Olivier Giroud: The Target Man Arsenal Needs
Arsenal has been in search of a legitimate target man since the selling of Robin Van Persie to arch rivals Manchester United, and Arsene Wenger has identified French international Olivier Giroud as that guy.
Last campaign, Van Persie enjoyed incredible success, winning the English Premier League title and making it to the quarterfinals of the Champions League with Manchester United. The Dutchman led the Premiership in goals, a void that he left at Arsenal with his decision to go to Old Trafford.
Van Persie was capable of scoring 30-plus goals a campaign; Giroud only scored 17 goals for Arsenal in all competitions last campaign, which was an underachievement considering he scored 25 goals for Montpellier the season before.
I don’t think anyone expected Giroud to become Thierry Henry or Van Persie. All they want is a consistent goal threat that can finish with one touch and be dominant in the air. With the likes of Gervinho gone, Theo Walcott being deployed as more of an out-and-out winger and Lukas Poldolski always lacking fitness, Giroud has been called upon to be the main target man.
So far this season, Giroud has been the guy Wenger signed him to be, leading the Premier League in goals along with Belgian striker Christian Benteke of Aston Villa and English striker Daniel Sturridge of Liverpool. Giroud is starting to make instinctive runs behind and across defenders’ faces, making him hard to mark. At 6-foot-4, Giroud is a handful for any defender in the air and is always a threat to head the ball in the back of the net.
Giroud has improved his link-up play with his midfielders; his first touch has been night and day compared to last season, and he has the frame to create havoc all over the final third of the pitch whenever he shows the appetite to do so.
It will be interesting to see if Giroud can keep up his unbelievable strike rate this season and continue to improve as Arsenal sit a top the table and look to become legitimate challengers for the Premier League title — not just Champions League participants.