Olivier Giroud has now surely silenced his critics after his stunning treble fired Arsenal to the knockout stages of the Champions League.
The Frenchman, who has always cut somewhat of a marmite figure at the club, now appears to have finally come good just over three years since his arrival from Ligue 1 side Montpellier.
Giroud now has 14 goals in 24 appearances for the Gunners this term, and his performances may silence those who were eager for Arsene Wenger to swoop for the likes of Karim Benzema or Gonzalo Higuain in the summer.
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Knowing that the club needed a two-goal win to pip Olympiakos to second spot behind Pep Guardiola’s Bayern Munich, Giroud saved his finest performance in an Arsenal shirt for the most important evening of them all.
Failure to progress would have been a huge blotch on Wenger’s unblemished record, with the Frenchman now having guided them through to the knockout stages of the competition for the 16th year in succession.
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His compatriot has often had his critics, with former star Thierry Henry amongst them, but the way he rose to the occasion in the cauldron of Karaiskakis Stadium suggests he may have finally matured.
The misfiring forward that failed to sufficiently replace Robin van Persie in the summer of 2012 looks a different proposition altogether now, and his memorable European hat-trick means he has become the first Arsenal player since Henry to net a treble on the European stage.
Despite splashing the cash on the likes of Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil in recent years, Arsenal supporters were desperate for the club to invest in a world-class centre forward during the summer.
Benzema was the name most heavily linked with a move to north London, but the nature of his performances for Real Madrid this term suggest it would take a mammoth bid for Rafa Benitez to consider selling him anytime soon.
The same can also be said for Argentinean forward Gonzalo Higuain who, after being touted to join the Gunners since the summer of 2013, remains amongst their targets. Yet his goals are firing Napoli ever closer to a first league title since 1990 and signing him appears as difficult as it did two years ago.
With Danny Welbeck due to return from injury in the New Year, Wenger’s attacking options will be boosted. With Giroud in fine form, the player who regularly frustrates Arsenal supporters may now fire them to the trophy they crave the most.
Arsenal fans: Would you be happy to not sign a striker in January if Giroud keeps up his current form? Give YOUR opinion in the comment box below!
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