Pitchside Europe

Underrated Giroud the man to lead Arsenal to the title

The assertion that Arsenal require a proven forward to sustain their title surge is completely unfounded.

It is entirely remiss to measure Olivier Giroud’s contribution to Arsenal’s cause purely in goals scored – it is archaic to do so, in fact. Football has evolved from players being rigidly tied to a set of characteristics that define their role in the team.

Giroud embodies this more than any other player in this current Arsenal side.

While far from Arsenal’s standout performer, he is absolutely integral – his importance is not tied to Arsenal’s apparent dearth of quality up front but the selfless role he performs to allow Arsenal’s dizzying array of midfield talent to dictate from deep.

Whenever challenged to invest heavily, Arsene Wenger has always retained an almost incongruous composure; even amid the throes of transfer crises, Wenger continually reiterated his belief in the team - even when his team appeared to be pillaged by its title rivals. The ethos of team is paramount to Wenger. Giroud augments this Arsenal team.

While it goes without saying that goalscoring is a prerequisite to playing up front, it is not fundamental to the incumbent leading Arsenal’s line. Arsenal are the third most potent team plying their trade in the Premier League behind Manchester City and Liverpool – with Giroud the league’s joint-sixth most lethal goalscorer.

City are a complete attacking anomaly, having racked up over 100 goals in all competitors; while, given the preference to a lone attacker pervading the league, Liverpool’s now unique-ish two-pronged attack has borne considerable fruits but left them susceptible to conceding.

Giroud perfectly fits Arsenal’s modus operandi. His haranguing nature at the point of this Arsenal team sets the tone for this side’s insatiable desire to recover the ball once lost; while the finesse that marks his link-up play sees him highly adept at bringing teammates into the game – maybe even the best in the league.

Granted his finishing can be wayward at times but his statistics compare favourably against forwards often more feted than the French international.

Romelu Lukaku has been exceptional for Everton this season but is level with Giroud in the scoring charts; Giroud, though, has assisted five to the Belgian’s four. However, general consensus seems to dictate that the Belgian is a more complete player than Giroud. Alongside Lukaku and Giroud on nine Premier League goals is none other than the in vogue Alvaro Negredo.

Furthermore, Mario Mandzukic is some way short of belonging to the higher echelons of the striking fraternity but Bayern Munich managed to claim an unprecedented treble last season with the Croat at the point of their attack.

Mandzukic is evidence that it is the system, and not the specifics of the players that operate within it that dictates how successful a team is. Of course the system must contain superlative players and be tailored to suit the personnel, and Giroud’s attributes perfectly suit this superlative midfield-heavy Arsenal side.

Therefore, the clamour for an outstanding striker in this Arsenal side is misplaced.

There was surprise when Wenger shelled out £42 million on Mesut Ozil this summer but Wenger has been consistent that he will sign a player, regardless of price, as long as the price represents value.

For his attributes, there is, this column posits, no striker currently available that would give more value to this Arsenal team than Olivier Giroud.

Follow on twitter - mmjfoley