I have always been a huge fan of Olivier Giroud. From the moment he signed from Montpellier I could see he was a player capable of great things.
While he was not in the mould of the best Arsenal strikers that had come before him, that certainly wasn’t a bad thing.
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The fact that he wasn’t a Thierry Henry or a Robin van Persie put many people off however, and he came in for a huge amount of criticism when he first arrived. He was judged almost exclusively on his goalscoring ability, which is far from the only facet of his game.
The Frenchman’s career hasn’t taken the same trajectory as many of the greats of today’s game, with things not really taking off for him until he was well into his 20s.
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He struggled in the French lower leagues for years, before finally breaking into Ligue 1 – and eventually winning the competition – with Montpellier.
His improvement as a player has seen him steadily rise rather than bursting onto the scene in eye-catching fashion, with his stats showing that he grew as a player with each successive year at a club.
He did it at Tours, he did it at Montpellier, and he has certainly been doing it at Arsenal.
Now 28-years-old, Giroud has become a lethal goalscorer – with 14 Premier League goals this season in just 20 appearances. He has an extremely impressive ratio of one goal every 96 minutes, which is up there with the best in Europe, not just in the English top flight.
The Frenchman’s tally has only been bettered by Harry Kane, Diego Costa, Sergio Aguero, and Charlie Austin this season, and that is despite the fact that he has missed three months of action with a broken foot.
Giroud has scored in all six of his last games, with his injury time goal during our 4-1 win over Liverpool this past weekend making it 10 in 10 for the HFB.
His goalscoring form has been unrivaled in 2015, which has caused him to finally get some real recognition. He was hugely important to the way we played long before this purple patch however, and his contribution to the side cannot be understated.
The powerful forward adds some real physicality to a side that is seriously lacking in that department, and his work-rate – both in attack and defence – is immense.
Combined with the fact that he holds the ball up well, brings his teammates into play, and boasts a deft touch and superb passing ability, means he really is a complete forward.
One of the major criticisms of Giroud is his lack of pace, which is certainly noticeable at times. He makes up for it with his movement however, as he is able to find himself pockets of space where others could not, and the speed of the three players behind him certainly makes up for his own shortcomings in that department.
Many Arsenal fans have called for a world class replacement in the past, with Giroud labelled as not good enough to guide us to Premier League – or Champions League – glory. We would be hard pressed to go out this summer and find a player better than the French forward however, as there just aren’t that many around.
Giroud’s performances this season have shown just how much quality he truly possesses. As a result, he has not only begun to silence some of his critics, but many are beginning to actually recognise his excellence.