Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has heaped praise on striker Olivier Giroud after the Frenchman reached the milestone of 50 goals for Arsenal in the Premier League (via Arsenal.com). The striker, who becomes Arsenal’s seventh player to reach that tally, was also the third fastest; taking 113 appearances to do so.
This takes Giroud into an elite club, along with the likes of Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp, Ian Wright, Robert Pires and current teammate Theo Walcott. And with several years still left in his playing career, Giroud has set his sights even higher. Speaking to Arsenal Player (via Arsenal.com), the striker said, “I’m pleased with that [scoring 50] and I don’t want to stop here. I tried to do a good job for my team-mates today and I did well with the penalty. I was the one who had to take it.
“We were very good on the counter-attack with Theo and Mesut [Özil] and [got] another clean sheet, so it was a really good day. It is a fantastic week. We did a great job in the Champions League and we really wanted to finish the week with a win. It is nice and hopefully we can have a great game against Manchester City on Monday.
“I’m very pleased with the performance today and we are in a great position and even if everything was not perfect, we had a lot of chances today which is good for me and the team.”
Giroud opened the scoring for the Gunners against Villa, stroking home a well-placed penalty after Theo Walcott was fouled in the box. In addition to his heroics against Olympiacos midweek, this takes Giroud’s tally for the month to 5, which clearly demonstrates the form the striker is in.
Nevertheless, Giroud is one of the favourite targets for critics, since his inconsistency was a big problem in previous seasons. Even at the start of this season, Giroud came under intense scrutiny during a bad spell for both club and country. Manager Arsene Wenger believes that he is criticised more than necessary however, and blamed this on the player’s lack of ‘pace’.
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Speaking to the press, Wenger said, “I believe he is at the top of his game and he is questioned sometimes. Finally, the numbers get people to realise he is a good player. [With] Petr Cech they didn’t need [the numbers] but for Giroud [he needs it]. He has improved, his link play is better and when we have the option for a long ball he is a very interesting option.
“[He does not get too much praise] Because he does not have electric pace. He is more of a player who plays with his back to goal and brings other people in, so maybe he is spectacular individually with his runs without the ball. He is very efficient and a very important player for the team. He is also mentally very strong.”
Giroud certainly seems to have improved his finishing over the past few months, and has become an efficient outlet for Arsenal’s attacks. His physical presence and ability to hold the ball up also creates space and time for players like Alexis Sanchez, making our forwards that much more lethal. Now that Theo Walcott is being played on the right wing, we have both the pace and the aerial ability up front, allowing us to switch up our play as required and cause massive problems for the opposition defence.
Once Sanchez returns, our front line will surely cause nightmares for defenders everywhere, and if Giroud continues in this vein of form, then the Frenchman could break even more records before the season is out.