The topic on everyone’s lips at the moment must be that wonder goal from Arsenal against Norwich on Saturday. Easily an early contender for goal of the season, this was not your typical 30-yard thunderbolt or acrobatic overhead kick, but one of the most sublime team goals you will ever see. A move including the returning Cazorla, the focus of this article Olivier Giroud and finished off by Wilshere; it had the Norwich defence in shock, whilst everyone else dumbfounded. The one-two passing and even a flick or two within the move was just the cherry on top of what was an excellent Gunners performance.
So far this season, Arsenal have been flying high with all fears after an opening day defeat at home to Aston Villa put at ease, with the likes of Aaron Ramsey and the big money acquisition of Mesut Ozil firing on all cylinders. However, much of their good play so far has involved the big Frenchman Giroud.
Last season he was given his chance in the Premier League by Arsene Wenger after impressive displays for French side Montpellier. In 24 appearances last season he managed to clock up 11 goals (17 overall) and 3 assists without making a huge impression, as Walcott and Cazorla stole the limelight after a great end to the campaign. I for one certainly didn’t see him as someone to make to you quake in your boots as an opposition defender.
With Podolski (now injured) not favoured in the striking role, it left Giroud being the only recognised centre-forward, with Nicklas Bendtner clearly kept at the club as a back-up. Even with the arrival of Ozil, many fans still felt that they were short of numbers upfront. With a scenario of Giroud injured (hoping not to jinx anything here) or on poor form and Bendtner not firing, who would they turn to?
However, for the moment these thoughts need not cross anyone’s mind. With 4 goals in the first 4 games, Giroud has been one of the main catalysts to Arsenal’s blistering start to the season. He was again the main man up front again on the weekend and although it was a scintillating attacking display against the Canaries, it was Giroud’s creativity that was evident rather than his shooting/attacking.
Giroud Influence vs. Norwich
Although his stats from the match doesn’t specifically show that he had the best game, it was his influence to bring the attacking midfielders like Wilshire, Cazorla and Ozil into the forward roles which was key.
His attacking dashboard from game does not look amazing on paper but what they do show is how he was in position to pass in and around the box, in order to get his team mates into a shooting position or help build an attack as shown with his 2 assists. His passing within the defensive and midfield areas were at 100%, whilst only at a 66% within the attacking third. This I feel is mainly down to the range of difficulty in his passing, with a few audacious balls into his team mates in order produce a chance. An example of this was in the first goal with a neat pass into Wilshere, who then gave it back to Giroud for him to produce a lovely flick pass around the defender playing Wilshere onside to finish off the move.
The creativity stats above from the season so far show Giroud top of the table for assists and team mates Ramsey and Ozil just behind but still in the top 5. With 4 assists he has produced more than his tally for the whole of the 2012/2013 season which can only be a good sign for the fans if your striker is creating goals as well as scoring them
After the performance on the weekend – and as whole as whole so far this season – it is easy to see how well Giroud has adapted himself at Arsenal. It’s always going to take time to get used to the hustle and bustle of the Premier League but now he has had a season to familiarise himself, he seems settled into the style of football Arsene Wenger wants to see. However, with only 8 games gone, is it just a flash in the pan? Arsenal fans will hope not.
Oh, and it would be wrong of me not to leave this with you.