Robin Van Who? Olivier Giroud helps Gunners forget
Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud helps fill the void left by Manchester United striker Robin van Persie
Sometimes, the English press is a little bit presumptuous.
Wayne Rooney was supposed to have won us the World Cup by now. Pep Guardiola should have been the next person in the ever revolving door at Chelsea. And Olivier Giroud was meant to be a cowering mess, rocking backwards and forwards in the foetal position crying to go back to Montpellier.
The 25-year-old striker was apparently the worst thing in an Arsenal shirt since Piers Morgan according to some pundits, which was all completely ridiculous.
Now, I’m not claiming that he should be given carte blanche to miss chance after chance, and he has certainly missed a few absolute sitters during his brief tenure at The Arsenal so far. But, as many before me have said, the time to start really worrying is when he is no longer getting into the positions to miss those chances.
Marouane Chamakh, for example, is a cause for concern. Fernando Torres is a cause for concern. Giroud is not.
The chances will continue to come, for sure. Primarily because his movement in the final third is phenomenally good. He’ll always make room for himself, and he’ll always make room for his teammates.
Numbers don’t lie, and 13 goals and nine assists is a very decent total for the Frenchman’s first season at the club.
While there is room for improvement, some of those goals have been very good, and some of those assists have been stunning to watch. For example, his weighted chip over the Montepellier defence for Lukas Podolski’s sumptuous volley against was so beautiful that if it were a girl you’d be afraid to talk to it.
I can't help but feel that the best is very much still to come from Giroud.
This is a man who before this season had played a grand total of nine matches outside of French shores. A hulking physical presence, his career bears parallels with that of Didier Drogba’s. Both advanced through the French lower leagues, before moving to London to further their careers after doing well at their respective clubs.
Drogba at first struggled to adapt to the wildly different frenetic Premier League before absolutely dominating defenders the land over. If Giroud has an Arsenal career as good as Drogba’s, their long trophy drought will no doubt end sooner than later.
Furthermore, there is a human being to consider underneath the (exquisite) shell of a Premier League footballer. London is massively different to his native Montpellier, and he’ll need time to adapt to that too. Allow him the opportunity, and then he might adapt and flourish.
Giroud’s main crime this season has been to not be Robin van Persie. Anything that the Frenchman has done, and to an extent Arsenal in general, has been done with the shadow of Van Persie looming over the club.
When Arsenal draw, Van Persie would have won that for them last season is the narrative. Hopefully, Giroud can draw a line under Van Persie so everybody can move on.
While Giroud’s touch for his second goal against Brighton drew comparisons with RVP, the rest was Giroud in a nutshell; power, strength and a hammering left foot. He is defining his identity, seperate from the legacy of Robin Van Persie.
Some of this may be presumptuous and a little wishful and he may go on to be a giant flop. However, all I’m trying to say is that to write off Giroud basically for not being Van Persie, let alone after six months, is supremely harsh, a little hasty and, hopefully, horribly wrong.
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