French beards, thunderous headers, last-gasp winners and scorpion kicks. We have seen Olivier Giroud do it all – lauded by Arsenal fans and equally dismissed by many too.
His recent deadline day switch to London rivals Chelsea is not worthy of much debate now that the Gunners broke their club-record transfer fee to sign Borussia Dortmund’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Having been sidelined for sustained periods this term, Giroud’s frustration was clear by the number of substitute appearances he has made. His compatriot Alexandre Lacazette, who joined Arsenal himself last summer in a similar big-money switch from Lyon, has struggled for consistency in-front of goal and despite his overall contribution, is continually being criticised for failing to set the top-flight wild with goals galore thus far.
Álvaro Morata’s issues with troublesome injuries continues and Giroud could potentially usurp the Spaniard – at least temporarily – to become the club’s first-choice striker going forward. Michy Batshuayi’s loan move to Dortmund was confirmed, also weakening Antonio Conte’s attacking options in the process.
Giroud has been a part of an unpredictable Arsenal side who have undergone too many changes without real stability behind them. Derby wins, last-minute comebacks, FA Cup fixtures at Wembley – he has seen it all, except a Premier League medal.
Playing with top-quality forwards like Mesut Özil and Alexis Sánchez has helped develop his own game too, but his departure was never expected to be such an abrupt one given the circumstances.
105 goals and 41 assists in 253 appearances is a commendable goal tally, especially when you consider an increasing portion of those matches were brief cameos from the substitutes’ bench where he would’ve been expected to help conjure up late goals.
From a Chelsea perspective, a frontline with Eden Hazard, Willian and Giroud looks a menacing prospect for defenders to defend against. More physicality as well as experience in comparison to Morata, it’ll be interesting to see whether he succeeds in west London.
Sitting with 50 points from 25 league matches, Chelsea are level with Liverpool and three points behind second-placed Manchester United at present. Given their recent struggles, Giroud will be keen to make an instant impact as they aim to leapfrog both top-four rivals and secure a second-placed spot ahead of next season.