Who Needs A Frightening Striker?

Olivier Giroud may be no Robin van Persie but the difference between RVP's Arsenal and this one is that they really don't need a 30-goal striker. It's a collective effort...

Last Updated: 26/11/13 at 21:53 Post Comment

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"Does he frighten opposition defenders?" was the question in the ITV studios and everbody agreed that no, Olivier Giroud really didn't frighten defenders like Luis Suarez or Robin van Persie. Because of course having a striker like Van Persie who frightened defenders brought Arsenal no end of silverware, right?

Two seasons ago the Dutchman scored 37 goals in all competitions for Arsenal; only one other player - Theo Walcott - reached double figures. This season the terribly unfrightening Giroud and Aaron Ramsey have already passed that benchmark and there are four or five others likely to follow. We suspect that Arsene Wenger prefers the current situation.

This summer I argued that Arsenal's pursuit of Suarez was akin to spending all your money on a massive TV when you need a fridge (and by 'fridge' I meant defensive midfielder, to needlessly explain the metaphor). Goals were clearly not their biggest problem and Giroud had shown enough promise in his first season not to shatter his confidence by buying a replacement for a 17-goal striker (he was one of four Arsenal players in double figures last season, in case you were wondering).

When Jack Wilshere said this week that Giroud was Arsenal's player of the season so far there was a collective titter and a 'surely you mean Ramsey?'. But Wilshere had his convincing reasons, saying: "Olivier has been really impressive, especially at the beginning of the season when everyone was saying that Suarez was coming in to take his place. For someone playing in that position it would have been tough for him to lose his place, but he has shown great character and for me he's been our best player this season."

Wilshere went on to detail Giroud's strengths, namely his ability to hold up the ball and win physical battles with defenders while artfully bringing his teammates into play. He did not praise the Frenchman's finishing with the same enthusiasm but this Arsenal side - with Wilshere, Ramsey, Ozil, Santi Cazorla, Theo Walcott and Lukas Podolski to return - does not need a phenomenal finisher at its apex.

So when Giroud does not have a good game, and he absolutely did not have a good game against Marseille, there is little fear that Arsenal will draw a blank. Only Manchester United have stopped a curiously fearful Arsenal scoring this season, precisely because they have so many players who can cause damage. Against a pretty woeful Marseille it was the turn of the apparently out-of-form Wilshere, who has already doubled his best-ever goal haul this season.

Giroud might not be frightening, he may never adorn the cover of a video game and he is unlikely to be voted PFA Player of the Year any time soon, but with Arsenal top of both Premier and Champions League, we should all agree that they are doing just fine with the man most would have replaced.

Sarah Winterburn

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