Can I admit to having an opinion that I have had for some time, that I find suddenly wavering in the light of some new evidence that I’ve come across?
I’ve long held the belief that Olivier Giroud gets a hard time by a section of our fanbase. He’s just not some peoples cup of tea. He has patches of great form, he scores a decent number of goals each season, he is a strong player (certainly stronger even than when he arrived) and he is a good target for the wide players to feed from.
Yet having watched the always excellent Breakdown on the official site and seeing that Arsenal have created more chances in the box in games than anybody else in four of the five highest chance creation games this season, I am starting to question whether a more deadly striker is the most pressing need for us when we eventually get to the summer.
This isn’t going to turn into a Giroud bashing blog, by the way, because I think he’s a good player who has served us well, but I am starting to think that a real deadly finisher is what we need more than a target man who brings others in to play. Especially when you look at those numbers on The Breakdown.
There will be many who will, at this juncture, point out that it is not Giroud taking all of those shots and missing inside the box. Of course they’d be right and if you look at 7amkickoff’s regular by the numbers piece on Arseblog, you have enough statistics to show that there are others like Ramsey, Alexis and Walcott who haven’t been converting enough. I get that. But unfortunately for Giroud his position is one in which he will, as the central striker and focal point in the attack, always be judged when you see those numbers of opportunities created in an opponents box. That’s just what central strikers have to deal with. That’s why the position is the most glamorous, because it comes with the most risks, because if you aren’t prolific in front of goal then you’re scrutinised more and judged harsher than any other position.
Sure, there are others that need to improve their shot-to-goal conversion rate, but like I say I am wavering on the opinion that Giroud is enough. I’m wavering on whether he should remain first choice central striker and when you see clinical finishes like Cavani’s last night, it doesn’t do anything but can the flames of my hesitancy over Olivier. I didn’t watch the game – I couldn’t stand to watch that abomination of a club from West London – but it’s my natural human nature to see a goal of that calibre and wonder what might be if we had somebody who would put away a higher percentage of his chances.
Inevitably though, it’s a tactical decision that Arsène will need to make, because changing the style of the player at the top of the team will mean we have to play differently if we upgraded on Giroud for a clinical striker. It will mean we have to look less towards leveraging a target mans strength and ability in to play, and more for a man who will run channels, play in behind the last man and also be in positions in the box – when we get the ball out wide – where Giroud just doesn’t get to some times. Perhaps we go back to the halcyon days where we never put a cross in because Thierry just wouldn’t get there?
Giroud does have a place at Arsenal. He’s a player who can ensure that we ‘mix it up’ a bit on certain games. Arsène has spoken of doing this between Giroud and Walcott at the beginning of the season and whilst it looked for a time that we would change our central striker based on the opponent and where their defensive fragilities lay, it is clear now that Giroud is first choice and quite frankly, Theo isn’t trusted. The Leicester game at the weekend should have been one of those in which a player with superb movement across the Leicester line was able to unpick their defence. But because Theo wasn’t deemed to be in form enough, Arsène didn’t trust him like he did for Leicester away. That’s why I think we need to consider a leathal finisher as priority number one in the summer. We’re too reliant on Giroud and unfortunately, he just doesn’t seem to take enough of the chances he gets in the box, which is a shame because he seems a likeable enough character. He’s even stopped that annoying hand-flicky gesture when he’s picked up a knock.
Perhaps you think me harsh? Perhaps I should not think such thoughts against a player who has shown his value at Arsenal over a number of years. But as I said above, this isn’t meant to be a Giroud bashing exercise, merely an admission that for the first time I’m starting to see what many of his detractors have spoken of in relation to our ability to have somebody better.
Quite who that could be I really can’t be bothered to get in to right now. I thought I’d just give you my thoughts, and welcome yours on the matter, so why not let me know in the comments?