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Giroud deserves our appreciation

olivier giroud arsenal

Giroud's incredible scorpion kick finish to open the scoring against Crystal Palace has been the source of much debate, discussion and many articles. The quality of the goal has seen an outpouring of love for Giroud with many pundits and fans alike professing to have always believed in his technical quality. However, he still splits the fans. Why?

Is it because, historically, Gooners are used to seeing a fast forward making penetrating runs and dragging defences hither and yon?

Giroud arrived with big shoes to fill and perhaps arrived from Montpellier with greater expectations placed upon him than any other striker in the modern era at Arsenal. He not only had to replace an in-form and on-fire Robin van Persie but emulate the successes of Messrs Wright and Henry.

We all know he is not that type of footballer but regardless he is one to watch out for. He has made progress on his overall play as well as improving his direct goal contributions - albeit not to the standard of numbers of players past. The scoring talents of players like Ian Wright come a few times every generation and rarely at the same club so for Wrighty to beat Cliff Bastin's club record only for Thierry Henry to surpass that scarcely more than a decade later has perhaps skewed what we expect from our forwards.

Is Giroud meeting or even exceeding realistic expectations though? Comparing him to the past is maybe not entirely fair given the names the Arsenal history books boast. What of his peers? Well, that tells an altogether different story.

Olivier has scored 7 goals from 23 shots this season. That is world-class. Ibrahimovich may have more goals but putting aside the fact he has played over three times as many minutes it took him 90 shots to score 14 goals. A 15.5% conversion rate. Giroud's is 30.4%

Of course, there are variables to consider but in fair comparisons only Cavani and Aubameyang are near to our striker. Lewandowski, Benzema, Suárez, Aguero, Higuain, Diego Costa and Zlatan all have worse stats this season. His contributions this season have been remarkable. His goals have been important, point winning goals, but also he has proved an accurate provider with 3 of the 7 chances he has created being converted by a teammate. When you compare per-90 totals Giroud just looks incredible.

Giroud is a striker that gives the team an edge. He can break down tight defence lines because of his height and quality on the ball. When Arsenal play against opposition with a lot of possession he restricts Arsenal's chances to get goals from fast counter attacks but this doesn't mean he is not an entirely valuable member of the squad. It's worth remembering that whilst there are limitations to his game, the majority of teams in the Premier League are not going to get that much possession against us so he's not just a supersub who is only good for a rough up against a bottom half team two or three times a season.

Olivier has a lot of range; he can score from crosses with a header, on the volley or half-volley, one-touch finish from a clever near post run, from long-range and the spectacular. His scorpion kick goal was a once in a lifetime finish but for me it is the team goal against Norwich in 2013 which stands out - combining several times in a tight space to let Wilshere score with ease.  

For me is like something antique, a relic from time gone by. He is an old fashioned striker but that is to his benefit. He delivers something to the game that not many do. I think he would have been more appreciated had he played in a different time because he brings something the modern era has lost. With the development of pitches helping to raise the quality of passing headed goals have become the goals of defenders. Strikers are expected to finish passing moves or slalom between defenders before bamboozling the 'keeper. Strikers aren't really scoring headers any more and that has taken something away from the game. Not Giroud though. No player in the Premier League has scored more headers than Giroud since he has arrived.

Giroud's contract extension is a hugely positive thing for Arsenal. We've secured the future of one of the most effective yet underrated strikers in the game. It is likely to be Olivier's last contract with us and I doubt he'll score a goal to top that scorpion finish but at least I hope that goal will teach us all to enjoy him whilst we have him.

Edited by Daniel Cowan

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