Olivier Giroud may have scored Arsenal’s equaliser in the 2-2 draw at home to Swansea last night, but some home fans are less than happy with the Frenchman’s performances this season.
It is harsh to criticise the striker that has 13 league goals this season, and has pretty much been playing up-top on his own for the whole season. No matter who is in charge of Arsenal next season, one of their priorities should be to bring in a new striker this season. Not someone to replace Giroud, but someone to support him.
Giroud has the penetration skills of a neutered Coton de Tulear. #AFCvSCFC— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) March 25, 2014
During his two years in Montpellier, more often than not, Giroud played the role as lone striker, and for the majority of his time in Ligue 1 he was very successful in the position. He was so successful in-fact that Montpellier, during their title winning season, sent their only other striker out on loan for the last four months of the campaign.
It could have backfired, but they had 100% confidence in Giroud, confidence that inspired the striker to score 21 goals that season, goals that prompted Wenger to spend €12 million on the 25-year-old.
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Initially he was being brought in to play alongside, or provide support to Robin van Persie. The Dutchman then moved to Manchester United, leaving Giroud all alone to play the number 9 role at the Emirates. Now it is time for Wenger to bring in support for Giroud, and use a newly formed partner-ship to get the best out of the French international.
At Montpellier, Giroud had the support of creative midfielder Younes Belhanda, and although he now has Mesut Ozil in a similar role, there are enough differences that see Giroud still stranded up-top on his own. Belhanda was physically stronger and more attack-minded. Giroud needs someone to play off him, someone he can find with his excellent knockdowns, someone to feed off.
There has been talk of Arsenal making a bid for French teammate, Karim Benzema, in the summer window, this is an interesting choice, but one that is untested internationally. So far both Didier Deschamps and Laurent Blanc before him have resisted the temptation to play with both Benzema and Giroud upfront for a considerable amount of time, nothing more than fleeting substitute performances have failed to convince or reject any notion that they can play together.
Stylistically it all makes sense. Benzema is not a penalty box predator, he likes to drift wide, patrol outside the box and make well timed runs in behind the defence. Benzema needs someone to hold the ball up, someone to play-off, and someone to use as a decoy. In theory it should work, but without seeing it for France, it is unlikely that Wenger would make that move himself. Even as a lone-striker, Benzema is less than convincing.
Benzema may not be the best option for Arsenal and Giroud, but the current number 12 needs someone to help him. It would be great to see Giroud given a partner, or at least someone that Arsenal can use to provide competition and help shoulder the goal scoring burden with Giroud.
When you watch Giroud closely, you can see that his off-the-ball movement and his intelligence around the pitch is superb. Sometimes he misses some chances that he really should put away, but what striker doesn’t.
He has proven himself as a Premier League goal-scorer; he has scored more goals at this stage of his Arsenal career than van Persie had. The Dutchman had Thierry Henry to take the attention away from him. If Wenger is smart he will bring someone in to deflect away from the Frenchman, then we might get to see the true ability of the former Montpellier hero.