Does Giroud have a future at Arsenal beyond this season?

Giroud V Stoke

Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud has experienced something of a season of two halves this term…

The 27-year-old striker has managed a tally of 18 goals and 8 assists in all competitions so far this term and has already beaten his Premier League tally from last season but the Frenchman has been the subject of discussion and, in some cases, criticism of late.

I’m not going to discuss his personal life as it’s beside the point but his form and attitude are open to scrutiny, that goes with the territory of being a well-paid footballer of a top football club. Giroud is not the kind of striker Arsenal have used successfully under Arsene Wenger.

I think of the likes of Thierry Henry and Robin van Persie and it’s clear Giroud does not possess and likely won’t ever possess the kind of natural ability or even acquired finishing technique to be compared alongside them – that is no bad thing, necessarily.

Arsenal’s set up is different with Giroud in the team, they can go more direct and rely on his physical presence and hold-up play in a way we can see Van Persie is currently not able to do under David Moyes at Manchester United.

Giroud is a different player with a different skill set and Arsenal are a changed team and that’s just fine but my reservations are whether he scores enough goals to make win the Gunners a title and whether he has the attitude and application of a top-level striker – personally, I don’t see that in his game.

Recently, I’ve noticed he spends a lot of time complaining to the referee – if the defender is getting the better of him (legally or otherwise) he whines. Van Persie may not be the ideal comparison but the Dutchman could give as good as he got mostly and wouldn’t hold back and he rarely wasted an opportunity – you could trust him to take a chance.

I don’t feel that about Giroud – it’s literally hit and miss – he might turn and flick an assist like his touch for Jack Wilshere’s sublime goal earlier this season or the ball might rebound off him and he’ll sit sheepishly on the ground complaining while the opposition launch their counter attack the other end.

He doesn’t chase and press as much as I’d like to see either, nor does he take up the right positions on a regular enough basis and he’s certainly no Speedy Gonzales so there’s no hope of a ball over the top catching the opposition playing a high line anymore, especially with Theo Walcott out.

To me, in essence, he is not an ‘Arsenal’ striker. He doesn’t have that magic, that wow factor, that va-va-voom. Consider the fact that Wenger bid £40,000,001 for Luis Suarez in the summer and then consider whether he thinks Giroud is a top-level world-class first-choice centre-forward.

Furthermore, I think Arsene Wenger will buy another striker this summer – I don’t think he’ll break the transfer record again in a hurry but I think he will bring someone in. I also think how Giroud responds to that will be key – if he works hard to compete for his place, then great, everyone wins but if he starts losing confidence and, perhaps, complaining or feeling sorry for himself like he does in games when he’s having a tough time, I don’t think he will have a future at the Emirates.

After all, he has already been punished for his behaviour off the pitch in recent weeks by the boss who, for all his Grandpa-esc demeanour in general, is still a real stickler for discipline.

Giroud scored two goals against Sunderland and got an assist too but he was anonymous against Manchester United, Stoke, and Tottenham. Flashback to the beginning of the season and he scored a goal in every game for four games on the trot – but he hasn’t done anything close to that since.

In fact, in the Premier League he hasn’t scored a goal in back to back games since September last year and for a team challenging for the title, a team that creates the kind of golden opportunities the Gunners do, that isn’t really good enough.

His contract, incidentally, runs until 2017 which means it enters its final 18 months next season – consider the possibility that if a new star striker comes in and Giroud gets fewer games, he might not be so eager to sign a new deal come next summer when he’ll likely be offered one.

I hope he improves on his form – he has been handed an enormous amount of responsibility and played an awful lot of games this season but I wonder whether we have seen the best there is of Olivier Giroud at Arsenal.

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