Today, I will mostly be talking about…Olivier Giroud.
The reason for this is a hybrid of things I read, said, heard and watched yesterday, all linked to our appealing Frenchman.
Yesterday I noted that his form has been excellent and, after tweeting that I thought he could be on for 20 goals this season, I also listened to the Arsecast with messieurs Arseblog and Gunnerblog in which they also spoke in glowing terms about our strapping centre forward. James from Gunnerblog even suggested that had Giroud been fit all season, we could be looking at a player on course with a 30 goal season in all competitions. Hard to argue semantics of injuries based on his goals pre and post the leg break, so I can certainly align with what James was saying.
Giroud has had an excellent return to the team by all accounts. He’s now on ten goals for the season and has added ‘big game goals’ to his repertoire. If he carries on scoring – and there’s no reason to suggest he won’t at this stage – he’ll surely get to that 20 mark. But the question that was posed on the Arsecast by a listener got me to some serious thinking; at what point does Giroud get recognised as a ‘world class’ striker? And how do we define ‘world class’? As was pointed out then on the podcast, if you’re talking about Messi or Ronaldo, then he will never get there I don’t think. He’s not that technically gifted. But I see Messi and Ronaldo as ‘once in a generation’ players. Pele, Maradona, etc, have all been world class, but we’re they the only players in their generation that were world class? Because at their peak they were ‘once in a generation’ and were pretty much untouchable by other players playing the beautiful game.
So what is ‘world class’? To me I’d give it my own personal definition of:
The best 15 to 20 players on the planet, that have consistently demonstrated their ability over a period of seasons to be the best in their designated position.
So essentially, what I’m looking for when I describe ‘world class’ is consistency. Doing it for a number of seasons – three or four onwards perhaps – and doing it at the highest level. I’m not so fond of the ‘can they do it at international level’, because George Best was world class yet was born in wrong country to show it on the international stage. So that doesn’t work for me.
So to Giroud; can he ever reach ‘world class’ status in my mind?
I mention about ‘positions’, but I’m a little loose on that definition actually, because I don’t think that Sergio Aguero and Olivier Giroud play the same type of position. Sure, they occupy it on a team sheet, but to compare the two as to who is more effective is like comparing apples and pears. Giroud is better in the air, holds the ball up better, but doesn’t have the explosive pace or natural finishing ability that Aguero has. So whilst Aguero has managed to make a name for himself as ‘world class’ as a striker, I think Ollie G can do it too under my definition. He just needs a couple more seasons of consistent performing as he has done this season when not injured.
Think about it: at the end of the 2016/17 season, Giroud has turned 30 and has just reached his third season in a row of getting more than 20 goals in all competitions. He’s also – because of his natural link up play – contributed to a heck of a lot of assists during that time and is revered by us all. How could he not be considered ‘world class’?
Of course, I know I’m dealing in extreme probabilities, because a lot will happen over the next two years. But if Giroud does continuously improve as he has done since arriving (this season he’s added goals in ‘big games’) at The Arsenal to date, I think we’ll look back on his time at the club when he does retire and recognise him as one of our greats.
It is on him to continue his trajectory though. He himself after the game said he is trying to work on the mental side of his game and to me that says that he’s a player who is constantly wanting to improve. He wants to know what he can do to get better. That’s the trait that all ‘world class’ players exhibit in my opinion. That innate drive to be the best.
He may be maligned by some Arsenal fans, but carry on scoring this season as well as take that form into next season, and I think there won’t be many left that question his overall ability and importance to our team.
Cheerio for today.