It’s no surprise that Olivier Giroud was named in France’s starting line-up against Georgia, as he went into the game off the back of a superb start to the season; four goals in five appearances before kick-off last night.
He seems to have worked very hard on his game over the summer, which has led many Premier League sides stumped with how to deal with him as he enjoys a great spell of consistency.
Former Chelsea target Guram Kashia of Vitesse Arnhem produced an efficient display in Georgia’s back four as France mounted serious pressure with Giroud right at the very top of the attack.
It’s clear why Chelsea took a look at the centre half back in 2011 because he seemed to have an air of calm and maturity around him when other members of the Georgian back four seemed more concerned with sending the ball into orbit.
The striking feature of the way Kashia played when dealing with Giroud was simply how he did all of the basics well and didn’t appear to get tied up in complicated tactical plans with how to keep him quiet.
When Giroud played on the shoulder of the defence, he ensured that the back four dropped a little bit deeper as a unit to compensate and he pressed when Giroud dropped off looking for the ball.
However, he wasn’t reckless and resisted the urge to try and intercept when Giroud went looking for possession if it meant there was a chance he’d leave a gaping great hole in the back four which one of France’s other attacking stars could have exploited.
It’s also significant that he didn’t try to get involved on a physical battle with Giroud, who had a three inch height advantage over the defender.
That would have been pointless because it would have been a losing cause trying to match up against him physically and again it would have damaged the overall shape of the back four.
Giroud’s willingness to switch onto one of the more erratic Georgia defenders such as Gia Grigalava who frequently couldn’t match Kashia’s ability to be in the right place at the right time, making the right decisions.
Any Premier League side coming up against an Arsenal side with Giroud at the top of the attack simply needs to try and put the pressure on to him, containing him with basic defensive skills.
The timing Kashia showed was also superb and that seemed to echo throughout all of the home side, as they only picked up two yellow cards during spells when they were pinned well inside their own half of the pitch.
Ultimately it was also a collective performance from Georgia which relied on a bit of luck because France had the majority of the game illustrated well by their 14 shots on goal compared to the home side’s five but the best way to contain Giroud seems to be the simplest way.
How do you think sides should contain Giroud?
image: © Ronnie Macdonald