Over the last few seasons a section of the Arsenal fans have had a similar mindset to that of the Arsenal Fan TV favourite ‘Claude’ when it comes to Olivier Giroud.
However, this player regardless of his off field antics has pretty much fitted into this Arsenal team from the moment he joined. When he arrived he offered us something completely different to anything that Arsenal were used to in a striker and probably the nearest comparison you could make in the last 20 years would be a John Hartson.
So many of our goals either individually or team goals over the last three seasons have been through Giroud. The amount of aerial battles he wins is something to behold too. He perhaps isn’t the most mobile but he is clever in the way he does get around and his runs (near post especially) and the timing of them is as good as any player we have.
Then I will speak of Giroud’s hold up play. I can’t remember a player since RVP that is able to play the target man role where you can be confident that when you give him the ball he can hold on to it long enough to be able to bring the midfielders into play. The striker has excellent control be it with his head, chest or feet and makes it difficult for the opposing defender to get the ball. The amount of free kicks (a part of his game he has mastered) that he wins in this position is also a plus.
There are always calls of Giroud not being good enough to be in our side, not being on the level of a Aguero or a Costa or perhaps a Sturridge. But I feel that is unfair. Arsenal have him in not just for his goals, which by the way he has scored 14 this season in 24 games, he is a much more rounded player and completes the Arsenal team which is very much built around our midfield area.
This is a player that is also a hard worker. Remember Giroud was playing in the French 3rd division at 22, and has since gone on to play for the national team. His season at Montpellier was his breakthrough and Wenger took a massive punt on him to come in and replace RVP. Of course he is going to take time to settle, lets be fair its not just a different country its a completely different mindset to football.
The Frenchman has also (including this season) been plagued with injury, but I would say that he probably looks in as good form now (not only goals) than he ever has not just at Arsenal but in his entire career. Yes, he missed a few opportunities against Monaco in the first leg, but be sure if we are to turn around this tie this week (which I very much doubt) he will be key in getting a result.
There would be no better player to return to France who would want to win more than Giroud. He took a lot of stick from the Monaco fans at Emirates and I would be confident that whether we get through or not Giroud will want to make his impact on the game.
Regarding the game, my head says no way, but my heart says we can still achieve it. I suppose if we can go to Old Trafford and beat Utd 2-1 there is no reason why we should not be able to go to Monaco and win 3-0… but then I look at their defensive record thus far in the tournament and I then think again….
Who knows a first half double from our big Frenchman and who knows…. it may be squeaky bum time in the second half…. here’s hoping.