Olivier Giroud - Key to Arsenal's aspirations this season?

Olivier Giroud - Key to Arsenal's aspirations this season?

Arsene Wenger has slowly reintegrated his Euro 2016 stars, despite pressure from the fans and that could prove to be a masterstroke in the long run. They have managed to pick up four points from the opening three matches, which isn’t bad, but they have already fallen five points off the pacesetters. As a club, Arsenal need to be challenging for the title and their late transfer business has increased optimism around the club. The key to their title hopes may be Olivier Giroud. Many were expecting the club to bring in a top tier striker to replace the Frenchman, with Alexandre Lacazette and Alvaro Morata being linked to the Emirates Stadium. Wenger remained loyal to Giroud and the pressure is now on the striker to finally break the 20-goal barrier in the Premier League for the first time in his career.

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Many were expecting the club to bring in a top tier striker to replace the Frenchman, with Alexandre Lacazette and Alvaro Morata being linked to the Emirates Stadium. Wenger remained loyal to Giroud and the pressure is now on the striker to finally break the 20-goal barrier in the Premier League for the first time in his career. He is a much-maligned figure within the media and the Arsenal fanbase, but he remains the best striker at the club and needs to be fully supported.

Since moving to Arsenal, he has scored 57 league goals in 136 appearances. His strike rate is good, finding the back of the net once every 170.5 minutes, which is better than a goal every other game. This isn’t as impressive as the best strikers in the league, but he is a reliable source of goals and Arsenal are better with him in the side. His absence has been notable during the first three matches as the Gunners don’t have an able deputy. Alexis Sanchez has been leading the line and he lacks the physicality to carry out the role. He is much better on the left wing and Giroud’s return will allow him to move back there.

Arsene Wenger prefers a physical striker to lead the line, one that can hold the ball up and bring the array of talented midfielders into the game. Giorud is good in the air, averaging 2.7 successful aerial duels a match last season. This is impressive as Arsenal are a side that normally keep the ball on the floor. He is also effective when it comes to shielding the ball, an area of his game that has developed a lot since he arrived in England.

The signing of Lucas Perez could have a positive influence on Giroud. It takes the goal-scoring burden off the Frenchman, which has weighed heavily over the past few years. Danny Welbeck offered good competition at times, but he has suffered from several injuries since moving to Arsenal. The Spaniard offers a different threat to Giroud and his arrival will prevent Arsenal from being predictable, which they have been in the past. Although Perez does provide competition for Giroud, he isn’t a huge name and as such, the 29-year-old will still be first choice at the club. The Frenchman would have feared for his future at the club over the summer, with huge names being linked to the Emirates Stadium. However, Wenger has placed his faith in Giroud and that should boost his confidence ahead of the new season.

The pressure is on Giroud this season and he will be required to score more than 20 goals if Arsenal are to challenge for the title. He is unfairly criticised at times as he has been a consistent goal-scorer for Arsenal since joining and offers a real physical presence that allows the midfield to thrive. He has been missed during the first three matches, but he should be ready to play at the weekend and needs to have a strong start to keep the doubters at bay.