After being some of the field issues and being dropped from the last two matches, Olivier Giroud got the chance to exercise some demons against Sunderland. Giroud had been dropped for the Liverpool FA Cup match, which wasn’t a total surprise, and the midweek match vs Bayern Munich. His dropping in the latter game shocked everyone and made people question Giroud’s mental state. At this point, all Giroud could have done was go out and put in a good performance and that is exactly what he did against Sunderland.
This ended up being the perfect game for Giroud to come back and increase his confidence. Whilst the Frenchman was very good but Sunderland didn’t exactly make it difficult as they basically didn’t show up. Arsenal’s number twelve bagged himself two goals and an assist in what was arguably Arsenal’s easiest game of the season. Giroud was a big player in Arsenal’s 4-1 win and, at least for the moment, is back in the fans good graces.
Giroud took two shots the entire match scoring on both with both being clear cut chances. Giroud won four of his six aerial duels and eight of his 14 ground duels. He completed 71% of his passes with 91% of those being in the attacking half and made three penalty area entries, tied for second most in the team. The Frenchman attempted more through balls than any other Arsenal player and created only one chance but it was a clear cut chance that let to Arsenal’s third goal.
Olivier Giroud was the focal point in the Arsenal attack primarily setting up with his back to goal winning aerial duels and linking the play together. The Frenchman had struggled in recent weeks, possibly due to tiredness, but was back to his best linking the play together and running around hustling opponents. Giroud’s early goal seemed to be an immense help to him raising his confidence levels. After that goal, Arsenal’s main striker started attempting the intricate flicks he has become known for since arriving at Arsenal. One of Giroud’s flicks paid dividends creating the third goal for the gunners. The Frenchman was the fulcrum in another amazing Arsenal team goal. After a few one touch passes, Tomas Rosicky passed to Giroud who flicked the ball around the corner for Rosicky to run onto and neatly flick over the Sunderland keeper, Vito Mannone. Giroud has not been getting into these good positions as often in recent weeks, possibly due to fatigue, and has been attempting fewer of these intricate passes, possibly due to low confidence. With a week off and an early goal, both of these things were restored and Giroud was back to his best as Arsenal’s main striker and as their attacking focal point.
Giroud had two flashpoints in the game, both of his goals. After a long draining defeat to Bayern Munich in midweek, an early goal was key to get the pressure off and he provided just that. To start the first goal, Jack Wilshere made a pass to Lukas Podolski. Podolski passed to Tomas Rosicky who made a short first touch squared ball to Wilshere. Sunderland’s centre back, Santiago Vergini, went to close Rosicky down and was fooled by the square pass to Wilshere. That allowed Wilshere to get behind Vergini and forced the other centre back, John O’Shea, to leave Giroud to close down Wilshere. Giroud then went away from the ball into the space left by O’Shea. Wilshere played a reverse ball to the French International who had space to put the chance away for the early goal Arsenal craved.
Giroud’s other flashpoint was his second goal and it was a gift from Sunderland. After the first 20 minutes of completely not showing up, Sunderland gradually started to get back into the game. After dominating most of the game, Arsenal really needed a second goal. Sunderland were passing around the back with Mannone, Vergini, and Bardsley. Mannone passes out to Vergini who passes to Bardsley. Bardsley immediately gave it back to Vergini. When Bardsley passed the ball back Giroud started moving to intercept the pass that he thought Vergini would make. Vergini failed to look back and quickly passes back to Mannone. With Giroud running back to goal he intercepted the pass. Giroud then put the ball between Mannone’s legs and into the back of the net for the key second goal.
After a turbulent week, Giroud got his chance to put himself back in the good graces of his manager and fans. Giroud took that chance and played very well. Hopefully for Olivier Giroud he can continue to play well and continue to put his bad form behind him. He will also hope to do the same with his personal issues but do that in private. If Giroud continues to play like this, Arsenal’s chances of winning a trophy goes up by a significant amount and that’s the bottom line for Giroud and Arsenal.