Our man analyses Olivier Giroud: How good has he been, how good is he and how good can he be?
Much has been said about the French striker following his €13 million move to the Gunners from the then French champions Montpellier. Giroud had been the top scorer in Ligue 1 that year and arrived with the reputation of being a strong, physical striker who also had a good eye for goal. However, questions were immediately raised by the Arsenal faithful. Was he technically astute enough to be a classic Arsenal forward? Would such a physical player fit into the Arsenal style of play? After a fairly uneventful first season, many of these questions remain. And so, today we look at whether Olivier Giroud has the potential to become a top Arsenal striker.
Olivier Giroud was born in Chambery, but was raised in a village called Froges, which was close to Grenoble. Giroud began his football career at the young age of 7, playing for his hometown club Olympique Club de Froges. The young Olivier spent six years at the club, learning about the game he would come to love, before moving on to the professional club Grenoble.
After 8 years at Grenoble, Giroud’s loyalty was rewarded with his first ever professional contract. Giroud later acknowledged the importance of this, claiming that ‘It took me signing my first professional contract to become aware of my abilities.’
Four years after leaving Grenoble for Ligue 2 club Tours, Giroud signed for Montpellier. It was here that he had the most successful period in his career so far. In the 2011-12 season, Giroud was the joint top scorer in Ligue 1 and Montpellier won the title for the first time in history. It was his performances in that season that caught the eyes of Arsenal, and they soon bought him for around €13 million.
And so, a 25-year-old Giroud began his biggest challenge yet – playing in the Premiere League. As expected, he took a while to adjust to the pace of the Premiere League and it took him until Arsenal’s 7th league game to score his first goal. However, he netted another 15 goals in all competitions and, had it not been for a suspension in the last few games after a red card, he could easily have had a few more. A record of 17 goals and 10 assists in his first season is nothing to be ashamed of, but is he the world-class striker Arsenal need?
In my opinion, given time, Giroud could become a top quality striker. The first season in any team is difficult, but in a club as big as Arsenal and in a different country from his birthplace Giroud’s first season at the Gunners was bound to be ever harder. The fact that he still managed to score goals suggests he has the potential to improve even further.
He is an old fashioned Centre forward. He scores plenty of headed goals, is no mug with his feet and, critically, is good with hold up play, which not only brings teammates into play but also means Giroud gets more assists than the average striker. 10 assists in a season for a Centre forward is impressive to say the least. If he could improve one side of his game, it would be decision making. Throughout the season, I saw Giroud shoot from improbable angles when others were well placed, but traits like decision making take time, and experience, to develop. I think that given time, Giroud will improve from the raw talent he is today to an all-round forward and become a top striker for Arsenal.
However, we must now ask the most critical question, will he get the chance? Unfortunately for the Frenchman, it appears not. Even last year, he faced strong competition from Theo Walcott, who is naturally a winger, for the leading striker role. To make matters worse, in the current transfer window, Arsenal appear to have made it clear that they are looking for a new striker. Their interest in Gonzalo Higuain has been rather public, whilst they have also had offers rejected for controversial Liverpool forward Luis Suarez. As we have seen, Giroud took a while to get going last season, but next year he may not get the chance. If either Higuain or Suarez are at the club, rest assured that Giroud will not be given seven games to get off the mark.
And so, as Giroud tries to become a top Arsenal centre forward, my worry is not that he will not be good enough, but that he may not even get the chance to prove how good he really is.
N.Barbakadze, Get French Football News.