By Walter Broeckx
Regular readers of Untold Arsenal know that on this site on more than one occasion we have defended Oliver Giroud.
In fact when Tony compared his early days with those of Henry he was called some names. But the fact was that Giroud’s numbers were not that bad compared to the early days of Henry.
But in a way it was maybe unfair to compare Giroud with the best striker we have had in our club. I don’t expect Giroud to be the next Henry. I just let Giroud be the first Giroud for Arsenal.
Last weekend Giroud reached a first milestone. Olivier Giroud scored his 50th PL goal for Arsenal. He needed 113 matches to reach that number. And not in all of those 113 matches he started the match. Not starting a match for Arsenal results in usually coming on after 70 minutes. Giroud started in 92 matches.
So just looking at his starts one could say that he is a player that comes close to scoring 1 goal in 2 matches for Arsenal. That is a really good score if you ask me.
Now if we could compare Giroud who is 29 now with another player the best player to compare him with is…Jamie Vardy. In fact they had very similar careers in a way. Both went unnoticed for a big part of their career.
Giroud only became a professional player when he was 21 years old. Rather old for a player. One could say that Vardy only came above water when he was around 20 years old. Giroud first played at a lower division club Grenoble who were in the 5th tier of French football. He then gradually moved to the 3rd tier playing for Istres, then to the 2nd tier at Tours. And then finally made the step up to Montpellier with whom he to anyones surprise won the French League. And then he came to Arsenal.
Jamie Vardy can be said to have a similar career run slowly moving up to the PL at Leicester after having played for Stocksbridge Park Steels, Halifax and Fleetwood Town. So both are late blossomers one could say.
Much loved at Montpellier it must have been a shock for Giroud to find out how much hatred he could get from his own fans. Stepping in the footsteps of the traitor it wasn’t easy of course. Those who expected a copy of Van Persie were not given what they wanted. Giroud is no Van Persie and Van Persie will never be a Giroud type of player. Apart from being let footed they have completely different styles.
But now Giroud having reach 50 goals for Arsenal the stats are saying that he is the 3rd fastest player to reach that number. Faster than big names like… Dennis Bergkamp, Robin Van Persie… Only Wright and of course Henry reached that mark quicker than Giroud did. But surely this gives us a good indication on how good he has been and how valuable his performances have been.
If we add assists we see that he has been involved in 100 goals in fact. In the 158 matches he has been involved (not started!) he has scored 72 goals and has given 28 assits. So that is not bad at all. Being involved in one goal every 1.5 match in fact. Not bad at all.
So Giroud has gone in 8 years from the 5th tier in French Football to the PL and CL and world cup. He was a nobody at 21. And yet he has reached this height in his career. People wax lyrical over the rise of Jamie Vardy but we ignore the fact that we have our own Vardy in our team. They have had the same difficult path to the top.
Yet Vardy gets praised and Giroud gets abuse, even from his own fans. Although not us of course.
Giroud (and Vardy in a way) only made it through hard work. Giroud has always risen to the next challenge. From the 5th tier in France till the top in France and now in the PL. Not the most natural talent but he is the prime example that apart from talent you also need to have character to work. It will have been hard work for him. Every day on the training pitch. And I think that at times he must have wondered if he had reached his limits.
There were moments when things didn’t go his way. And then he got the full abuse from the moaners. Wenger putting him on the bench and starting other forwards…. It must have been hard from time to time. A few unlucky matches in which he couldn’t even score the easiest goals… but those things are part of the life of a striker.
Giroud has always in his career shown enormous mental strength to overcome the next hurdle. Even if it seemed an impossible hurdle to take. Olivier just pulled himself together and raised himself to the challenge.
Some players are flashy and live on their speed, their trickery… Giroud doesn’t have burning pace. But with him upfront you know that you will have a player who gives himself as much as possible. His work off the ball is mostly neglected as it isn’t pretty to see or not that easy to see on the TV screen. But when you see him on the field and watch him move around you notice that he is working his socks off in every match. Even when being unlucky he never will give up and he will try to do better when the ball comes again.
But for some unknown reason those few bad matches that he had (and that any striker has) remain in the memory more than the strong ones. Maybe it is when he is no longer be an Arsenal player that we will remember him better? Maybe we now remember Henry as a goal machine but let me tell you he also had some bad matches when he couldn’t score. But now we pretend that Henry just scored each time he stepped on the field. No, he didn’t.
I appreciate Giroud for what he is and for what he brings to our team. He is no Messi, Suarez, Ronaldo, Henry, Wright or Bergkamp. No he is Giroud. With his flaws but also with his excellent performances, hard work, battling the whole 90 minutes for every ball.
Congratulation Olivier with reaching the mark of 50 PL goals for Arsenal. May we see you score many more over the next years. Because you have raised yourself always to the next level. After reaching 50 the next step can only be about reaching 100 goals. I somehow feel that if you don’t get injured you will reach that goal faster than the first 50.
- 16 December 1970: Charlie George played his first game for the first team since an injury on the opening day of the league campaign. This match was against Beveren in the Fairs Cup 3rd round.
- 16 December 1983 Terry Neill was dismissed. He was the 15th most successful manager at the club with a win percentage at under 45%. He did however lead the side to one FA Cup triumph against Man U.
If you would to know a bit more about our publisher then there’ is an interview with Tony Attwood here.