Injured Arsenal forward Olivier Giroud will soon be rewarded with a two-year contract extension with the Gunners. Manager Arsene Wenger announced during his Tuesday press conference that the deal will be ironed out and completed shortly. The new contract will keep the France international at The Emirates until 2018.
Giroud, who just turned 28 on Tuesday, is surely the most polarizing player in the Arsenal squad. While the lanky center-forward scores goals and has a solid work rate, some fans get frustrated with the Frenchman’s play at times. Nevertheless, there is no denying the fact that Giroud scored 22 total goals for the Gunners last season (the highest tally of any player in the squad) and 41 total combined goals in just over two full seasons since his arrival to the north London from French club Montpellier.
The France international is currently suffering from a foot injury and will likely be out until around Christmas. Giroud last featured for the Gunners in a 2-2 draw with Everton on August 23rd, a game in which he scored in the final minutes of the game to secure a share of the points at Goodison Park.
Arsenal has not exactly coped well since the injury to Giroud in August. In the seven matches since the injury to the center-forward, Arsenal has only managed to win two games, while only scoring nine goals in the process. Prior to his injury, Giroud scored five goals in his last 10 Arsenal matches, and the Gunners were undefeated during the 10 game stretch (eight victories and two draws).
Despite his scoring record, Giroud has turned into somewhat of a scapegoat since his arrival a little over two years ago. Although fans are usually the hardest on strikers, Giroud’s criticism is undoubtedly too harsh. The Frenchman was brought into north London (along with Lukas Podolski) to help ease the pain associated with Robin van Persie’s switch to Manchester United. While Giroud may not be as talented as van Persie, he has done an adequate job in helping to replace the Dutchman at The Emirates.
Arsenal’s recent dip in form could very well have a direct correlation with Giroud’s injury. The Arsenal brass have done their part in trying to fill the Giroud void, as they paid around $25 million to bring in former United striker Danny Welbeck on the final day of the summer transfer market.
While Welbeck is a solid addition to the team (and offers pace into the squad, something in which Giroud lacks), the 23-year-old England international has yet to help the Gunners fire on all cylinders. Although Welbeck will certainly start to score goals eventually, Giroud’s integration back into the squad in December should benefit both the team and Welbeck. Healthy competition at the center-forward position will help push both of the players.
Some Gunner fans may not be happy with Wenger for giving Giroud the contract extension, however, there is no denying the Frenchman’s importance to this Arsenal team. Along with his goals, Giroud’s link up play, passing, vision, and work rate are all very sufficient.
The Gunners have also been poor at converting from set pieces this season and a healthy Giroud would certainly help the team in that area due to his 6’4” frame. If Arsenal can cope with his absence over the next few months, a lineup that includes Giroud, Alexis Sanchez, and Theo Walcott for the second half of the season seems extremely promising.
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