HomeTeams - PLArsenalA Statistical-Strategic Approach to Understanding Olivier Giroud's Game

A Statistical-Strategic Approach to Understanding Olivier Giroud’s Game

The start to this season has not been the one Arsenal expected. At a time when competitors have hit the ground running, Arsenal have made a slow start. While they did sign Lucas Pérez from Deportivo La Coruna; Olivier Giroud, Arsenal’s main striker for the last four seasons, is expected to continue in his role as the leader of the striking contingent.


Arguably, no striker divides opinion like the Frenchman. He has been booed by his own fans and criticism has been constantly made of his ability to lead the line.  Arsene Wenger, the Arsenal manager, though has been fairly insistent in calling Olivier Giroud ‘world-class’. Amidst the heap of polarising and subjective opinions thrown around, a systematic analysis of Giroud’s game has not been made to understand the strengths and weaknesses in his game. To do so, this article uses a combination of statistical approach with a strategic perspective. The objectives of the article being

  • To analyse Olivier Giroud’s game on every dimension in comparison to other strikers in Europe.
  • To determine the strengths and weaknesses in Olivier Giroud’s game to identify the areas needing improvement.

The article undertakes a statistical analysis of top five strikers’ output in each of Europe’s top five leagues to determine the answers. Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) test was conducted to determine if the mean goals scored by top five strikers in each league were different, yielding a p-value of 0.87, indicating that cross-case comparisons could be undertaken as the means are not significantly different. For uniformity purposes, indicators for all dimensions were taken on a scale of hundred minutes played in respective leagues from the concluded season of 2015-16 and obtained from Whoscored.com. For example, the shots converted statistic tells the number of goals scored per hundred minutes from the total shots taken per hundred minutes in the respective league.

  1. Analysing Olivier Giroud’s game on every dimension in comparison to other strikers

The first duty of a striker to score goals. The focus in today’s hyper-competitive football world is on the number of goals scored by the striker as he happens to be the focal point of a team’s attack and the more he scores, the better the team’s chances of winning a game. On this front, Olivier Giroud has been termed as ‘inconsistent’. He goes on barren spells, which at their worst have lasted for as much as 15 games at a stretch, or 882 minutes to be precise. The chart below indicates the goals scored by strikers per hundred minutes, which can help us objectively understand where Olivier Giroud stands in comparison to other strikers.

Giroud Sept Article 1

Olivier Giroud ranks 17th in the overall list based on the goals scored per hundred minutes. While strikers such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored 1.49 goals per hundred minutes in the league, the Arsenal striker scored less than half that number: 0.66. In the Premier League, he lags behind three of his contemporaries, only bettering Romelu Lukaku’s output of 0.57 goals per hundred minutes.

In terms of chances created, which measures the assists made by the striker as well as the shots on goal from the striker’s final pass, Olivier Giroud ranks 10th on the overall list. While his 1.65 chances created per hundred minutes in the Premier League appears much lower than Paulo Dybala’s chart-topping output of 3.26, Giroud is ahead of most of the Premier League strikers, his output in the category only bettered by Jamie Vardy’s 1.76.

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In terms of the total shots taken by strikers per hundred minutes played, Olivier Giroud ranks 4th in the overall list. He takes 5.16 shots per hundred minutes and leads the way amongst Premier League strikers.

Giroud Sept Article 3

However, problems start appearing when further probing is done on this front.  In terms of shot accuracy, which measures the number of shots on target, Olivier Giroud’s output of 2.03 shots on target per hundred minutes gives him a healthy 9th rank, while the likes of Sergio Agüero, despite having lesser attempted shots, have a greater accuracy output. It is also worth noting that the three strikers ahead of Giroud in terms of shots attempted (Zlatan Ibrahimović, Gonzalo Higuain, and Robert Lewandowski), more or less manage to keep their position in the accuracy ranking.

Giroud Sept Article 4

The scenario can be better understood by looking at the percentage of accurate shots from the total shots attempted, and it explains the exact problems in Olivier Giroud’s game. Of all the 25 strikers, Olivier Giroud’s 39% (0.39) shot accuracy is the lowest.

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Similarly, Olivier Giroud’s ability to convert attempted shots to goals is also the lowest on the list. His output of 13% (0.13), which is 13 goals scored per hundred shots taken, is far lower than the likes of Luis Suarez, who averages 29%. The closest Premier League striker to Olivier Giroud is Romelu Lukaku, who marginally does better with 15% output.

Giroud Sept Article 6

In terms of teamwork though, Olivier Giroud’s statistics read much better. Analysing the aerial duels, tackles, and interceptions won per hundred minutes which make up the cumulative score, he stands 5th on the list. His ability to work for the team can be understood by the fact that even in individual categories, he ranks in top five for two categories and top ten for another.

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  1. To determine the strengths and weaknesses in Olivier Giroud’s game for providing recommendations

A proper summary of the results obtained would be necessary to provide recommendations, and it is listed in the table below.

Giroud Sept Article Table

It can be seen from the last column of the table that taking shots and working for the team are Olivier Giroud’s core competencies. Even his chance creation for teammates puts him in an advantageous competitive position against other strikers. Weaknesses in his game however, are to do with his goal-return per hundred minutes, shot accuracy, and shot conversion. His shot-accuracy and shot-conversion output put him in a major competitive disadvantage, which in turn affects his goal-return. The focus for Olivier Giroud must be on improving his shot accuracy, which will in turn give him better chances of converting his shots and thereby improving his goal return – considering that shots on target carry a directly proportional relationship with conversion rate; while at the same time it would serve him well to not forego his core competencies- attempting shots and working for the team.

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