Every Premier League season has its own heroes and losers; ups and downs. Some teams are under-achieving, and some are flying high. Some players are making their fans ecstatic with the way they play, and some are just hugely disappointing. Finally, some transfers turn out to be great moves, and some are just more or less expensive flops.
This campaign is no different. It has its heroes in the likes of Begovic, Michu, Suarez or Van Persie, though there are also some losers. Which group is Olivier Giroud in? Well, definitely not the first one. The Frenchman has been signed by Arsenal to fill the gap left by departing Robin van Persie, whose great form saved their last season, but he still fails to make an impact that every Gooner expected him to make. Despite the two goals scored by Giroud in yesterday’s FA Cup tie against Brighton, the level of his league appearances is still below par.
Placed seventeenth in top scorers charts, netting just eight times so far, Olivier is far from making Arsenal fans forget their once beloved Van Persie, who is now topping the list as a Manchester United player. In fact, Giroud is not even close to fourth-placed Michu with 13 goals, and looks much worse than fifth placed Edin Dzeko, who scored 10 times playing much less. It is also quite remarkable that every single goal scored by the Frenchman came from inside the box, while all of top five scorers netted at least one from outside the penalty area.
With just 60.76% pass completion Giroud is nowhere near the man, whose place he was supposed to take, as Van Persie completed 72.36% of the passes he made this term. In fact, every one of Premier League’s top five scorers had more than 70% accurate passes, which makes last season’s French Ligue 1 top scorer look even worse. It’s the same with open play pass completion – 63% is just not enough for a player whose ambition is to be one of the best strikers in the league.
The closer look at Giroud’s passing makes it seem even worse. While his defensive zone pass completion is not that bad at 81%, the closer to the goal his passes are made, the less accurate they get. 55% attacking zone pass completion and 51% final 3rd pass completion are really bad as for an Arsenal striker. After all, Arsene Wenger’s side were always looking to play possession-based, attacking football and accurate passing has been fundamental for that approach to work. Again, Giroud is miles behind Van Persie and still far away from the other top scorers, as even the worst passers of them, Demba Ba and Edin Dzeko, managed to make more than 60% of their passes reach the target.
Finally, time to take a closer look at Olivier’s goalscoring, which is Frenchman’s biggest problem this term. After netting 21 times in his last Ligue 1 season, he obviously found it hard to score in England, as his shots have found their way to the net only eight times so far. It means he scores a goal every 167 minutes spent on the pitch. In other words; Giroud has to play almost two full games of football to score a goal which isn’t bad at all – it’s just not as good as the others in the league (Editor’s Note: I remember the days when anyone who scored 1 goal in 2 games was a decent striker!). You cannot say that he’s not trying though, because he takes a shot every 26 minutes. It means his shooting frequency is pretty much the same as the top five scorers in the league reached. His shooting accuracy is top five too, with 48% of his shots being on goal meaning he’s at the same level as second-placed Luis Suarez, whose shooting accuracy is 47%. As for a chance conversion, it could be a little bit higher, but 15% is not that bad.
The worst chance converter of all the top five strikers, Suarez have scored 17% of his chances and is still just two goals behind Van Persie, who’s chance conversion of 26% is biggest of all the top goalscorers. What makes the real difference between Giroud and this season’s most prolific strikers is the clear-cut chance conversion. Making just 22% of his clear-cut chances end up in the back of the net, Olivier is far from being a great finisher. Actually his clear-cut chance conversion is even worse than Fernando Torres’ 27%. Considering those numbers, it’s hard to wonder why both mentioned players are under constant criticism from their fans. With such a poor finishing, the Arsenal striker is nowhere near the league’s best goalscorers, as the worst clear-cut chance converter of them, Van Persie has still made 39% of his clear-cut chances count. The rest of those topping the scoring charts have clear-cut chance conversion of about 50%.
Signing for the London club as Ligue 1’s best striker and struggling to make an impact on Arsenal’s season, Giroud is definitely a big disappointment if compared to his predecessor but is it too early to judge? Whether he needs time to adapt to English football or just isn’t good enough to fit Premier League standards remains to be seen.
There is still huge work he has to do if he wants to become one of the very best. His passing needs improvement if he is to become more useful for his team and adjust to Arsene Wenger’s philosophy. But most of all, his finishing needs vast improvement as the number of clear-cut chances he converts is way too low. Giroud has to improve, and this improvement needs to be quick. His side is still battling for top four spot, and if they are to succeed in this fight, they’ll need their French striker to start scoring.
All of the stats from this article have been taken from the Opta Stats Centre at EPLIndex.com – Subscribe Now (Includes author privileges!) Check out our new Top Stats feature on the Stats Centre which allows you to compare all players in the league & read about new additions to the stats centre.