Olivier Giroud: 5 Key Areas the Arsenal Striker Has Improved This Season
Few now believe replacing him should be anywhere near the top of Arsenal’s priority list.
Giroud had an above-average first season with Arsenal, but has metamorphosed into a force spearheading Arsenal’s attack.
Let’s look at five related ways he has improved from last year to this.
Strikers are often extolled for their ability to put the ball in the back of the net, but Giroud contributes so much more to the team.
He frequently drops off into midfield to keep alive attacks that often look moribund. Doing so requires superb technical skill, which Giroud showed flashes of last season but never displayed on a consistent basis.
Now, he flicks the ball back to midfielders or outside to wingers with remarkable precision, oiling the gears of Arsenal’s attack.
Aaron Ramsey would not have scored the winning goal against Borussia Dortmund if Giroud had not developed into a very physical striker.
Such a player is essential in England, and, though Giroud obviously had raw power last season, he only used it fleetingly.
Whereas last season excellent center-backs could be confident of bottling Giroud up, this season they quake in their cleats as he roars toward them.
His willingness to put himself in danger against Dortmund allowed him to force Mesut Ozil’s cross downward so the ball could meet Ramsey’s head.
Giroud has not simply lifted weights and made himself a more physically imposing player: He has developed the will to throw himself into the fracas and use his body to help the team win.
It’s hard not to think that Giroud’s fatigue, as described by Laurent Koscielny (via ESPN FC), has not partially been caused by his relentless commitment to winning aerial duels and chasing loose balls.
Still, he was much tamer last season, and Arsenal’s attack suffered from the absence of a big, pugnacious striker.
Now, the Gunners' attack congeals around him.
Giroud’s effectiveness in front of goal has waned recently as he has not been given a rest.
Yet when he was fresh and fully fit at the beginning of the season, he was clinical when presented with a goalscoring chance.
He had his moments of precision last season, too—he narrowly missed a hat-trick on multiple occasions. This time, though, he seems to find creative ways to put the ball in the back of the net when even the most fleeting opportunity presents itself.
See his winner against Tottenham, for example. Giroud married the technical nous he has always possessed with a new goal-poacher’s mentality.
Underlying all the aforementioned is Giroud’s confidence after a successful first season in English football.
When he traveled to East Asia during Arsenal’s preseason tour, he was obviously a different player. His new physical prowess and ruthlessness with the goal at his mercy were obvious, but, crucially, he had developed the swagger necessary to apply these new skills.
It was odd to see the physically imposing Giroud wither against elite opposition last season when it was obvious that he possessed a rare blend of size and technical nous. Now he has shed the fetters of his timidity, and has become a vital cog in Arsenal’s attack.
It is not a coincidence that there have been virtually no suggestions that Arsenal will purchase a world-class striker in January.