After a difficult first season in the Premier League, Olivier Giroud has had a much improved start to this season and that improvement is a big part of why Arsenal are top of the league heading into the international break. Giroud was highly criticized after struggling in his first season at the Emirates but has really improved his game and is justifying the faith Arsene Wenger showed in him after Arsenal did not buy a big time striker this summer. While the obvious improvement in his game has been in his goal scoring, Giroud has improved multiple facets of his game this season.
As a striker, the defensive side of the game is not Giroud’s top priority but, even the striker, needs to press and put in a shift defensively. Giroud has been getting himself stuck in a bit more this season making a tackle every 87 minutes compared to last season when he only made one every 122 minutes. Giroud has also been able to win the ball back more often winning it back every 47 minutes as opposed to last season when he won possession every 73 minutes. Giroud has been endearing himself to the fans not only with his goals but also with the effort he has put in for the team.
While Giroud has the big imposing figure of a target man, Giroud does offer creativity as every player must in Arsenal’s fluid passing system. After only three league assists all of last season, Giroud has already grabbed two assists and has been creating chances every 51 minutes while last season he was only able to create a chance every 68 minutes. Giroud has also been able to create good chances more often for his team mates. Giroud has created a clear cut chance every 202 minutes while creating them every 464 minutes last season and has already created three while he only created three throughout the entirety of last season. While taking people on is not a big part of Giroud’s game, Giroud has completed four of his seven attempted dribbles (57%) as opposed to last season where he completed 11 of his 45 attempted dribbles last season (24%).
The bread and butter of a striker is the goal scoring and it’s a place where Giroud did not excel last season. While Giroud did get himself 11 goals last season, he really struggled with his finishing. 11 goals in someone’s first season in the Premier League is not bad by any means but Giroud’s did not finish well enough for all of the chances that were created for him. Last season, Giroud was able to finish a measly 13% of his chances, second worst in the Premier League among people with at least 75 shots, above only Papiss Cisse. This season he has been able to finish 21% of his chances. A big problem was that Giroud missed the easy chances last season. Last season Giroud had 23 clear cut goal scoring opportunities but was only able to finish four of them (17%) which was the worst among all players with at least 50 shots last season. He had this problem from the very beginning of his Arsenal career when he missed a fantastic chance on his debut that could have been the winner in a 0-0 draw vs Sunderland. Giroud has always been someone who has a strong second season though. With his last two clubs, Montpellier and Tours, he scored 10 more goals in his second season than he did in his first. Giroud has greatly improved so far, taking two of his three clear cut chances this season (67%) and scoring four Premier League goals, six in all competitions.
Giroud will need to keep up his good form if Arsenal are to sustain any kind of title challenge and so far he has done well this season. Many people questioned why Arsenal did not bring in a top class striker, like Luis Suarez or Gonzalo Higuain, but maybe some of Giroud’s success has come down to having a boss who clearly believes in him. Arsene Wenger will hope his form continues and help Arsenal end their eight year trophy drought. Olivier Giroud will hope to continue to prove that he is good enough and that he can be the first choice striker in a trophy winning side.