Here are a few reasons why…
Giroud got a good pre-season under his belt, which was a clear sign of things to come for the French striker and an indication of his improvement over the course of last season as well as his near-complete integration into Arsene Wenger’s team.
The 27-year-old Frenchman scored eight goals in seven matches in Arsenal’s pre-season tour, the Emirates Cup and their friendly against Manchester City.
In direct contrast, compared to his slow start last term, Giroud arrived on 26th June 2012, barely had any time to settle in to Wenger’s system which was very different from his previous club Montpellier’s setup, form relationships both on and of the field with his new teammates, adapt to the intensity and physical demands of the English game and, furthermore, his new life in London.
It’s almost no wonder he didn’t score his first league goal until October 6th 2012 last term after 6 league appearances without finding the back of the net. These things take time and confidence, which is so fundamental to a striker’s form, is one of those things that takes time to grow in the player’s mind.
He always knew he had the ability; he just needed that time to adjust and then progress. Last season’s end tally of 17 goals in all competitions effectively acts like a base coat of paint for him impose his masterpiece onto this season.
Synonymously, I mentioned his ability but the necessary adaptation period may have blunted his threat a little whilst he transitioned from top goalscorer in Ligue 1 to a lone striker in the Premier League.
His ability, however, should never have been in question – his intelligence and craftiness to get between centre-backs and fire near-post to catch defenders and keepers by surprise on such a regular basis as he has done so far this term is not an accident. He’s scoring goals, and he’s scoring them on purpose.
It’s not a fluke if he’s doing it time and time again. I’m not sure whether that will have been something Arsene Wenger will have advised him to do and worked on with him in training or whether it’s something he has decided of his own accord but one thing’s for sure – it’s working.
It’s not something you see a lot of strikers do, especially in the modern game in England and it’s not something we’ve seen anyone do better at this term than Giroud.
Meanwhile, look at the positions he takes up when Arsenal have the ball, how well he holds the ball up in the channels and brings his teammates in and then look where he runs once he’s laid it off to his mate – he makes a b-line for the six-yard box which is where he scores the majority of his goals.
He starts initially with his back to goal and often with a defender giving him a cuddle outside the penalty area and as his teammates come to his aid, he controls the ball, lays it off to his mate, turns and runs at the goal.
Sometimes he holds his run or slows his pace to await a cut back pass from the flank but is always in the right position this season – even if the finish doesn’t come off, he’s in the right place at the right time which is the most important thing for a striker to be.
Last season, before he settled in, he’d be flailing somewhere in the area in a fairly benign and unthreatening way, unsure of where the ball was going to be placed. Now, however, he’s realized the ball will be placed wherever he runs to – his teammates will find him – but it’s more important that he takes up a position where he knows he can have a clear shot a goal.
Finally, perhaps the reason he’s been on fire is he’s the only fully fit centre-forward in the squad but, in the same breath, credit must go to the man himself for keeping his focus and commitment and maintaining his high level of performance despite genuine competition for his place.
There are strikers at other clubs at present – I could probably name a dozen – who do have competition for their place and aren’t keeping their focus where it should be: on scoring goals however and whenever they possibly can.
image: © wonker