Here’s a feature on Olivier Giroud from The Times last Friday. Last Friday, of course, things looked a bit rosier for Gooners than they do now. Since then we have had two defeats where we managed one shot on target, a speculative effort from a 17-year old sub in injury time of the second game.
This is not really Giroud’s fault of course. For the Schalke game he came on as a late sub and was provided with little or no service. He’s not a Walcott, who comes on to best effect against tired legs – the only tired legs last night seemed to be in the Arsenal team. Giroud needs time to get into a game and make his presence felt against the defence, preferably with the help of a few well-aimed crosses.
But enough of the depression of recent matches, what does M Giroud have to say for himself in The Times, and what do they conclude about him?
We learn that he was impressed by the magnificent facilities of London Colney, with its dozens of ‘gardeners’ tending the immaculate pitches. In France his face is all over billboards for Puma; in London he has moved to Hampstead to be neighbours with some of the Saudi Royal family and, apparently, the President of Kazakhstan (who you would think faces quite a long commute to the office from there).
The Times recognises the rather steep recent rise of Giroud’s career, which is probably the thing that worries most Arsenal fans – will his lack of experience at even top level in France mean that he proves not good enough for the Premier League in the long run? Giroud explains that he was not fully concentrating on football until recent years while he completed his studies. His desire for a fall-back career is understandable when his older brother played 40 times for France at youth levels but never made it as a pro, and is now out of the game.
We learn little else from the main feature, other than the usual statements from new Arsenal players arrived from abroad: they’re happy some of their compatriots are here already, they like the anonymity of London and they love Arsenal.
Below the main feature is a smaller piece headed “Frenchman eager to match Bergkamp’s career at Arsenal”. Naturally the comparison only comes about because of the similar length of time it took the two of them to score a league goal; Giroud is not so daft as to believe he is as good as Bergkamp. Clearly he isn’t. The question remains, though, whether he is good enough for Arsenal. The Times come to no critical conclusion, but I’m still in the camp that believes he can be a useful and effective Arsenal player, but only if we play to his strengths. At the moment our forward play lacks any focus. The defence has improved this season, horrendous individual errors aside, and attack is where the manager needs some fresh ideas. Giroud could be a star or a £12m write-off by the end of the season. I think the conclusion depends a lot more on what Arsène Wenger chooses to do with him and those around him than what he can control himself.