Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Olivier Giroud, The Next Big Thing?

By Vidur Kalive.

Arsene Wenger is lauded as one of the best managers in the world. This credit is well deserved. He is a manager who hasn't seen much joy since the historic season of 2004-05. No trophies have entered the cabinets of the Emirates stadium, players have left the club in wholesale and transfer seasons have ended in frustration for the gunners. Yet you ask why he is considered a formidable force to reckon with? It’s his managing of a squad devoid of star names to Champions League qualification year after year for the past decade and a half that has impressed even the greatest of footballing minds.

Wenger snubbed the desires of a fanatic fan base when he sold the club’s prized possession, Robin Van Persie. The sale left a huge void up front for Arsenal, a void which called for splurging in the transfer market. Wenger brought in three players to bolster and reinforce the Gunners’ attack: Podolski, Cazorla and Giroud. While Cazorla took up the responsibility on the wing, Podolski and Giroud were given the uphill task of filling Van Persie’s shoes. Podolski was a reliable source of goals for the fans as his reputation preceded him before his move to North London. The scepticism lay on Olivier Giroud and the £12 million Wenger spent on his move from Ligue 1 side Montpellier. 

Giroud scored 21 goals in 36 appearances for Montpellier in their record title winning season in the wake of financial domination by sides like PSG. In hindsight, Wenger was smart to get Giroud’s signature. His career at Arsenal took off slowly but its safe to say Giroud has started to silence his critics. The recent coming of form in the midst of the Walcott fiasco and his contract uncertainties. After 32 appearances this season, Giroud has found the net 13 times and has taken a staggering 61 shots, with 9 assists. Though these figures may not be as impressive as his counterparts in other big clubs, it is safe to say these stats are commendable considering he has had to adapt to faster, more intense style of football in England. At 6’3 and 195 lbs, he is physically strong and header-friendly. His stature enables him to hold up play and take on the Kompanys and the Vidics of the premier league. Giroud brings with him the added advantage of central midfielding abilities: holding play and bringing his team-mates into the mix.

Olivier came into the club when gooners were still trying to get over the loss of Van Persie. He may not have the same charisma or technical skill, but he is a good striker in his own way. With the right support and if relieved of pressure of playing for one of the biggest clubs in the world, he will definitely come good. If the West Ham game is any indication, Arsenal have found themselves a potential spearhead in their attack.

(You can follow Vidur Kalive on Twitter: @vidurkalive)

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