What does Olivier Giroud have to offer Arsenal?
With all the craziness happening at Arsenal in the last few weeks, at least we’ve had the stellar news that Wenger has signed a couple of attacking players to fill the van Persie void. It seems more and more likely that the Dutchman is off to, of all places, Man City and, though that pains me greatly (you know, in my heart), I’m feeling more and more reassured by the business we’ve done thus far.
The most recent pick up for Arsenal has been Olivier Giroud. Like many of you, I had no idea who this guy was until the rumours started flying around twitter that we’d signed a French striker. My first thought was, Hey wait, Thierry is a French striker and we signed him a number of years back and, if memory serves, he worked out pretty well for us; maybe there’s something in this new rumour.
As it turns out, Giroud is on a somewhat meteoric rise, what with the fact that just two years ago he was leaving Ligue 2 club Tours and joining Ligue 1 for the first time with Montpellier. After a shaky, first season there, he took 2011-2012 by storm, becoming the league’s top goalscorer. Not bad for someone who was really only just out of his proverbial footballing diapers and is now 25 with his best years ahead of him. If you’re interested, he scored 21 goals in Ligue 1 (the same as Nenê of PSG, but Giroud took the title because he scored more from open play), and assisted 9 other goals.
And speaking of titles, Montpellier were Ligue 1 champions last season, in no small part due to Giroud’s contribution. It’s the first time in the history of the club that they’d gained a top flight title and our new boy was a large part of that. So, naturally, he wins big things at that club and moves on to arguably greater challenges here at Arsenal. What I find interesting and reassuring is that Wenger seems to be bringing in players with a bit more experience than the club is used to seeing (Mertesacker and Podolski in particular), but also players who have won honours with their clubs: Podolski has a Bundesliga title from his time at Bayern Munich, André Santos has a league title from his time at Fenerbahçe right before joining Arsenal last season, Gervinho won Ligue 1 and the Coupe de France with Lille, and now Giroud adds to this trend. It was no surprise that for the last couple of years, very few of our players had any real experience winning any major cups or titles, making them inexperienced and perhaps lacking in a winning mentality (or so the discussions that took place on social media sites seemed to suggest). This may be a change in direction for Wenger, bringing in winners to help add confidence to the team.
Anyway, that’s a little on Olivier Giroud and where he came from. Below I’ve linked to a video of some of his goals with Montpellier. You can see a comfort and confidence around the box, as well as a good sense of positioning to set up goals. He’s almost 6’4″, so he should be one of our most prolific headers of the ball, which would be a great asset, since I think van Persie scored the lion’s share of our headers last season and we all know how unlikely it is that he will be here to do the same this time around.
FYI: Giroud is foremost a central striker, but I’ve been playing him wide in place of Walcott in FIFA 12. He lacks pace, but pops up in the box to score when least expected. Just saying.