Heading into a new Premier League season should be a time of optimism, excitement and discussion, setting new objectives to better the previous campaign and predicting which players will make the difference when it matters most.
For some fans, though, the summer is a frustrating time of half-truths, unmet expectations and outright disappointment, and that has so far been something like the case for Arsenal.
Giroud at Arsenal
While there was no disguising the disappointment, and even disgust, that some Gunners fans felt when Robin van Persie departed for pastures new a year ago, fans of the club at least had reason for hope and renewal as Santi Cazorla and Lukas Podolski joined the club.
While this duo went some way toward improving the attacking midfield options in the team, van Persie still needed to be replaced in the striker's role, and Olivier Giroud was the man Arsene Wenger deemed good enough to spend more than £10 million on.
Giroud had scored 21 goals the previous year with Montpellier, winning Ligue 1 in the process, but managed just 11 strikes from 34 games in his debut campaign in the Premier League.
It wasn't just a matter of putting the ball in the back of the net, though, which marked Giroud out as being at least a level or two below van Persie.
His shot conversion rate was a disappointing 12 percent; despite hitting the fifth-most shots in the entire league last season, Giroud hit the target with less than half of them. His lowly 49 percent on-target rate was way below top scorers Luis Suarez and—of course—van Persie, and also significantly lower than the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Rickie Lambert or Christian Benteke.
Workman-like at times and with good movement, Giroud's lack of acceleration and ability to sidestep a man nonetheless shows his limitations to be painfully evident compared with Arsenal's quick linkup play, pace down the channels and inventive midfield approach.
Wenger's Obvious and Apparent Lack of Faith
Eleven goals clearly isn't enough for a first-choice centre-forward to contribute to a side chasing Champions League football year on year, and manager Wenger had clearly set his sights on a new No. 9 man for the coming season.
Giroud might well improve his goal tally if he remained in the side, but he would still prohibit Arsenal from playing their full spectrum of attack-minded, fast-action football in the final third.
A more mobile, savvy and technical forward was required, identified, sought out and seemingly lost.
Arsenal faced up to former transfer target Gonzalo Higuain at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday, and while his performance was that of a man barely into his preseason training, Gunners fans should make no mistake that he possesses the quality and the pedigree to have been a massive upgrade on Giroud.
The same goes for Luis Suarez, an altogether different forward, yet another target of Wenger's and more evidence that a top centre-forward is a requirement, with the boss realising he certainly doesn't possess one at present.
They've also been linked, tenuously or not, with Roma's Pablo Osvaldo, via Metro; Swansea's Michu, as per The Independent; now-Atletico forward David Villa, as per The Telegraph; and also former Gunner Carlos Vela, Manchester United's Wayne Rooney and now-Manchester City forward Stevan Jovetic, all via talkSPORT.
Whichever rumours are true, the meaning is clear: Wenger knows Giroud isn't up to the task and requires a striker who can provide better all-round performances, especially a better goal return, if Arsenal are to challenge anywhere near the title once more.
Replacing Him No Easy Task...if Gunners Won't Spend
And so to the real task at hand: spending money.
By all accounts, Arsenal have plenty to spend this summer...if they want to. Nobody wants to pay £10 million for a £4 million-rated player, and likewise it's illogical to pay £80 million for somebody who would more realistically be valued at £25 million.
Unfortunately, though, transfer market values in football are no longer reflected by anything so simple as a player's worth, and the massive expenditures on forwards this summer only serve to underline the fact that Arsenal must overpay to get quality through the door.
Just like every other team has.
Was Alvaro Negredo worth £20 million-plus? Certainly not. Is Edinson Cavani a £55 million striker? Debatable. Roberto Soldado, overpriced. Higuain, overpriced. But that's the pattern.
Arsenal didn't want to to pay for the latter, and they missed out. And those other three forwards, very good quality and reliable in front of goal for the most part, also all moved on. So have other forwards around Europe this summer, leaving Arsenal with rather less options to move for than they had a month ago.
Not being forced into paying massive amounts by an inflated market is to be admired, to a point, but it's not going to bring the Premier League trophy—or even a challenge for it—to the Emirates Stadium this season.
And neither is Olivier Giroud.
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