One Arsenal player who is key to their success this season - not Ozil

Olivier Giroud 3

Olivier Giroud has had a great start to the season and his performances up front for the Gunners has helped compliment the midfield talent.

Aged-27, it is fair to say that Olivier Giroud is coming towards the peak of his career now. His next three or four years are likely to be his best as a striker and he couldn’t be in a better team for them.

He has started this season well, being one of the first names on the team sheet during Arsenal’s impressive start to the current Premier League campaign.

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Surrounded by attacking midfielders such as Mesut Özil, Santi Cazorla, Theo Walcott and Aaron Ramsey, Giroud finds himself at the front of an incredibly-talented Arsenal attack. These players are able to create a number of chances in a game (a combined 43 chances in Premier League games to date, although not all directed toward a striker) and Giroud has shown he is more than capable of finishing them off (a shooting accuracy of 42% on target, with 4 goals, 8 shots on target, 11 off target in league competition).

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When Arsene Wenger signed Olivier Giroud last year for a £9.6m fee, it was hoped he could continue his form that helped Montpellier to the Ligue 1 title. After only two years playing in the top flight in France, it was a considerable step up for Giroud, and the last striker to move from France to Arsenal, Marouane Chamakh had not experienced a smooth transition.

Giroud scored 11 league goals in his first year (all of them struck in London incidentally), four more than Chamakh had managed in his first season. It was a steady start for Giroud, and luckily Arsenal could rely on goals coming from all over the team.

This year, however, he seems to have stepped up a gear, already notching six goals in the first ten games in all competitions (including his first league goals outside of London). The 27-year-old seems a more confident man, and Wenger has shown faith in keeping Giroud as the team’s main striker.

Things could have been a lot different this season for the striker from Chambery.

This summer, Wenger was expected to make a move for a striker. Suarez and Higuain were linked but neither ever came to fruition. If one of them had come in then it is unlikely Olivier Giroud would be starting as many games as he has.

He has grabbed his chance though and now it seems that Arsenal are more than coping without the major signing of a striker. Özil has come in instead and has been able to almost turn Giroud into that world class option.

With only Lukas Podolski and Nicklas Bendtner as realistic replacements for Giroud, if he were to get injured then it could be detrimental to Arsenal's season. His chance conversion rate this season is strong at 21% in the Premier League, helped by the fact Özil and others are creating better opportunities for the Frenchman.

Compare this to last season’s conversion rate of 10.1% and it shows that Giroud and Arsenal are making major strides forward, and who is going to stop them?

image: © wonker

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