By Walter Broeckx
Are we seeing the French Ligue 2011-2012 being redone in the PL this season?
When I looked in to the stats of Olivier Giroud I asked myself this question. I have written about the career of Giroud when he came to Arsenal before. And I then pointed at the fact that in his second season he usually did much better than in his first season. He just needs some time to adapt to each new situation.
In his first season at Montpellier, he scored 12 goals and had 3 assists in the league. He almost doubled those numbers in his second season scoring 21 goals with 9 assists in the league. So a goal contribution of 30 goals in total in the league.
Now what is more interesting is that this was the first season in which whatever oil country it was bought PSG. So little Montpellier (with all respect of course) had to stand up to the giant club that PSG is. And half way the season it looked that PSG would buy, sorry win, the title with not that much problem. Halfway the season Montpellier was 3 points behind and Lille 4 points behind.
But they were small teams compared to big spenders PSG. Surely they would collapse and falter at some stage.
Yet the boys from Montpellier didn’t falter. They kept on hanging in while Lille did collapse. And by half March they both were very much separated from the rest of the teams.
But around that time things changed and Montpellier took the first place from PSG. Surely it wouldn’t last till the end, was the general opinion.
But Montpellier held on to their lead and PSG, the big money team started having problems and lost a little bit of ground on Montpellier. Montpellier made a gap of 5 points, had to concede a draw and then the gap was only 3 points. But they held on to that lead and finished champions in France for the first time since their foundation in 1919. The person leading the front line was as you will know Olivier Giroud. And it was after that season that Wenger decided to bring him to Arsenal.
Another interesting thing is that Giroud played 36 matches in that successful season for Montpellier. 36 matches out of the 38 matches. And this also shows that Giroud really is a person that can last a whole season.
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And now I hope I don’t jinx it and I am touching all kinds of wood that I can touch and keeping my fingers crossed but it is difficult to type with crossed fingers so I momentarily will uncross them again; but it shows that he is not that easily injured and has a good way of recovering.
A bit amazing for a player who takes so many knocks during matches and one who is never afraid to lead in battling with defenders. And even when he takes a knock and goes down you have the feeling he will come up again and continue to play.
Now people will of course say that Giroud only scores against smaller teams. You may say: how many goals did he score against MU, MC or Chelsea? Well as many as Suarez scored for Liverpool against Manchester City and Chelsea. He didn’t play against MU so couldn’t score but this only to show that one could also use this as a criticism towards Suarez.
To be honest I’d rather have Giroud not scoring against those teams (but leaving that to other players then) and have him scoring and winning matches like he did against Southampton (who could have gone top of the league if they would have beaten us) or against Newcastle. That is already 6 points directly from his contribution that I remember from the top of my head.
If we look at his numbers from last season we see that he then scored 11 goals and had 3 assists to his name in the league. And now after having played 18 matches he has scored 8 goals and has 5 assists to his name. So he already has contributed to 13 goals this season and last season it was 14 in total. All in the league.
So one might expect that he will be going on like this he will again improve his record of last season.
And what is also important is the fact that he has been there before, be it in the French league. Fighting against big money teams. A fight that was deemed to be impossible by all who followed football in France. But Giroud and Montpellier did it.
And by now you can understand why I started comparing this season with the French league 2 seasons ago. Arsenal is fighting for the title. Not just against one big money team as Montpellier had to do but against two teams. Two teams that have been build on money from outside football. While Montpellier has been build from within. Just like Arsenal.
Can we do what Montpellier did and resist the big money teams? In a way this is crucial for football in England one could say. If not, then we might give the title to the team that just throws the most oil money into football. Forget about working within your means. Forget about Financial Fair Play. Just look for a rich preferable oil country to buy your club, throw money at it that makes you wonder if that country has no internal problems and all its inhabitants are living in great prosperity (and with all I mean all – not just the happy few). If so fine for them.
Arsenal not winning the league might kill he hope of any decent run club to win the league any time soon. If you have to bend over to such teams and the visible wrong decisions such money teams seem to be utilising this season one can forget about football for the future. Just give the title to whoever spends most money then.
Of course as an Arsenal supporter I hope that the money doesn’t win. I hope that football, the sport, wins it from football, the money. But I do think that fans of other clubs who are not in the rich-oil-plaything situation should hope the same. Let us show that money doesn’t ruin football completely (as far as this still hasn’t happened already of course).
On paper and going by money spent Arsenal should have no chance whatsoever to win it from Manchester City or Chelsea. Their second team cost even more than Arsenal first teamers cost. But as Montpellier has shown it isn’t always the big money that wins it. None other than Giroud was instrumental in Montpellier winning the title. May he perform that trick again for Arsenal this season. Now wouldn’t that be the ultimate success for the sport that football still should be?