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Do the stats back up Cazorla's Giroud claims?

The Spaniard believes Olivier Giroud is on a similar level to goalscoring sensations Luis Suarez and Sergio Agüero but do the stats back up his estimation?

Santi Cazorla believes his Arsenal team-mate Olivier Giroud is equally as effective as the likes of Luis Suarez and Sergio Agüero and has hailed his contribution towards the club's title charge.

Giroud has been forced to shoulder a heavy burden throughout the season as the Gunners' sole bona fide marksman, with Lukas Podolski failing on numerous auditions in the lone frontman role, Nicklas Bendtner equally inadequate deputy and Yaya Sanogo has been injured for the majority of the season.

Sanogo returns from various fitness setbacks for this evening's key clash with Manchester United but Giroud will once again lead the line as Arsene Wenger's side look to get back to winning ways after a 5-1 humbling at Anfield on Saturday.

There have been suggestions Giroud, amongst several others, may be suffering from burnout having played such a large role in his team's concerted title challenge but Cazorla's claims he is in the same league as the other Premier League big-hitters appears fanciful to say the least.

Giroud, who has struck 10 league goals this season, trails Suarez's phenomenal tally of 23, while Agüero, Daniel Sturridge, Eden Hazard, Yaya Toure and Loïc Remy have all netted more times than the Frenchman.

But it has not dissuaded Cazorla's belief that the former Montpellier striker belongs in such illustrious company, having managed a bigger load than his contemporaries so far this term.

"He's playing at a great level and improves year on year," Cazorla told French media outlet RMC. "He's at the same level as the other forwards in the league.

"He's strong and can keep the ball. In the penalty box, he's effective, whether that be with both feet or his head. He's a bit different to what you usually see in England, but he brings us a lot.

"He's a great striker, and we've seen that since the start of the season. He's also doing great things with the French national team."

But is Cazorla's estimation correct? Here are the statistics which truly distinguish who is the best out of the trio.

The mantle of being Arsenal's lone spearhead, at least the only efficient figure in that position, is reflected through the appearances and minutes Giroud has accumulated (23 and 1,974 respectively), contributing to a potential downfall in early-season performances.

Despite playing less, both of the South American duo have registered more than Giroud, with Suarez's 23 in 20 games coming in at a remarkable 1.15 goals per game, a truly astonishing figure, owing to general consistency but also some explosive form in front of goal which has yielded six braces, one hat-trick and even a four-goal haul against Norwich City already this season.

Agüero is slightly less predatory, having scored at a rate of 0.88 goals per game but it is still certainly a commendable total given his injury troubles, particularly given Giroud's total of 0.43 per game.

Likewise, the duo are also the most consistent with their shooting. It is an accusation regularly levelled at Giroud that his shooting leaves a lot to be desired despite the plethora of craftsmen engineering the chances for him on a regular basis.

He is far more than just a battering ram of a centre forward, but a shooting accuracy of 32% from his 73 shots is far from good enough for a side relying on the burly 27-year-old in the tightest of title races.

Agüero fares best in this category, having hit the target with exactly 50% of his efforts on goal while Suarez is hardly far behind having attempted considerably more than either of his fellow contemporaries, with a 49% success rate.

Similarly, the amount of contests Suarez takes on against his marker (149) far outweighs the respective tallies of Agüero (69) and Giroud (46). His 39% of contests won from that number seems low, but it marginally overshadows the Argentine (38%) and the Gunners hitman's (35%) efforts.

Where Giroud does come into his own, however, is his ability in the air, with 95 aerial duels won to his name. That Suarez and Agüero have come off best in just 24 between them points to the importance of the Arsenal man's role in providing a physical shield at the apex of Wenger's favoured XI, which allows Cazorla et al to thrive.

No wonder the Spaniard rates him so highly.

PlayerTeamPosGoalsGoal AssistTotal Scoring AttOntarget Scoring AttAerial WonTotal ContestWon ContestAppsMins
Luis Suarez Liverpool FW 23 8 108 53 15 149 58 20 1,794
Sergio Agüero Man City FW 15 5 70 35 9 69 26 17 1,199
Olivier Giroud Arsenal FW 10 6 73 23 95 46 16 23


image: © Ronnie Macdonald

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