Giroud can be the real deal for Arsenal
Following Arsène Wenger’s possibly subjective but not unconvincing approach, Arsenal fans are learning to love Olivier Giroud like their leader does. Mild-mannered, cleanly presented and even a wine buff, Giroud’s on- and off-field virtues have been extolled both by his former club, Montpellier, and French football circles with boisterous pride. And Wenger will have been no stranger to Giroud’s qualities when he signed him.
As for pleasing the Arsenal fans, all Giroud has to do is prove he is not another Marouane Chamakh.
Now, with Emirates insiders reporting extra shooting practice and extended training sessions – each apparently at the player’s request – it is becoming clear Giroud wants to repay his new employers for taking a risk in signing him.
Publicly, he’s perfectly balanced – reserved in both word and deed. Yet on the other hand, Giroud believes he can replicate his form of last season, both with regards to his top-scorer status and winning Le Championnat, and has insisted nobody should discard Arsenal as title challengers. Relocating to England can prove difficult, but this feisty hunger, and regular visits to a French-inspired restaurant in West Hampstead, have helped him to settle. However, with just two goals – one in the Capital One cup – since signing in the summer, and players such as Gervinho responding to the competition for places, will the Frenchman really hit the mark?
He still has every chance. No doubt encouraged by how many goals are arriving from across the team this season, Wenger will persevere with crowning his 4-2-3-1 formation with the 26-year old. And while the Gunners boss has spoken of his interest in signing a striker when the January transfer window opens, Wenger remains confident Giroud can play a meaningful role as a Robin Van Persie replacement in the longer term.
Let’s be honest: everyone knew from the outset that Giroud would not explode into England’s top-flight. His solitary Premier League goal for the Gunners, against West Ham, in 11 appearances does not represent a great return for a striker, particularly when this is balanced against his 16 shots. He didn’t even score against his old club. The scene was set for Giroud to open his account in the Champions League last month, after La Paillade had slumped to 16th in the table. But Montpellier were curiously strong and even though Arsenal came from behind to record a 2-1 win, Giroud’s unique knowledge of how to handle René Girard’s men failed him.
His four assists, however, and the way he’s drawing authentic praise from those inside the club are valuable. He is a stirring talent. His sheer size brings a power to the attack that hasn’t been seen since the days of John Hartson.
But for all that he is physically imposing, he can appear fragile of mind. International duty usually spells injury fears, but what if, as rumoured, the polite, perhaps rather soft, Giroud continues to struggle to ingratiate himself with his own countrymen? Surely even trying to slot into arguably the most Gallic of all English clubs isn’t going to be any easier?
He will start for France against Japan tonight, meaning he has the support of both club and country bosses. He will need further coaching on how to handle the Premier League, but he has the necessary intuition and eagerness.
With the full support of his manager and a formation which will exploit his strengths, Giroud need never worry about being mentioned in the same sentence as Chamakh ever again.
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