How Olivier Giroud Can Transform Arsenal from Nearly Men to EPL Champions
Robin van Persie's exit from The Gunners is all but a sure thing at this point, with manager Arsene Wegner ordering the striker to stay home (h/t the Daily Mirror) during the team's Asia tour—"Robin BAN Persie," indeed.
Some Arsenal supporters are fretting over his departure, owing mostly to his outstanding form in the most recent campaign. RVP led the Barclays Premier League in scoring, with 30 goals, three better than second-place Wayne Rooney (27) and seven better than third-place Sergio Aguero (23).
But while his absence is sure to be felt in the immediate future (i.e. the beginning of the 2012-13 campaign), his replacement, Olivier Giroud, has the long-term potential to make Arsenal fans forget who Van Persie even is.
Giroud comes to the Gunners after wildly successful two-year stints with Tours and Montpellier in his native country of France. He's three years younger than Van Persie, too––by the time he turns 26 this September, RVP will have already turned 29.
Check out Giroud's statistics from the past four seasons:
2008-09 was his first season at Tours; note the marked improvement by Giroud in his second year with each club. If history tells us anything, Giroud is unlikely to light the world on fire in 2012-13, but once he gets acclimated at Arsenal, his game will turn into a tour de force.
As impressively as those numbers hold up on their own merit, check out how they compare to Robin van Persie's stats from his 22-25 year-old seasons:
Van Persie apologists will rush to argue about the quality of the EPL when compared with that of Ligues 1 and 2, and that's a fair argument. But isn't that discrepancy (or as Giroud would call it, dis-CREPE-ancy) relatively proportional to the difference between RVP's Arsenal teammates and Giroud's teammates in France?
If you extrapolate Van Persie's numbers out to 155 appearances, it comes out to about 60 goals and 32 assists, so the "less games played" argument is flimsy, as well.
So yes, Rob van Persie evolved into one of the best all-around attackers in the world this season. And yes, Arsenal might feel the effects of his departure in the immediate future.
But if Olivier Giroud progresses at the same rate as Van Persie did between the ages of 25 and 28, his ceiling is even higher.
And that's a scary thought for the rest of England.
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