Giroud Confirms He Should be Arsenal's First-Choice Striker
Within five minutes of coming on during Saturday's Community Shield showdown between Arsenal and Chelsea, Olivier Giroud proved unequivocally that he is the best option to play as the Gunners' central striker.
It was Theo Walcott who got the start ahead of Giroud, a somewhat questionable decision in itself considering the physical nature of Chelsea's central defenders. Arsene Wenger would have been counting on Walcott to use his pace and movement to turn John Terry and Gary Cahill inside out, but Walcott was mostly ineffective, lacking the strength to hold on to possession against the thuggish Chelsea defenders, and worryingly giving the ball away on a few occasions in the defensive third.
Credit is due to Walcott for providing the assist for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's game winner, but it was Mesut Ozil's sublime vision, and Oxlade-Chamberlain's exquisite finish, that were the crucial ingredients of the goal.
Arsenal sat deeper for much of the second half, and Chelsea were poor in their finishing, an area that must be of concern to Jose Mourinho. Theo Walcott drifted out of the match more and more, and became a passenger to proceedings, as he so often has in his time with Dial Square.
As Arsenal came under barrage, the game was crying out for Giroud. At last, that moment came, and Giroud was introduce for Walcott in the 66' minute.
The big Frenchman's hold up play nearly lead to a goal within seconds of his introduction as he immediately proved his value to the team after a well-intentioned, simple layoff to midfield. The textbook center forward play created the time for Arsenal's winger to get forward in a dangerous wide area, and Oxlade-Chamberlain provided an inch-perfect, measured ball, for a half-volleyed attempt on goal. Giroud started the sequence, and then peeled off with stealth perfection to receive, and blast at goal.
Theo Walcott is often praised for his movement, and it is exceptional, but Olivier Giroud, despite lacking pace, makes extremely intelligent runs, and his penchant for siring space, opening windows, and paving grass-carpeted passing lanes is fantastic for such a big man
It was an overall emphatic, telling, arrival on the scene for Giroud that only got better, as within minutes he produce two more attempts on goal.
The first chance fell to his right foot, courtesy, again, of his ability to decorticate from his defender with inherent guile, finding a small-pocket of space to offer himself for a low driven Aaron Ramsey cross, but he could only blaze the pass over the woodwork. Giroud should have been more clinical with the chance, weaker foot or not, and at a minimum should have put the ball on frame. The second attempt came at the top of the box, Giroud found space to fire one off with his preferred foot, and it looked to be guided to the top corner, but it was blocked by the body of his own teammate.
Three attempts on goal in 5 minutes of play. Three more attempts than Walcott could muster in 60 minutes on the pitch. The difference was staggering, and as the game progressed, with Arsenal pinned deep, Giroud continued to display his full-set of attributes, particularly the value of his hold up play, winning a free kick in the dying minutes of the match to halt any sign of a Chelsea equalizer.
There is no question that Giroud must be more efficient in front of goal if Arsenal want to win the Barclay's Premier League title. He must answer this criticism and address his conversion rate, but based on the career trajectory of the former Montpellier man, and knowing how far he's already come, all signs indicate that he should be the Club's first-choice striker...