Each player had to fill the boots of a man who had become an iconic hero at their respective clubs. Giroud was ostensibly signed to replace Robin van Persie. Torres, meanwhile, was finally tasked with inheriting the central striking role previously occupied by Didier Drogba.
It’s fair to say both players have suffered by comparison and have even been criticised by their own supporters. However, who has had the better season?
In pure statistical terms, it’s fairly even. Both players currently sit on 17 goals in major competitions this season. Torres has a further two goals to his name in the Club World Cup and Community Shield, but Giroud was not afforded the opportunity to play in those competitions.
The first point to make is that Giroud is in his first season both with Arsenal and in English football.
Torres has played in England since he joined Liverpool in 2007. He’s also now played almost 80 games for Chelsea. The deficiencies in his game cannot be explained by a period of adaptation. The Spaniard is running out of excuses.
Giroud, however, has thrived despite being in an unfamiliar environment. The Premier League has a much quicker pace than Ligue 1, and yet he has adapted relatively swiftly, savouring the unique physical challenge English football offers.
Giroud has also been a more significant contributor in the major competitions. Six of Torres’ goals have come in the Capital One Cup and the Europa League—competitions that are not a priority for Chelsea’s owner, Roman Abramovich.
The Spaniard has mustered just seven Premier League goals. Giroud, by comparison, has 11, bringing him level with experienced Premier League strikers like Sergio Aguero and Jermain Defoe.
The Premier League is the yardstick by which a player’s performances are measured, and Giroud has made a much greater impact upon his team’s campaign than Torres.
In fact, in the second half of the season Torres has frequently found himself on the substitutes' bench. Chelsea’s January signing, Demba Ba, has generally been preferred in the league, with Torres restricted to appearances in the cups. The £50 million player has become a reserve.
Giroud has his flaws, but he has also become integral to the way Arsenal play. The recent game against Manchester United, for which Giroud was suspended, demonstrated just how vital a cog he is in the Arsenal machine. Without him, the Gunners were unable to convert their possession into a coherent threat.
Stats aside, that’s the crux of Giroud’s victory over Torres. The Spaniard’s stock has continued to fall, while the Frenchman’s reputation has bloomed. Not even Torres' plastic face-guard can mask his decline.
Arsene Wenger is predicting big things from Giroud in 2013-14. There are doubts over whether Torres will even be at Chelsea come next season.