Olivier Giroud has been one of Arsene Wenger's modern success stories.
The physical forward, a 6ft 4in athlete, was brought in from Montpellier for a modest £9.6m last year. Perhaps due to his goal return of 33 in 73 Ligue 1 matches and perhaps due to the underwhelming signing of Marouane Chamakh that preceded him, supporters and media alike questioned whether the Giroud acquisition would prove money well spent or money wasted.
This season the 27-year-old is providing a strong presence in the box, a target for aerial balls due to his height and grass-level balls due to his ability with his feet, a player to hold the ball up and a chance creator. In essence, Giroud is providing an answer to those questions… the £9.6m is not only money well spent, but a bargain.
Few outside of Arsenal saw it working as well as it had. And they were not alone, as Mehmed Bazdarevic, one of Giroud's managers at previous club Grenoble, believed he did not possess the ability to hang with 'the elite'.
Over the coming years Giroud began proving Bazdarevic wrong, he is quoted by The Mirror to have said: 'It was a long time ago. I was young, just 19, and I was not mature enough, but I grew up step by step. First, in the French second division, I proved I could score a lot of goals and do well.
'And after I improved myself, I had a lot of thrust and confidence to continue and keep it up. I succeeded in doing it at that level and won the championship.'
Athletes are motivated by a variety of things but particularly in this era - money. However, Giroud is unlike his peers. It is not his earning power that drives him, but an internal desire to succeed when others thought he'd fail.
'Everything I did on the pitch is my answer for people who wanted to blame me. I tried to do my job on the pitch and score goals and never mind other people. But I believe in my qualities and my game, so I don’t care about it.
'There is no doubt that it was a good inspiration for me.'
Giroud has become so integral to Arsenal's attack that there are now fears that the side would be lost without him, as out-of-favour Nicklas Bendtner is his only real replacement. In ten Premier League appearances and 864 minutes of action, Giroud has returned a healthy five goals, created 17 chances (four of which became assists) and is never afraid to shoot - with 42% of his 29 shots (12) finding the target.
The stats alone won the Emirates crowd over. His consistency has kept them in his favour and, considering his sentiments today and providing he continues his form, Arsenal may have another striking hero on their hands.
Let's hope, for their sake, that there remain some who still doubt him so that he can thrive on the criticism.
image: © wonker