I like Olivier Giroud; he's strong, good in the air, a real team player, has a very good left foot and his link-up play has improved a lot this season. And he has indeed improved his overall play this season, the early part of the season saw such a dramatic rise in form from last season. He was scoring goals left, right and centre and setting a lot of chances up.
However that direct contribution to goals and chances has somewhat dried up over the last couple of months. Despite a low tally of goals since the start of November his goals have still earned wins against Southampton and Newcastle, but shouldn't the main striker of a top of the league club be scoring more often? Or does it even matter?
You could argue it doesn't matter because we are top of the league anyway, irrespective of Giroud not banging them in to the extent he was in August and September. I do think he's improved a lot this season and I admire his work rate and how much of a team player he is. But his lack of regular goal-scoring and clinical finishing concerns me a bit. He has missed big chances in big games, such as Chelsea and Everton, of late (and those aren't the first occasions). So my question is, is he good enough over the course of a season to be a champion?
There aren't many "big" games he's scored in so far in an Arsenal shirt; he's yet to score against Man Utd, Man City, Everton and Chelsea but does have two goals (one winning goal) against Tottenham and one goal against Liverpool. He's not a 30 goals a season man but his contribution stretches way beyond just goal-scoring.
I will always give a striker a credit for being in the right place to get goal-scoring chances and he's always done that. "You've got to be there to miss them" has been a phrase I've come across a lot in football, and it's true. The really worrying sign is if a striker is going a few games without even having a chance.
Giroud does get chances but they're virtually all from crosses or passes inside the box. He's rarely clean through one on one or creating one on the edge of the box for himself. The lack of variation is in his goals concerns me a bit, it makes him perhaps more predictable and therefore easier to mark than the likes of Suarez and Rooney. When you think about it his goals are often similar- headers or shots from crosses.
But he is a very good player nonetheless, I just think we should be looking for a better option as well. You should always be looking to improve anyway and I do believe we can win the title without a new striker in our team. Because, hey, we're top of the league after 20 games with him as our usual striker and he's done well. So why can't we still be top after 38 games with him as our main striker? Why change a winning formula?
He's not at Suarez or Aguero level but would players like that bring the best out of Ozil, Walcott, Cazorla and Ramsey etc. as well as he does? Should we be looking beyond the "direct" contributions (goals and assists) and actually be looking deeper into his game and appreciating the "indirect" contributions that go unvalued at times?
I think so, I'm not saying Suarez or Aguero wouldn't be as good as Giroud in our system, I'm suggesting that Giroud is very valuable to us. And isn't that far off Suarez and Aguero in terms of value to our team.
Bayern Munich look a great side and have won the Champions League and the Bundesliga without, in my opinion, having a top class striker. They share the goals around much like Arsenal do and have a good, not top class, (again, like Arsenal) striker who is extremely valuable to the team. Both teams share a similar way of playing in this respect, a lot of creative and skillful midfielders feeding off the team ethic, hard work, hold-up play and strength of their front man. It's a good teamwork mode of playing and it suits us well.
In conclusion, because of the variety of contributions Giroud makes to our team all over the pitch and the fact that he offers a different dimension to our team that our other, smaller players don't, I think he is good enough to be the number one striker in a title winning Arsenal side. Plus if he had an early season purple patch goals-wise, there's a good chance he'll have another one before the season's up. But that's not to say we shouldn't be looking to improve further by adding another really good striker. After all, he could get jaded and we don't want to be too reliant on him up front. I'm not we should change the winning formula, I just think we should add to it to improve.