Olivier Giroud – The New Chamakh or a Key Arsenal Player In The Making?

ARSENAL signed left footed French International, Olivier Giroud from Montpellier this summer for a fee in the region of £12m. He has had a somewhat slow start to his career in England, but recently scored his first Premier League goal, and has shown an ability to create goals for those around him. What can we expect from him this season?

Giroud arrived after being tied top scorer in France’s Ligue 1 last season with 21 goals for Champions, Montpellier. He also finished 6’th in the assist charts with 9 assists. It helps a French player to settle in when there’s a French manager and five French players in the Arsenal squad, including his best friend Laurent Koscielny. Giroud told French newspaper L’Equipe:

Why did I choose Arsenal? Because it is a club I love and I thought it would be easier for my adaptation. Arsenal is a great club, the facilities are wonderful, but I feel it is a club that takes big care before signing a player, notably considering human values. There are French players. There is also Arsène Wenger, who let me understand he really wanted me.

Giroud is very close friends with Koscielny after the pair spent a season together at Ligue 2 side Tours during the 2008-09. The 25-year-old striker told the club’s official website:

He’s very respectable and serious in his work. You can trust him, and his behaviour on the pitch is important. I like when a guy concentrates and is serious. He is a very good player and a very good guy.

With Chelsea offloading Nicolas Anelka last season, and Drogba and Lukaku departing this summer, Giroud appeared an ideal signing. However Giroud preferred Arsenal – “Chelsea is very nice, it is a great club, but I am not convinced Di Matteo knows who I am.”

Even though he took 6 games to score – in the League Cup against Coventry – he has been contributing in other ways. At Stoke, he gave a very good display in attack, holding up the ball excellently. He did, however, shoot from 30 yards out when Ramsey was positioned for a good chance. At Liverpool, his movement was absolutely brilliant, and at West Ham, he finally scored a league goal whilst also setting up Walcott’s excellent clincher. In fact, Giroud is top of Arsenal’s assist charts this season, with an assist away to former club Montpellier, one for Arshavin’s goal against Coventry, and an excellent piece of target man play to flick a goal-kick on for Ramsey to score against Olympiakos.

Giroud’s movement so far has looked absolutely excellent. He made a very cleverly bent run for a potential winner against Sunderland, but skewed his finish wide with his weaker right foot. Against Liverpool, his movement to drag Agger away and create space for Cazorla to run in to (and then pick out Podolski for the goal), was brilliant play. He later had a very good chance after a Cazorla pass, but again rushed the finish and missed the target. He should have scored against Chelsea after more excellent movement on to a pass from Oxlade-Chamberlain, but could only hit the side netting. He got a lot of criticism for the miss, but he had only small part of the goal to aim at with Chelsea players covering the line and Cech’s desperate scampering to put him off. His aforementioned first Premier League goal at West Ham was again down to superb movement in the box. You can’t help but feel that he would benefit from having Walcott picking out his runs for cut-backs and driven crosses – something which was a common sight between the English winger and Robin Van Persie last season.

Speaking to Canal+ after the game, Giroud said he was pleased to have scored and that he was targeting 12 goals for the season:

Seeing the ball in the net is something I expected. I am now baptised and I hope there will be many more. I expected it to be difficult at first because the Premier League is a level higher and I’ve had to adapt. I am confident that I will score more goals. Why not a dozen like in my first season at Montpellier?

Twelve goals sounds like a very safe target. Perhaps Giroud is attempting to lower expectations somewhat. It seems unambitious to aim for the same goals tally that he managed in his first season at Montpellier, when he was not a League Champion or a French International, or playing for a big European club in the Champions League. However, it’s important to remember that Giroud is learning at the very top level. He had never previously played Champions League football, and has only a few caps for France.

How Wenger will use Giroud is interesting. After leaving him on the bench for the opening league game, Wenger said that he saw Giroud as more suited to playing with a strike partner. Of course, the likelihood of a switch to 442 is remote, so it may be that Cazorla plays much higher up when Giroud is in the team. It may also be that Giroud ends this season with more assists than goals, especially with several midfield players who are capable of getting on the scoresheet, and three wide players (Podolski, Walcott, Gervinho) who look to get in to central goalscoring positions. Giroud has also shown Wenger that he can do a good job in away games, and it may be that a more mobile, vertical centre forward (Gervinho) is preferred at home. The question is whether having the goals spread around the team gives Arsenal a better chance of success or not. I’d argue it does.

About Grant James

Grant James is a professional football analyst and coach who holds a UEFA B Licence, FA Youth Module 2, CAF B License, the Prozone Level 3 in Performance Analysis and has a one-year diploma in Sports Coaching Science from ETA. All views are his own.

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4 Responses to Olivier Giroud – The New Chamakh or a Key Arsenal Player In The Making?

  1. Jade Manasse October 16, 2012 at 8:50 PM #

    Agree totally, can’t understand why so many Arsenal fans, my brother a main culprit, are so critical of him. That numbskull Piers Morgan as well! His movement is outstanding, and I’m sure he’ll get 15 plus league goals.

    • SeBlueLion October 16, 2012 at 11:13 PM #

      You make the perfect point by highlighting the main asset of his play, his brilliant movements. You didn’t insist on the goal thing and you were right to do so considering he never based his confidence or form on goals, that has always been the cherry on the cake. Except between January and June 2011 when his deal with MHSC was already acted (was signed and loaned back straight after) where he gave the impression only to contribute with goals.
      He shall score a dozen goals this season indeed, that’s his tally for Montpellier but at Tours as well on his 1st season. I was lucky enough to see both Koscielny and Giroud play for real nearly 5 years ago, that’s fascinating to see them on Match of the Day now.

      Actually his Tours FC career started in a certain way after his brace against RC Lens at the end of October. I’m not fond of the “has he managed his first shoot, his career may would have been completely different” stuff (heard about Downing last season). But Tours was promoted from National (3rd division) and hosted the team having ended the season as 5th then 18th the previous seasons. Tours even wore a special kit with yellow and red squares (Lens’ coulours) that night, that was the 1st Tours game shown on TV that season etc…
      He eventually scored 9 that season without being the 1st choice (that was Tenema N’Diaye who used to put a mess in every team’s dressing room he played for and experienced two playing spells in China…). The 2nd season he really scored 21 goals virtually out of nowhere as most of the players that made the unexpected success (including Koscielny) left in the Summer 2009.

      Misc: he was one of the 2 players to earn the Ligue 2 player of the year without having been promoted for the last 10 seasons, by far the lowest ranked collectively speaking (10th iirw)

  2. harry October 18, 2012 at 8:31 AM #

    He needs more time to adapt. It took HENRY 9 goals to score his first goal and then went on to be a legend. Giroud has got great movement on the pitch and help the other players around him to score as well. I personally think he will come good and get some 15-20 for the club

  3. Marc October 18, 2012 at 1:34 PM #

    Its refreshing to see an Arsenal striker make superb runs. He is willing to make runs in to the box and get on the end of crosses eagerly, something which has been lacking. Even the great RvP was guilty of not being hungry enough to get on the end of some balls i feel, then again he was good enough to score goals…when he wants. His aerial ability should come in handy, but given Arsenal’s haphazard policy of putting in crosses, it may not be all that useful unless its coming from goal kicks.

    Although it will be interesting to see just how much he plays. Given Wenger’s comments on seeing Podolski as a CF. But like the good old Wenger we know and love, what he says and does is often “little bit” contradictory.