Olivier Giroud Will Come Back Stronger from His Difficult Arsenal Debut
The chance—created after yet another brilliant piece of skill from Santi Cazorla, who sent Giroud in on goal with a deft diagonal pass—was as good as any Arsenal had seen on a sweltering day where they had struggled to create anything of note in the penalty area.
Arsene Wenger would tell the club's official site afterward that he thought Giroud had more time to compose himself, and pegged his summer signing to do just as he'd done 25 times for Montpellier last season—find the back of the net.
But the chance looked rushed, and Giroud thwacked a right-footed drive well wide of Simon Mignolet's goal.
The look on the Frenchman's face mirrored that of his compatriot manager's—sheer desolation and disappointment.
The miss is what many will remember from the match, although Cazorla's breathtaking performance will also have staked a claim for memory cells.
Confidence is a tricky thing, and one might wonder whether Giroud's own reserves will be shorn after such a difficult display.
Were it another player, that might be the case. But not for Giroud.
Thick skin becomes a prerequisite when you're frequently told you're not good enough for top-flight football, which was the case for Giroud until the 2010-11 season, when he sealed a move to Ligue 1.
Once he'd cracked the French first division, Giroud did what he'd done at every level he'd played at through his burgeoning career. He scored goals with a flourish, and showed a terrific presence in front of goal—a byproduct of his 6'4" frame, a towering height in the world of football.
There's a reason former France national team coach Laurent Blanc was so keen to include him in the squad set up this past year.
When Giroud isn't scoring goals—which he succeeded in doing 33 times in league play over two seasons spent with Montpellier (although according to David Wall, of Opta fame, only five came on his right foot)—he displays a remarkable capacity to bring teammates into play.
Whether employing deft little lay-offs, or carefully nodded down headers, Giroud excels at linking up—something that became expected of Arsenal's central striker during the years Robin Van Persie occupied the position.
Giroud isn't the same player as the Dutchman, nor should anyone expected him to be. What he'll bring to Arsenal, once he's up to speed, is something along the lines of what Wenger noted on Saturday.
"You could see (Giroud) has a presence when he is on the pitch (at center forward)," Wenger told the official site.
Giroud played for a little more than a half hour after coming on for Lukas Podolski in the 63rd minute—there were four minutes of added time—during which he looked lively, getting into good spaces in the final third and giving Arsenal a good option up top.
Those worried that the Frenchman may fizzle like the last striker Wenger brought from Ligue 1 (Marouane Chamakh, who didn't even make the bench against the Black Cats), should quell their fears.
Giroud has shown at every level that he can have an impact. One miss shouldn't scupper years of precedent.
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