they have made with the acquisition of Cech and Coquelin’s emergence. The keeper proved any ridiculous claims that he was past his prime and Le Coq displayed, yet again, that he can be the defensive plug that Arsenal need. But the final piece to the spine fell short yet again in an important match. Giroud’s squandered chance 6 yards away from goal sparked a feeling that was all too recognized. Even if Benzema, Aguero, Cavani, Suarez, or Lewandoski spurns that chance, there is no way strikers of their magnitude miss opportunities like that throughout the season.
Unfortunately, Giroud seems to provide these frustrating misses in big matches all the time. Furthermore, the misses proved not only to be costly for Olivier but all resulted in either disappointing losses or draws. Giroud’s first costly miss in a big match was on his first appearance against Stoke (while not against a big club, still a big moment personally as it was his first start for the club) After being played in by a beautiful ball from Santi Cazorla, Giroud, alone with the keeper, missed wide, and a chance to win, from 8 yards out.
That same year, Olivier missed a chance to even the score-line against United, but failed to finish. In continuation of his inaugural season with the Gunners, Olivier missed a header that would have been the leading goal at home against Manchester City. The next example was, as Sky Sports says, “a glorious opportunity to open the scoring” when Arsenal lost at Stamford Bridge to Chelsea 2-1. Finally, to conclude the 2012/13 season Giroud missed another chance from point blank range in the home leg against Bayern. The “should-have-been” goal would have leveled the score 2-2 and surely changed the momentum of the tie.
Perhaps berating Giroud’s misses in big games for his first season at a club as big as Arsenal is a bit harsh. While he was the leading goal-scorer in Ligue 1 the year before his arrival, Olivier’s jump from a club like Montpellier to Arsenal, added along with him being the following act to RVP, is a rather big step. However, these big game misses never went away. The following season, the Frenchman “was guilty of a hat-trick of misses within 5 minutes,” according to Sky Sports again, in the 6-3 defeat to City. I then witnessed (for my only game ever at the Emirates) him missing a chance to grab all 3 points in a last-minute winner against Chelsea at Christmas. These examples of Olivier failing to finish proved extra costly as it dashed away any hope of a legitimate title challenge that season.
While last season Giroud displayed his improved finishing, his multiple missed sitters was the reason for the club’s 6th consecutive Round of 16 exit in the Champions League. Additionally, if Theo didn’t equalize in the away match against United, Giroud would have been condemned for his inability to put the ball in the back of the net when it counts.
It is important to remember that these examples of Giroud’s poor finishing in big games do not classify him as a bad striker. His goals in against Bayern, Monaco, Reading (in the crazy League Cup match a few years back), and in the North Derby, coupled with his 42 premier league goals in 100 appearances proves he has been a good buy for Arsenal Football Club. But these matches, with the exception of the North London Derby and last season’s away trip to Manchester City, are examples that have no pressure attached. In other words, the away ties in the Champions League were already lost as the team had nothing to lose in both games. There simply wasn’t going to be any scrutiny if Giroud didn’t score in those matches. In fact, the only big game against a big club that Giroud scored was away at Manchester City last season. But that makes sense to have that return from a striker who cost only 13 million pounds.
Prior to the beginning of the season, John Terry and pundits said Petr Cech is worth 15 points to a football club. Yesterday’s performance proved his worth. But with the missed chances, those 15 points might as well be 9 with Giroud as the number 9. If Arsenal wants to win the league this season, they must get a striker better than Giroud. The age of big clubs finding “diamonds in the rough” is effectively over. If a club wants a big player, they must spend big; because otherwise it will be another year of frustrating results.