Mails: In which Giroud gets a roasting…

Date published: Wednesday 11th November 2015 4:01

We asked you to move on from Arsenal; you didn’t. If you have any opinions then send them to


Remember when Rooney was better than Ronaldo…?
Last night I sat down and watched the new Cristiano Ronaldo documentary. I don’t highly recommend watching it seems to be more of a vanity project rather than anything substantial. A lot of the material and content is aimed to make you feel sympathetic towards Ronaldo and his poor mother who had to let her baby leave home at 11 (she’s done well out of it though hasn’t she?). When the film ended I immediately went on to YouTube to watch his old Man Utd highlights and what struck me straight away is that during their early years together, Wayne Rooney was the better of the two in my opinion.

The two of them complemented each other perfectly and formed a unique partnership which can be best summed up by that goal against Arsenal in the champions league. So how can two players with such ability go in such drastically different directions? Ronaldo has become a goal-machine, the complete player who has cemented his position as arguably one of the greatest players to have ever played the game and has won the ballon d’or three times. He’s worked incredible hard to perfect his game and his physique to become a great of the modern game.

This isn’t to say Rooney has had a bad career, he’s England’s all time leasing goalscorer, won several PL titles, a CL title etc, but on an individual level he’s nowhere near Ronaldo.

It just makes me think ‘What if?’.
Leon, Basel


Latest Winners and Losers table
1) Manchester City (1)
2) West Ham United (6)
3) Arsenal (2)
4) Manchester United (4)
5) Newcastle United (17)
6) Leicester City (3)
7) Crystal Palace (8)
8) Liverpool (10)
9) Southampton (7)
10) Tottenham Hotspur (5)
11) West Bromwich Albion (13)
12) Swansea City (14)
13) Aston Villa (20)
14) Watford (11)
15) Stoke City (12)
16) Norwich City (15)
17) Bournemouth (18)
18) Everton (9)
19) Chelsea (16)
20) Sunderland (19)

It seems to have taken somewhat of a shape but with several very clear anomalies (mainly Newcastle, Villa, Everton)
Louie, East London


Premier League football please…
Can anyone out there speed up time? Please?

I can’t think of anything more pointless than an England friendly against Spain, and France isn’t going to be much better from our point of view. The fact is that Spain, if they bother to turn up, will annihilate us. They have better players, better squad unity, and experience winning. If we win, even if we look excellent, it’ll be because they didn’t turn up, most likely because they couldn’t be bothered and fielded the next generation instead of the chaps who will actually play in the tournament. If we do have to play them in the actual tournament, they will hammer us without trying, however well we play – and thus this friendly is fundamentally uninteresting, or at least fundamentally useless in terms of telling us anything about England. Spain have a point to prove after the World Cup, and will take the Euros very seriously. The friendlies, probably not so much.

Realistically, we won’t turn up either anyway – it’s a meaningless friendly played right before the busiest football period in England. Apart from Jamie Vardy, who has a point to prove, no-one is going to try too hard and risk injury for their club game for a friendly – and Woy isn’t going to inspire them with a passionate speech, is he? Man couldn’t inspire the Pope to get excited about meeting Jesus, even if Jesus was stood right there.

The France game is a little more interesting, because they are going through some changes in attacking personnel, and there’s currently a small chance (due to off-pitch stuff) that Benzema will not be selected for the tournament as well as being unavailable for the friendly, so how France line up in attack now might be an early glimpse at how they will do so in the tournament. It will be interesting to see how Martial fits in, for example. Also, the French will be up for a competitive match, having not had a qualifying campaign as hosts. Unfortunately, we won’t be, so it’ll be more about watching France than England I think. I’m also gutted Sakho won’t be playing, but that’s personal not general I suppose.

So, yeah, roll on November 21st. I’m not one of the ‘Scouse nicht Englische’ brigade usually, I like England and want us to do well. I just don’t care about these games, really. Although if Woy manages to injure Clyne, I can’t be held responsible for my actions.

Lallana, he can ruin.
Matt, (Hendo’s coming back soon! It’s the Kloppmas in November) LFC


Rabble-rousers write…
I’d suggest that Daniel AFC re-watches the Monaco games from last season to find out why Giroud’s finishing is holding Arsenal back. Discussing his chance conversion rate is, as with most statistics, flawed.

It’s the types of chances, and in-game frequency that Giroud misses compared to the Agueros, Sanchezs, Bentekes. Everyone misses chances, but Giroud’s ability to miss basic chances, throughout one whole game is what separates him from the best forwards in the league.

He’s incredibly frustrating, because there will be games where he scores two out of two chances, but there will be games where he has 20 chances and misses all of them, usually badly. Aguero will miss four and score on the fifth with regularity, you never know which Giroud will turn up.

The game where he got booed off by his own national fans. God knows what happened there. Maybe they actually watched the game rather than read a spreadsheet of statistics, those crazy French fools!

I must be one of those rabble-rousers who is bad at analysis and predictions, but, I have a prediction for you. Arsenal will not win the league with Olivier Giroud as their frontline striker.
Martyn, Corby


…Syfq Amr, the reason why it’s easy to hate Arsenal is simple. I refer you to Daniel, AFC.

Daniel, AFC. Giroud is crap mate. Same as Lord Bendtner, Almunia, Adebarndoor, Senderos etc. He’s just the next in line that you Goons are willing to be better than he is.

Stats cant tell you this, but I bet in that % of chances Giroud has missed compared to Aguero, there’s a 100% chance Aguero hasn’t missed as often from less than eight yards.
Steve (West Ham are injured for 3 months L) Coatsworth


…So *anyone* who suggests Giroud’s finishing is not holding Arsenal back is ‘really bad at prediction and analysis’? Did you actually listen to how unbelievably pretentious that sounds? Not to mention factually incorrect, as prediction has nothing whatsoever to do with analysis of things that have already happened. Admittedly not everyone has Daniel, AFC’s heightened level of appreciation, understanding and translation of stats that contain no context whatsoever to level of opponent/amount of pressure on Giroud/the types of games in which his finishing consistently lets him down, some of us watched Giroud miss three very clear-cut chances that would almost certainly have won Arsenal points and saw a perfect example of when Giroud’s finishing holds Arsenal back.

Alex G, THFC


…As is always the case, a lot of people are trying to draw a lot of conclusions from Sundays north london derby. Some right, some a little kneejerk and up for debate and some just plain wrong. One debate that has gained quite a bit of attention is the ‘Giroud is not world class and never will be’ debate.

Thanks to Daniel, AFC we got a detailed breakdown of how his chance conversion rate (CCR) clearly cements his place as en elite striker. Wow, that was a waste of time.

In much the same way that teams are judged on points rather than possession stats, so strikers are ultimately judged on goals (and a little something extra – see below). I dont care if Giroud has a 20% conversion rate compared to 17% or 14% for others, because that stat on its own has way to many variables. For example, and I dont know the stats on this, but does Giroud ever shoot/score from outside the box?! Shooting outside the box is arguably ‘harder’ than from inside the box, so conversion rate for a striker that does shoot a lot is likely to drop. Where Giroud might choose a fancy flick or a lay off to a teammate, Harry Kane might choose a shot from outside the box and he misses a fair few. But do I want Harry to stop shooting from there? No, absolutely not, because otherwise he wouldn’t have opened the scoring in our best win of the season at home to Chelsea.

You might think I’ve shot myself in the foot slightly, as looking at Giroud’s goal record it holds up against (without surpassing) many of the other top strikers. But the beauty of football is that there is something intangible, something that we cant break down with stats, that makes some players better than others. Giroud is by no means a bad player, far from it, but there is a collective agreement among pundits, journalists, fans and a large amount of Arsenal supporters that he isnt world class and you have to ask yourself why? Are these people all biased? Are the same people that have huge admiration for other Arsenal players all suffering from jealousy over Giroud’s undeniable good looks? The answer is, of course, no – the reason the vast majority of these people say he isn’t world class is because he isn’t. He doesn’t dominate, or influence, or single-handedly win games in the manner that the real top strikers do.

The real argument is why should a striker who was signed for £12m at the age of 25/26 be expected to be world class? As a Spurs fan, I’m well placed to know that spending a lot of money on a striker is no guarantee of success. He’s proved to be a good buy for Arsenal, but a top striker he is not and never will be. IF Arsenal win the league (and I pray to every God out there that they dont) it will be because they have two top-class attacking players, rather than a world-class striker.
Josh, THFC (obviously) London
PS. A striker that doesn’t taken penalties…enough said


…If you think Giroud isn’t that good then you must be mental. You must have imagined him missing a series of sitters against Monaco in the CL, missing four clear chances in a Derby, never scoring a single goal in three years of playing Chelski, and being so average that he’s only second-choice striker despite Walcott being anything but a number 9. Forget that Bayern, Real, Citeh, PSG, Spurs, Liverpool and even Leicester wouldn’t start him in matches today. Forget that abysmal CL scoring record that sees him yet to hit double figures despite three years of being the sole number 9. Forget his total inability to break into an average France team, and being regularly booed by his own supporters for being so mediocre!

WhoScored tells me Giroud is amazing. Arsene said so too. It must be true.
Stewie Griffin (Santa is real)


…In this morning’s mailbox, Daniel, AFC wrote in to defend Giroud’s conversion rate. As part of his defence, he criticises Winty for using ‘nominal chance-wasting stats instead of rate-based ones’ but then doesn’t do much better with the type of stat he decides to use in his defence. Perhaps someone should explain to Daniel that a player’s conversion rate is simply the percentage of his shots with which he scores. The criticism over Giroud is about how many ‘clear-cut’ chances he misses.

I can’t be bothered to check the actual stats because that’s really rather tedious, but it seems pretty self-evident that comparing Giroud to someone like Alexis Sanchez, as Daniel does, doesn’t make any sense because Sanchez is naturally going to take a much higher percentage of his shots from outside the box.

Instead of arguing over statistics, sometimes it really is best just to use your eyes. Giroud misses more chances that would seem easier to score – which make you ask, “How did he miss that?” – than any other striker in the top six or seven teams. Kane, Lukaku, Pelle, Benteke, probably even Remy and Bony are all more reliable in those situations.
Jimbles, WFC


…Touching on the statistical analysis made by Daniel, AFC concerning Olivier Giroud, I think the obvious frustration is that when he isn’t scoring, he isn’t doing much else to contribute.

Comparing the passing statistics for Giroud against others mentioned by Daniel, you can start to see a pattern. Aguero (87.45%), Kane (74.65%), Bony (77.5%) and Sanchez (79.1%) have all averaged considerably higher pass completion than Giroud (66.7%) over the last one and half Premier League seasons. Only Benteke (67.65%) is close.

Although you can expect him to have less of the ball then many of the aforementioned strikers (players in a similar target man role tend to have matching pass stats), it does explain why he comes in for increased criticism when he misses a handful of chances in a London Derby that frankly a blind turkey could score.
Harry, Man-crush on Pelle, Saints


…Daniel, AFC provides us readers with quite a lot of information in the whole ‘Is Giroud any good’ debate. I appreciate people taking the time to put together a well-reasoned argument either for, or against players for any club or nationality. It shows that they are thinking further than their noses instead of just participating in the usual ‘my player is better than yours’ nonsense.

While I do like knowing stats of certain players, I am not still fully convinced by the argument that has been presented. Taking his argument at face value, Giroud is just as good, if not better than Aguero. Do any of us really believe this? Speaking hypothetically (I don’t have as much time on my hands to go and search for the information but, this is just for argument sake), the amount of ‘shots’ at goal does not tell us whether or not Giroud has taken on any player before firing off said shot, or if it was a cut back where he was faced with an open goal. The stats presented does not tell us if there were shots from outside the box. The stats do not tell us from what angle the player is shooting and whether or not he is doing it in his stride or took it first time, got a deflection on the way through and on and on I could go but I think you get the idea by now.

For what it’s worth, I actually do think Giroud is a very good striker who is doing a decent job for Arsenal but, the tasks he is being asked to perform by Wenger and his team mates are very different to what is being asked of an Aguero or Kane or Cisse. At the end of the day, a target man striker like Giroud is going to be in the box more often than not, and be on the end of chances that are created for him where he will need to tower above a defender or be in the right place at the right time (make no mistake it is not as easy as it sounds at the highest level, especially the way defending teams pack the boxes these days) and I think that the criticism of Giroud stems from this, where these chances appear to be easier generally speaking, as they are much closer to goal. Players like Aguero are always going to drop a bit deeper to try and take on players and fire off low percentage chances that either pay off on a good day, and on a bad day they look rather selfish.

My conclusion is that these players are all pretty good in their own right (and Aguero is majestic), and all of them have off days in losses or wins, and have their bloody exceptional patches of form where everything they touch, turns to goal (see what I did there?). If Arsenal do end up winning the BPL this season, all those in the ‘Giroud cannot lead a title charge’ brigade are going to feel very foolish. Why not just wait for the usual Arsenal collapse and say at that point I told you so.
The Chetty (did not refer to the Agueros and Kanes of the world but hoping my point can still be valid)


…Daniel made a very good point this morning about Giroud’s conversion rates. He is on par with the rest of them.

The only thing with those stats is that they can also be misleading. Yes he may have converted about the same percentage of his shots as the others, but the quality of his chances are far greater.

There is a big difference between having a simple chance from eight yards and a difficult one from the edge of the box whilst under pressure.

It’s not just the amount of chances he misses, it’s the fact that he misses so many good chances that is the big problem. Week after week he spurns good chances to score. If you give an Aguero, or a Drogba, or a Henry, or a Ronaldo the very same chances that he gets, his conversion rate would be 15-20%, theirs would be closer to 50%.
Nick, CFC, Inverness


Giroud: Just not sexy
Syfq Amr seems to think it’s hard to hate Arsenal this season. He has reasons: Sanchez works hard and does some fancy stuff, Ozil…has good stats? Not actually sure what else he’s suggested as a reason there. And Giroud is handsome. Yep, that’s all it takes. Now we all love the gooners. Well, I say ‘we’. I mean ‘they’. I f**king hate them, for all of the usual reasons, and now one more: the suggestion that rival supporters will be wooed by that shambles of a list. Arsenal fans, what on earth is wrong with you? The PL’s moral police, silently ‘supporting’ their team, waiting to be entertained and ready to scowl down their noses at anyone who suggests that pinging in a handful of decent set-pieces isn’t quite the same as having a great game, nor does it prove the worth of a £50m transfer fee.

Always – ALWAYS – citing the most bulls**t of bulls**t reasons as to why they are superior, with ever-diminishing relevance. The top four trophy became the calendar year trophy, which became the most-assists-in-a-row trophy, and the ‘Look at his face, isn’t he darling?” trophy. The niceness of the players, the way they treat their mothers, that time when Cazorla bathed the feet of the leprous poor on the streets of India. F**k off with your ‘why would anyone hate us?’ – that is exactly why people would hate you. Not me though. For me it’s much simpler, you filthy gooner b**tards.

Syfq’s nonsense distracted me from my main point. It’s something that seems to come up in every mailbox: Giroud’s face. Now I know that there are those who will default to the usual ‘You don’t think he’s all that? Lol you must be one of da gayz!’ response, but it’s true: he ain’t all that. He just isn’t. Aguero is better-looking, yet how often is his face referenced in the mailbox? Rarely, if ever. Why? Because one of these men is good at his job and the other is a f**king chancer (or rather, a waste-chancer). It’s so desperate. ‘Yeah, he’s not the best striker but oooooh, look how pretty he is!’. Grown-ass men fluttering their eyelashes and cooing over a 6/10. That is how bad Giroud is: his biggest draw is a soap opera face, and we’re talking more Crossroads than Sunset Beach.

I don’t really care for the overblown ‘Yeah, he’s soooo sexy’ approach that a lot of heterosexual male supporters adopt these days. It’s so fake and try-hard, an overt demonstration of your correctness, like a teenager in a Mandela/Guevara half-and-half. But at least focus your pseudo-horn towards players who deserve it. Or, and this is just a suggestion, treat them like human beings and not sex objects?


More on Ozil/Oezil
Dear Steve (Going to be called a xenophobic PFM 80’s throwback)

The hype around Ozil was that he was an assist machine and was going to assist the hell out of the league. He has gone on to assist the hell out of the league, breaking records for it. You might say that the hype was justified.
Brian, LFC, Dublin


…Some good points in this morning’s mailbox from Nick Smith and Steve, however they’ve missed just the one vital point.

Oezil is a Ninja.

You can’t see him, what does he do? Why isn’t he running around kicking people etc etc.

The reason he is a great player is the same reason that people criticise him. He’s elusive. He slips off the radar then pops up to play the most perfectly weighted pass so someone just has to tap it in. Combine this with an excellent work rate and probably the best technique/first touch of anyone in the league and you quite simply have one of the best players we’ve seen on these shores.

Oezil, you don’t know what he does until it’s too late. That’s why he’s so good and that’s why it’s hilarious to see peoples heads exploding because he’s not a Headless English Chicken (HEC) TM
Fat Man Scouse (HEC, an embryonic PFM before taking the easy life on Sky Sports) EFC


…I agree with Joe from East Sussex about Ozil taking flak all the time, however I think it has to do with something else. I’ve been watching him keenly since he started at Real Madrid – in my mind, he’s the best player in the world. At present, more assists that the combined effort of Mata, Coutinho, Fabregas, and Hazard – how can you point fingers if there’s nothing?!

Aside from the fee paid for him (which has precious little to do with you or me, fellow punters), there is absolutely nothing he’s done worth the constant shit he gets. No player anywhere has a great game every outing, but he’s never had a bad one, he’s almost always involved in the play at both ends, he does it here, he did it at Real. CR7 was said to be pi**ed at Real for letting him go.

So what’s the issue? I’m going to ask it, not say it: Is there a subtle undercurrent of hatred for him because of his heritage? Mesut? Is there another Mesut in professional sport?

Has the ‘Holy Roman Empire’ taken offence that a lad from the other side is the best?

When there’s no other viable answer…
Gerard Neil, EMFC


Arsenal fine; shame about the fans…
‘It’s hard to hate Arsenal. Thoughts?’

Some nice players? Yep.
Enjoyable to watch? Yep.
Fantastic manager despite his flaws? Yep.
Would it be great to see them win the Premier League? Yep.

It’s a shame the supporters are so bloody annoying. (See Twitter, Arsenal Fan TV, Comments on any Arsenal article on any website with anything related to Arsenal.)


…Syfq Amr (a biased Gooner) mentions City and all their money ruining football and asks if it is now hard to hate Arsenal. Well actually it’s quite easy Stfq, because they have so many deluded and morally superior fans like you.

Oh, and if all City’s money disgusts you so much, maybe Arsenal should give back the £80m we’ve given you for players in recent years.
Howard, Manchester


…You’re forgetting one vital fact when it comes to liking (or at least not hating) the team that wins the league; yes, the players need to be likeable, but you need to couple that with fans that aren’t self-entitled, actually show passion in their own stadium, and don’t send in giddy emails about how well-liked their team is.

That’s why I really like City.
Peter (Too lazy to call you out on City’s finances ‘destroying football’) Klein


Learn the sodding language
I may be a little late with this but David Moyes being inevitably sacked by Real Sociedad got me thinking. One of the problems he had during his year in forin land was the fact that he didn’t speak Spanish. Seriously, he didn’t speak Spanish? You can pick up the basics in a few weeks if you really try and if you know French or almost any other language you can work it out pretty quickly. I know someone who had a work placement in Paris for a whole year and when I spoke to her on her return I asked how much French she’d learned in that time. She went bright red and said ‘nothing’. Seriously, nothing. Not one word. What an almighty waste of a fabulous opportunity. Is that not cringeworthingly embarrassing?

Anyway, that was a minor digression because the point I wanted to make was the lack of British managers in top-level football. This was again highlighted on SHOUTsport this morning (God knows why I was listening to it) and they just moaned saying not enough opportunities were given etc. No real solutions were suggested. I think the overwhelming problem (aside from chronically bad education) is that young footballers aren’t encouraged to play abroad. Why on earth wouldn’t they want to? You learn so much quicker when you are young and especially living outside of your comfort zone. Football technique on the continent is widely regarded as better so it would improve the national teams as well as be better for the domestic leagues when they return. Furthermore we’d have whole swathes of players who’d have a second or third language (unless they are lazy) which would make them infinitely more employable once they retire both in football management or in the real world when they get there.
JazGooner (I then switched my radio to FiveLive who were talking about breastfeeding in the work place. I have an opinion on that too)


Rovers need relegation
Just a note on the sacking of Gary Bowyer from Blackburn. Gary had a difficult job in more than difficult circumstances and what ultimately does sacking him gain us. Gary made some very good signings for us and his eye for a player is more than proven with both Cairney and Gestede sold on for multiples of what they were purchased for. The new manager will have no funds to buy and a patchwork squad made up of young players, free signings and a goalscorer that will ultimately be sold, be it in January or next summer.

Venkys have said “In order to move the club forward…” well guys when you bought us we were 10th in the Premier League so I don’t see how you have moved us forward since taking over. Oh and the FFP embargo that’s down to you also. So how you expect any manager to come and work for you under these conditions beggars belief. The list of potential replacements makes me want to shed a tear with Lambert, Sherwood and McLeish all being mentioned. So we are left with a choice of the inept and unable.

I used to believe we could climb the table steadily under Bowyer and get back into the Premier League but now I think we need to go down to league 1 or as low as it takes to rid ourselves of Venky’s and their toxic tenure.

I hope Gary gets picked up by another team shortly in some role he deserves better than we gave him.
David J. Knowles


Let’s talk Stoichkov
I won two tickets for Hagi v Stoichkov, sorry, Romania v Bulgaria, as St James’ Park in the Euro 96 group stage, so I took my Da along. [We got on telly, and I caught the ball and threw it to Hagi – thrill.]

It really was Hagi v Stoichkov, though. They were two of my idols; they were who I was most interested in seeing [back then, kids, we only really knew how good these guys were by trusting what we read in FourFourTwo/World Soccer, or by how accurately Championship Manager Italia rated them]. Even in the mid-90s they were only ever on highlights shows, at best.

Watching Stoichkov was fascinating. He started out as a sort of left-winger, ish, drifting in-field as he saw fit. He did so in the first three minutes or so to score a wonderful, calm, solo, dribble-and-pass-into-the-corner goal that would prove to be the only [given] goal of the match. [The Romanian Munteanu scored a Geoff Hurst-er that neither the lino nor the ref spotted had crossed the line by at least a yard.]

Then his performance turned somewhat eccentric. The Pistolero changed position. [Pre-match planning, or on a whim? Was he in charge of the team, anyway?] He played out the rest of the match as a quasi left-back, barely touching the ball, but just directing/bellowing angrily at his team mates. It was one of the oddest things I had ever seen – he totally dominated the match, from the touchline, without touching the ball. He barely broke into a trot. [He barely even broke into one when scoring his goal.]
Alex Stokoe, Newcastle upon Tyne


On the Spanish pyramid
I read the news that ex-Swansea goal machine Michu (he cost £2m dontyouknow) has been training with Union Langreo in fourth tier and thought I would take little look at the standard of the fourth tier in Spain.

Now, forgive me if people already know this (I am no hipster, although I have recently grown a beard) but below the second division Spanish football is incredible. There are 20 clubs in La Liga and then 22 in Segunda División. After this it gets crazy. There are 80 clubs in Segunda División B (the third division in old money) and 360 in the fourth tier, where little Michu is training.

Now, they are clearly not all professional, or maybe even semi-professional, but that is incredible. It has often been said English football is bloated with 92 league teams but 482? Their classified results service must take a while.
Micki \will somebody think of the poor vidiprinter/ Attridge


Just for the Irish…
Robert, London’s idea about having Graeme Souness and Roy Keane on the same panel is a good one. It would have to be on RTE, though, so all the good folks of Ireland could write in telling us how amazing the football is on RTE, and how it’s sooooo much better than what we get here (probably true), before explaining that what seems to make it so compelling is that it is basically a bunch of old men bickering, while those of us who’ve never seen it look bemused.

The literary Ed Quoththeraven

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