Why Olivier Giroud Deserves More Credit For His All-Round Contribution To Arsenal

Olivier Giroud Arsenal

While so much talk has centred around Olivier Giroud’s shocking first half miss during Arsenal’s spectacular 3-3 draw with Liverpool, the burly Frenchman’s overall contribution shouldn’t be overlooked as a result of this one mistake.

Giroud was brilliant, definitely one of the best afield, on his way to bagging a well deserved brace. The man who’s now scored 18 goals in all competitions for the Gunners, and 12 in the league, constantly asked questions of the Reds’ backline, who really struggled to find definitive answers for his wicked blend of power, aggression and finesse.

Giroud was made to work hard on the night, however, for Kolo Toure and Mamadou Sakho, Liverpool’s centre-backs, had a clear plan to impose themselves physically on the Frenchman from the outset. It must be said that, while he didn’t win every duel, Giroud coped manfully with all the antagonistic attention directed his way.

In fact, he seemed to relish such engagements. This was well depicted when he instigated the move that opened the scoring for Arsenal by winning a towering header over Mamadou Sakho. Although he suffered a knock during this duel with his countryman, he quickly returned to the heat of battle after receiving treatment.

Giroud also showed his thoughtful approach to winning aerial duels in this contest beautifully, for he’d cunningly drift over to the left whenever Petr Cech would launch a goal kick. By doing so, this allowed Theo Walcott, Arsenal’s left winger, to drift infield into the space that Toure vacated when he tracked Giroud. Walcott would subsequently look for a flick-on from his teammate, with a keen eye on capitalising on Giroud’s clever creation of space in such a promising area of the pitch.

Furthermore, Arsenal’s big man had to call upon his strength when dropping deep to link play with his colleagues, for he’d always have one of Liverpool’s centre-backs on his hammer. He held them off with a high degree of comfort, which when combined with his ability to intricately link play and crafty off the ball movement, ensured he posed his markers with a huge challenge to limit his influence. His back to goal link play was a particular weapon in counter attacking situations, where he often laid the ball off expertly into the path of an onrushing teammate to kickstart moves.

Importantly, the 29-year-old rewarded himself for his exertions on the scoresheet too. While his first goal, an opportunistic flick on from a corner, had an element of fortune attached to it, there could be no doubting the skill and purpose attached to his second.

Here, after receiving Joel Campbell’s pass inside the box, Giroud instinctively shifted the ball to the right, which generated just enough space and separation from his marker, Toure, to shoot. And shoot he did, as the big man rocketed his left-footed finish into the bottom left corner of Simon Mignolet’s goal. His initial moment of genius was certainly capped off with a finish to match.

Despite Arsene Wenger’s men succumbing to a late Joe Allen goal to draw the game 3-3, Giroud encouragingly continued his splendid run of form against another high calibre opponent.

“He had more chances but overall he had a positive performance,” Wenger said in his post-match interview. “It was not easy. He was exposed many times to a very physical battle. He was precious for us.”

Former England forward Gary Lineker also had high praise for Giroud after the match, saying: “Olivier Giroud is an extremely underrated player. His intelligent movement and finishing are exceptional. He’ll always score plenty of goals.”

A man never far from criticism, Giroud is a player who is seemingly on a never ending mission to prove himself and silence his critics. At the moment, however, he’s doing that in the best possible way – by scoring plenty of goals.

Goals shouldn’t be the only metric used to judge the 29-year-old, for he’s an absolutely crucial figure in terms of the balance and structure of this Arsenal side. Being a technically sound, physically imposing presence amid Arsenal’s slew of smaller attackers makes him so vital against the many physically geared adversaries Arsenal have, and will continue to, face.

Wenger pleasingly knows his worth extends far beyond just goals. “He is not only a goalscorer—he works a lot for the team. He is among the best strikers in Europe,” he mused.

Giroud will continue to face questions relating to whether he’s the man to lead Arsenal to their first title in 12 years over the coming months. But if he keeps up his remarkable form and the Gunners end up taking home the coveted EPL trophy, maybe then all his doubters might finally be forced into silence and appreciate his quality.