Arsene Wenger says Olivier Giroud’s comparatively late climb up football’s ladder has stood him in good stead for the challenge of life at Arsenal.
Praising the 28-year-old as one of the game’s best strikers – why wouldn’t you…the handsome fella has bagged 17 goals in 26 games this term – the boss noted that his compatriot has improved all elements of his game since signing from Montpellier three years ago.
“He is a player who has a good mental strength because at 22 he was playing in division three,” Wenger told Arsenal.com. “Now he plays at Arsenal. There is still room for improvement for him.
“He benefits from the fact that he has not started a few games. He has also improved his technical game. Technically he is a much better player and that’s why he scores goals.
“His touch, his link play, his finishing [has all improved]. He takes some images from when he arrived in England and today he is a better player.
“I think [he is one of the best strikers around] because he scores the goals, has a presence and he’s a fighter as well. Above all he is a team player – he fights for the team.”
In an interesting Daily Mail column last week [not something we often say], Martin Keown noted how Arsene Wenger has taken to deploying Giroud in the same way George Graham utilised John Hartson; as an old-school physical presence.
“[Giroud’s] involvement shows how Wenger’s philosophy has almost come full circle,” wrote Keown.
“When he arrived he sold John Hartson and instead opted for pacy forwards. Now he has reverted to Giroud, who is in a similar mould — there’s not a great deal of difference between a Welsh battering ram and a French one.
“Not to say they are one-dimensional players, far from it. Hartson was technically sound, a giant in the air and provided a different attacking dimension. Giroud offers the same. But Wenger now seems to want physicality back at the top of the side.
“That means the team have had to play in a different way, though that is not a bad thing. Giroud’s link-up play is exceptional and Arsenal use him like a backboard, holding up play and waiting for others to run from deep and join the attack and he has been at the heart of many of Arsenal’s best team goals.”
We’re not convinced that Giroud represents a totally new phenomenon in the Wenger era, after all Emmanuel Adebayor provided a similarly destructive presence for a couple of season (when he could be arsed).