By Stefano on April 18th, 2013
Arsenal fan Julius @OneGunn3r on his frustration with The Gunners’ French striker.
I have found no player as difficult to write about as Olivier Giroud. Throughout the season I have tried and failed on many occasions to turn my thoughts on the big Frenchman into something digestible on a platform other than Twitter. For me, there are few players in the English game that are as capable of being a culmination of such decline and failure on a club’s behalf. I am hoping to get across not what Giroud is, but what Giroud represents, and how any failings are not his fault.
What can you say about Giroud? Obviously, Olly finds it hard to defend himself when his tongue always seems to hang out of his mouth in an impermeable sulk, but there is certainly much to groan and grin at when Olivier is around. His inability to turn and shoot is comparable to that of a turtle wielding an assault rifle, yet his first time lay-offs are generally important in linking up play. He brings a physical threat brought in by no-one bar Sagna and, at a push, Diaby, but the amount of important chances he fluffs before he actually finds the target are frustrating enough to cut short thought of the positive elements he brings to Arsenal’s table.
I like Giroud. I think he’s a good player. But that’s it. And that’s not the way it should be. Arsenal’s stingy transfer policy is always going to throw up weaknesses in the squad, defence for example. But never under Wenger have we had such a striking problem, in more ways than one. You could graffiti the list of all time great Arsenal forwards along the Great Wall of China and leave little room for an amalgamation of all of Tottenham’s silverware, yet now we are scrapping for fourth once again when the teams around us have improved.
Everton and possibly Spurs, have made themselves better. Manchester United are definitely improved, no thanks to us. We have stood still by selling Van Persie and replacing him with a variety of players. In real terms, that means regression. It is obvious that Giroud should not be the only real option. Podolski and Walcott are hardly viable long term alternatives, whilst the less said about Gervinho the better. The majority of fans seem to agree that they don’t mind having Giroud, but it is ludicrous to suggest he should be the starter when he is so profligate.
A brief Twitter conversation with @kinghenrythefif led to me believing that if we were to spend £30m on a single player, the priority should be to bring in a striker of genuine class instead of continuing with a completely unspectacular player up front. I’m hardly one to speculate with genuine knowledge, but someone like Jovetic or Lewandowski, players (apparently) with real star quality, would revitalise a yearningly complicated club that has creaked for at least three seasons.
There is perhaps not so much emotional baggage attached to the player himself as to what mighty shoes he has been forced to step into. I generally try to encourage players when at the ground, and Everton was no exception last night. Yet the angst all around was clear, and it was hard not to express anger and frustration at the plethora of chances our number 12 missed. Had he not sold Van Persie, or at least bought a replacement who was better than some vaguely talented French striker, we could be several points better off. And who knows? Maybe we could have beaten Bradford and Blackburn. And Millwall, Aston Villa, Wigan and Swansea, on the way to two Wembley finals and one cup. That’s what a great striker could have done.
Giroud is not disliked by many, but the name itself is a microcosm of Arsenal FC. We cannot fault Oliver Giroud for being Olivier Giroud, but we must not feel unable to criticise an average player that occupies a spot once taken by some the greatest strikers in Premier League history. He is at times an asset, but the lack of striking threat has been, for me, a far greater issue than any other fault. Thanks to our transfer policy, it has been another season of “what if”, regardless of qualifying for a competition we are never going to win at this rate.
I left last night feeling empty about our predicament. Until the void up front has been filled, I will remain so.