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Giroud Is Average But He's Integral To Wenger's Arsenal

Salutations fellow homo-sapiens, I offer you solace from your everyday lives by way of meaningless literature. I'll begin with some light housekeeping (feel free to skip to the next paragraph if you only care about the football related content, though I suppose this note is slightly redundant as you would have finished reading what I tried to help you avoid reading had I not written this for you to read ... but I digress).

I haven't written for a while, I'm sure no one particularly minded or noticed but just in case I have one adoring fan (my ego is so inflated right now) I'd like to apologise, I could say that I've been busy with work (and that's true) but the main reason I haven't written is because I've lacked inspiration. I'm not sure that I've rediscovered it so I'll do something boring, I'm going to talk about Giroud, a bang average footballer.

giroud arsenal away 2014 2015 goal celebrate fist pump

First of all, let's deal with the elephant in the room. I'm writing this after Giroud has just had one of his best games in an Arsenal shirt (the West Ham one). In that regard I suppose it is fair to say that I have an agenda but Giroud still has the power to undermine me. "Giroud had a poor game against Monaco" is an understatement and I write this before our next fated encounter with aforementioned team. Consider this to be the noose I am happily tying around my neck and if he repeats his form from the first leg then I will certainly look a fool and he will have given further ammunition to his detractors.

Okay, so there is also a smaller elephant to address and that's that everyone and their monkey seems to be writing a Giroud themed blog post and I just want you to all know that I wanted to write this a while ago so I'm not just jumping on the bandwagon. Pfft. In the crowded landscape of bog standard blogs and mass produced articles I guess it is already difficult to stand out so maybe I'm over-thinking this one. Any perception of uniqueness I have is entirely misplaced and no matter what I do the Simpsons have probably done it already.

Last ramble before I get to the small amount of football related content I wish to share. I'm currently on the central line and the knowledge that no trains are stopping at Tottenham Court Road never ceases to make me smile. A rose by any other name smells just as sweet unless you call it Tottenham #ShakespeareIsAGooner.

GQ Giroud. I don't know if it is my lack of male envy or my natural bias for any player that wears the iconic colours of The Arsenal but I like Giroud. I think he is massively underrated in most respects and better than our fan base give him credit for. The same fan base that systematically swoon over the likes of Dzeko, Higuain, Bony etc.

giroud gq

The rhetoric bores me immensely, "Giroud doesn't score in big games", United, Spurs, City, Liverpool ... "But he hasn't scored against Chelsea" ... Continue generic moaning about a lack of effort, he's too slow, too bothered about his hair etc etc. To each of these points there is a reply and it is trivial to the point that I won't waste your time in repeating them.

Here's what I will say. If you expect Giroud to be the 30 goal a season striker that scores every chance in every big game then guess what? You'll be disappointed. That kind of player is rare, expensive and a generally terrible idea for a club that has our injury record (even if it is slowly improving).

Don't get me wrong, Giroud's chance to goal ratio is comparable with other top forwards in the league and main reason he doesn't get 30+ goals ... is because our team doesn't facilitate it. Or to put it another way, our team simply doesn't need it. We have goal scorers in Alexis, Walcott, Cazorla, Ozil etc etc. Giroud's "job" is to add aerial presence when both attacking and defending (and don't tell me that isn't his job, compare Arsenal defending corners with and without him, the results are obvious), to occupy the central defenders so as to pave the way for willing runners, intricate link up play and acting as an attacking fulcrum that is just as willing to assist as he is to score. An average player in many respects that utilises the strengths he does have well and makes up for the ones he doesn't by relying on the pace and skills of those around him.

I like that we don't need a team that relies on one player ... well actually that's a lie. The player our team relies on is Giroud. You miss him when he's gone or when he goes missing (his inconsistency last season was due to being reliable to the point that he had to start every game). I'm a big fan of a team that is diverse in it's attacking threat and any team that had a reliance on any sole player is risky, every player has their bad days and you need contingency plans.

giroud goal west ham 2015

This lack of contingency plans is where I feel justifiable criticism can be made. Over the years we just haven't had enough options, we play a certain way and if that way doesn't work then we're buggered. Right now the way we play is based around Giroud and we are slowly seeing the integration of different systems. We could for example play an interchanging forward lineup of Alexis, Welbeck and Walcott with Ozil in the Bergkamp hole. A formation to really push the opposition's defence back to afford ball players like Santi more time in the middle. We could for example play a 4-4-2 with Alexis playing off Giroud, much like the Dzeko Aguero partnership.

We have options but here's the thing. Alexis and Welbeck haven't even been here a full season so there are bound to be teething problems. When Alexis played as a lone striker we saw our players confused when they crossed the ball. They seemed so used to having a gorgeous French man waiting in the box and they seemed to struggle to adapt. That's natural, developing chemistry takes time but don't tell me that Alexis and Welbeck haven't both exceeded expectations.

I got sidetracked slightly from Giroud but here's what I think in as a succinct way as I can think to put it. Giroud is integral to the way we play, that isn't his fault and his form this season has been much better as the likes of Alexis, Welbeck etc mean he doesn't have to start and finish every single game. The issue with our attack doesn't lie with one player instead it lies with a reliance on that player.

I hate bringing everything back to financial resources and Wenger but if after buying players like Alexis, Özil etc Wenger fails to lead Arsenal back to former glory then maybe a change is needed. But I also think it takes a pretty astute manager to build a team around someone who was in the French second division at the age of 23. It is testament to Giroud's resilience that he has reached the top flight of English football and to simply say he doesn't have enough fight is borderline stupid. I don't think Giroud is the future of Arsenal's attack in the same way I don't think Alexis is.

The future of Arsenal's attack is in variation.

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Tags: Olivier Giroud, Wenger, West Ham, Monaco

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