THE BLOG

Why Olivier Giroud Has Often Been Underappreciated During His Time At Arsenal

09/01/2017 17:24 GMT | Updated 09/01/2017 17:25 GMT
David Price via Getty Images

When Olivier Giroud latched onto Alexis Sanchez's cross, acrobatically flicked the ball over his head, and in off the bar against Crystal Palace on New Year's Day, there was a sense of shock around the Emirates.

A scorpion kick? Olivier Giroud? Surely not... But it happened, and it was a moment of brilliance from a man not often associated with the more intricate, stylish aspects of the game.

Giroud has had a reputation among many as a lumbering, cumbersome, but mildly useful target man, who occasionally offers something different in attack.

The reality is, though, that he has been far more than that. The Frenchman has been a generally consistent and reliable performer since he made the move to London from Montpellier in 2012, but the main problem is that he has had to do it alone.

Giroud arrived at Arsenal shortly before Robin Van Persie left the club, and since then he has had to take on the goal scoring burden (in terms of strikers anyway) on his own. While he hasn't been as prolific as the Dutchman, there has often been an unfair expectation that Giroud should be scoring at least 20 goals a season.

The simple reason that that hasn't happened is because Giroud is just not the type of striker that bases his game solely on goals. For what he can offer, and the strengths he possesses, he has been almost a complete success since his arrival four years ago.

That's not to say that his scoring record has been poor. He has passed double figures in the Premier League in each of his seasons to date, and twice totalled 16 goals. This season he has six goals to his name, and has scored in each of Arsenal's last three league games.

But Giroud offers far more than goals. The buildup to the now famous scorpion kick goal demonstrated the excellent ability he has to link up the play, and his passing and technical quality is often ignored.

Something he has never been given the opportunity to do at Arsenal is play as part of a front two. With France at the European Championship last summer, Giroud played alongside Antoine Griezmann with the intention of utilising his target man attributes to provide for the Atletico Madrid forward.

It worked to great effect, and it's something that could probably be used at Arsenal, perhaps with Sanchez playing off the Frenchman. That doesn't seem likely under Arsene Wenger, but it would certainly provide an alternative option should Arsenal need it.

Nonetheless, even playing as a lone striker Giroud has proved to be more than just a useful squad player. Taking into consideration that he was signed for just £12m (a minuscule fee in today's financial environment) and he also looks a bargain.

For that price, what more could really be expected of the former Tours forward. He has provided a steady and consistent number of goals, more assists than he gets credit for, and now arguably one of the best goals in Premier League history.

This season in particular has required Giroud to demonstrate another side of his game - patience. The majority of his appearances prior to recent weeks had been made from the bench, with Sanchez preferred as the lone striker, and understandably so given the Chilean's impressive goal tally this season.

But when given the opportunity to prove himself, Giroud did so in style, and seems to have regained his place as Arsenal's lone striker. Whether or not removing Sanchez from the role will ultimately prove an impediment to the Gunners success this season remains to be seen, although Giroud can't take the blame if it does.

There really is something inherently likeable about the Frenchman, whether it's his industrious determination to succeed, or just his immaculately groomed beard. Either way, with a contract extension seemingly on the horizon, Giroud should be more readily appreciated for what he has routinely offered Arsenal over the last few years.