Olivier Giroud is undoubtedly one of, if not the, most polarizing striker in the top five European leagues at the moment. Many fans and pundits alike believe the France international front man is subpar and wasteful, while others think he is a very capable player when deployed in the right situation.
Looking into the numbers, Giroud has certainly held his own during his time with the Gunners. In fact, the now 30-year-old center forward has scored more goals since Diego Costa arrived with Chelsea than the Spain international (per Transfermarkt.com). Yet somehow Costa is widely considered one of the top strikers plying their trade in the Premier League, but Giroud is looked at as a mid-tier striker at best.
Entering the 2016/17 campaign, Giroud was still seen as the club’s main man up front. After all, he was coming off a season in which he played a part in every single Premier League match. Nevertheless, manager Arsene Wenger gave the Frenchman just 11 total starts in league play this past season. While the playing time was surely disappointing for Giroud, he certainly made the most of his opportunities. In just 1,194 total minutes during the Premier League season, Giroud managed to rack up 12 goals and four assists. That’s an extremely impressive direct impact on goal every 75 minutes.
Following the frustrating season, Giroud has come out to say that he wasn’t happy with playing second fiddle. “It is true that I have had limited playing time but it was for a certain amount of time, it is true there were things against me. I will not settle for another year with such little playing time,” proclaimed the Arsenal striker.
“I will have to think carefully to consider it with my relatives and my advisers. It will be a decision that will be maturely thought about to have more playing time.”
Although the disappointed Giroud practically proclaimed his desire to depart north London should he not receive ample playing time, Wenger recently claimed the “need” to keep his striker at the Emirates. “It has been a frustrating season for [Giroud] because he has not played a lot,” said Wenger. “And when he has played well, he has not always played the next match. He has won us a lot of points when he has come on because he has scored lots of times. He has qualities that our team need.”
These qualities are something that fellow Arsenal strikers Theo Walcott and Danny Welbeck do not possess. Walcott is definitely more of a pacy winger than a main center forward, and Welbeck just isn’t a prolific goalscorer. In fact, the more respected Welbeck has scored a total of 10 Premier League goals in about 3,000 minutes during his three seasons with the Gunners. Compare this to Giroud’s 12 goals during his bit part 2016/17 season.
Regardless of how he might be perceived, Giroud certainly has the qualities make a serious impact on a big club; however, the question remains: should he be leading a big club up front? In the ideal situation for the Gunners, Wenger would sign a top striker and then rely on Giroud in certain situations or in an accent role. The Frenchman is a perfect ‘super sub’ and would benefit practically any team in Europe.
However, with Giroud proclaiming his want for a more starting role, it does not look like this scenario is possible. Arsenal now have to decide what is best for their club. Either go with Giroud in more prominent role, or part ways with their striker and lose an important piece of their attacking puzzle.
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