Arsenal Fans Under-Rate Giroud At Their Peril

By Albin Mouton

As conjecture that he might depart grows, a French view on our number 12

Since Olivier Giroud signed for Arsenal from Montpellier in 2012 as a French Ligue 1 winner and Golden Boot holder with 21 goals, he has made his mark in North London. Today, the Frenchman is at the centre of many rumors regarding a move to West Ham, Monaco and now Lyon. In a recent conversation with Jean-Michel Aulas, Lyonís president, Olivier Giroud said he still hoped to be Arsenalís number one striker next season.

Not used as heavily as he was in previous seasons by ArsŤne Wenger, the Frenchman managed to score 16 goals in 40 appearances in all competitions, including six coming off the bench, more than anyone else in the Premier League.

But with the prospect of him leaving Arsenal, the debate surrounding him is as divided as it always is with Olivier Giroud. Some people want him to leave, others want to keep him. With Giroud, itís always 50/50. You either love him or hate him. It has always been like that, wherever he played.

Mostly, itís due to two reasons: his playing style and his character on and off the pitch. Letís start with his playing style. His unique role as a striker is something that you donít see often anymore. Only a few of his type remain, and even less play for top clubs in Europe. Nowadays, strikers need to be fast, technical, be able to create chances by moving into the space and make runs behind the defenders. Obviously, Giroud is none of that. Heís the kind of striker we used to witness a decade ago, a playing style perfectly suitable for English football. His specific profile is what makes him so controversial in the first place. Because he is not someone very spectacular, people will always prefer other strikers. Also, heís not one to score more than 20 goals in a season very often. He did once with Montpellier but never with Arsenal in the Premier League. And as Thierry Henry said, you canít win a title with him. Well, in a very competitive Premier League, you can win the league with Giroud if he is not the main source of goals. Wenger just needs to use him as a supersub like he did this season. More than his playing style, his tendency to often miss big chances in important games has frustrated Arsenal fans again and again over the years.

But then why is he starting for the French National team?

Once again, his relationship with the French public is complicated. Oliver Giroud is the perfect man to blame when things go wrong or when the team is not playing well. And the French people love to hate him and to bully him. Another reason for that is his behavior on and off the pitch. Because he spends so much time on looking perfect with his hair and beard, people always say he needs to focus more on the game than the superficial. French fans love to hate him and heís not allowed to make mistakes. Thatís something they are waiting relentlessly for to have an excuse for demanding his exclusion from the national team.

In France, the debate surrounding him is more 70% want him to be a substitute and 30% respect Didier Deschampsís choice of trusting him as the number one striker. Not a very popular decision but one that pays off. Olivier Giroud constantly reminds critics why heís starting by scoring again and again.

Thereís an origin to all the hate. In June 2015, Mathieu Valbuena pressed charges for an attempted blackmail involving a sex tape with his wife. Around October 2015, it was reported that a close friend of Karim Benzema was supposedly involved in the blackmail. On 4th of November, Benzema is held in custody by the French police. The next day, Benzema is charged for complicity and the attempt to blackmail someone. Heís placed under police control and not allowed to speak to Valbuena or any other suspects involved. On the 13th of November, Benzema confesses his role of intermediary between one of his closest friends, the presumed blackmailer, and Mathieu Valbuena. Since then, Karim Benzema has remained out of the French team. At first, it was until the Real Madrid striker could be called up again judicially speaking (given his not allowing to talk with certain individuals). But on the 18th of February 2016, charges against him were dropped and everything could return to the way it was. In April, Didier Deschamps and the French Federation make the decision of leaving him out of the national team for the Euros. Considered as one of the best strikers in the world, this decision causes a lot of consternation in France.

So, whatís the connection with Giroud?

In the meantime, Giroud is struggling to score any goals and with the Euros approaching, people want Benzema to lead France upfront. But what happened with this case has gone far beyond football and became a national society topic. Why? Simply because Benzema and Giroud are different. Giroud is white, tall, good-looking and his performances at the time were questionable. Benzema has Algerian origins, is seen as the bad guy but plays for one of the best teams in the world: Real Madrid. The story became a debate about racism. And because it happened in 2015, the year France suffered from several terrorist attacks, letís just say the climate was tense on that point. Benzema even accused Didier Deschamps of not calling him up for the national team because of that. In an interview for Marca in June 2016, the Real Madrid striker said that Deschamps let his decision be dictated by a racist French part of the population. Frustrated by his non-selection for the Euros, Benzema deliberately sabotaged the French manager by saying what was complete nonsense in public.

Because of all of this, Giroud paid the price of being hated by a lot of people for no reason. Based on some nonsensical racial accusations, the Arsenal striker had to deal with a great deal of weight on his shoulders, right before the Euros. When you add that hate to the people that already didnít like him for his playing style, itís a lot to process. But as the grand champion that he is, thatís the moment he chose to start scoring again for the French team. Since then, France lost in an unfortunate final they should have won against Portugal and Giroud just kept scoring. Against Paraguay in June, Giroud scored a hat-trick. The next day, Benzema won his third Champions League with Real Madrid. So, Giroudís triumph was put in the shadow by Benzema. For no reason, the abuse never stops when it comes to Giroud.

On social media, Olivier Giroud is always in the centre of the most intense debates. If you try to defend him on Twitter for example, you will get the same abuse as he gets and it can be quite violent. People never acknowledge his performance or his talent. If he scores, it will always be because the opponent is weak, because itís a tap-in or because his partner gave him the perfect assist. Whatever happens, he will not get the credit for his goal. Also, he is never defended by the French press. Because the majority of people donít like him, itís easier to go their way and make jokes about him than try to support someone that has never said or done anything to deserve the amount of abuse he gets. And you have to admire him for that. Even when the abuse and the criticism were at their peak, he never said or did anything to give in to these provocations. He never complained publicly and has always answered on the pitch.

In his last 17 games for the national team, he scored 16 goals. A tremendous streak that makes him 8th in the list of highest goalscorers for France. With his last goal against Sweden (at 1í51), he managed to draw level with Benzema. But with 64 selections, against 81 for Benzema, Giroud has almost ended the debate. Olivier Giroud became essential when France needed him the most and when he was under so much pressure. But even in the light of these statistics, people still compare him to Benzema.

For that, French fans start to recognize him as they should. During the last game against England, the public started to sing Giroudís famous Arsenal chant ĎNA NA NA NAAAA GIROUUUUUDí. That was the first time ever. In a recent survey in France lead by LíEquipe, people had to choose the 23 players they wanted to go in Russia for the 2018 World Cup. Out of 300,000 answers, Benzema didnít make the squad, only selected by 35% of the people. On the other hand, Giroud was chosen by 65% of the voters. A change in the French opinion he had to earn the hard way. And still, once he stops scoring, people will quickly forget what he has done for the country and starts criticizing him again.

25th June 2017 13:50:11


Comments and Reaction

User comments on this article are now closed. If you want to continue the debate, why not do so on the Gooner Forum.

John F  16:43pm 25th Jun 2017

Giroud is at best an above average striker,a good sqaud player.I would think if the West Ham link was true then this would be an ideal team for him to play for as they would probably play to his strength by playing more high balls in to the box.One thing that has always annoyed me about him is his lack of concentration when he loses the ball.Many times I have seen him look up to the sky with his hands out or berating his teammates while the ball is still in play near him.A more disciplinarian manager may get more out of him. - Post No. 108216

Exeter Ex  18:54pm 25th Jun 2017

What would the 'peril' be in Giroud leaving exactly? AFC finish out of the top 4? What indeed is the 'peril' in even Sanchez leaving? It makes no difference at all who the personnel are under Wenger. - Post No. 108218

CORNISH GOONER  20:24pm 25th Jun 2017

"Only a few of his type remain" - thank goodness, one should add! A perfect Wenger man of course - after all why rush back to restart a game, which we should have lost & somehow come within seconds of winning, when you can waste a minute doing a corner flag pose for the old scrap album? Remind me - why does Alexis want to leave? - Post No. 108219

Wardy  20:35pm 25th Jun 2017

seriously .... it doesn't matter who goes out or who comes in (haha), nothing will change until Kroenke has gone, winning is irrelevant compared to share prices and profit and if selling Giroud makes financial sense then he'll be off .... personally i think he was a good plan B, despite the fact we never played to his strengths - Post No. 108220

GoonerRon  21:40pm 25th Jun 2017

I hope we keep him. He isn't perfect by any stretch (insisting on watching the defender when vying for a header drives me nuts, just watch the ball FFS). We need an uber-quality first choice but there aren't many better back ups than Giroud. His strike rate is much better than one goal every two starts and one goal every three games overall. Stats not to be sniffed at. - Post No. 108221

mbg  23:27pm 25th Jun 2017

The only mark the carthorse has made in North London is with the ladies, and of course in the night clubs with his well groomed beard and nice boy hair do. wenger out. - Post No. 108222

mbg  23:54pm 25th Jun 2017

Exeter, CORNISH, good posts, they still just don't get it even after all this time. - Post No. 108223

nut flush gooner  1:56am 26th Jun 2017

I don't care for Girouds France form. For Arsenal he has been average. How many games did he go without a goal last season when we let Leicester pull away after beating them at home? - Post No. 108224

peter wain  8:24am 26th Jun 2017

how's about we actually buy some one? so far all talk and no action so Gazidis catlyst for change tell wenger to extract his digit and get amove and BUY some one. - Post No. 108225

GoonerRon  10:09am 26th Jun 2017

@ mbg - of course that's the only mark he's left. I hope you're not trying to airbrush his 98 goals in 159 starts from history... - Post No. 108228

DJW  12:40pm 26th Jun 2017

In his first game for Arsenal vs Sunderland he was put clean through by Carzola in the last minute with the score and nil nil and blazed woefully wide. That sums up his Arsenal career, alright scoring the third and fourth in a canter but can never be relied on to score when it really matters. The beard is lovely though............. - Post No. 108229

Alsace  13:53pm 26th Jun 2017

We are now in a position where we must embrace every screw up he makes, every lost point and every piece of los revenue. Stan clearly thinks it a matter of honour that Wenger stays as long as he wishes. Presumably were the wizened genius to leave this mortal coil, Stan would have him cremated and present in the ashtray at all board meetings, if not actually still in charge of the team. If you think about it, this would make no difference to what he already brings to the team i.e. nothing. Only Wenger's own resignation or death can end our torture, but at least we can now enjoy pouring scorn and hatred upon the manager for every move he makes. It is also time to up the ante and for the first time enter the realm of unfair criticism. You know the sort of thing. "Dear Prime Minister, my hamster has a poorly tummy and according to Jezzemy Corbyn, you are at fault, yours a 16 years old". Wenger's continued employment is so irrational and so unwarranted we are now into a new surreal ball game. And we have to fight verbally dirty. - Post No. 108230

Yes its Ron  13:58pm 26th Jun 2017

The Fr used to scapegoat Eric Cantona back in his day, so its never a surprise who they pick on. Girouds a good player, not brilliant, not explosive either but he adds his weight to the squad and makes something happen quite often. - Post No. 108231

Bard  15:20pm 26th Jun 2017

Albin is this an example of how far we have fallen that we are worried that we might upset or lose a second rate striker. He's an ok back up but thats it. We probably need to keep him because we wont be getting anyone better. Our rather well publicised pursuit of other top quality strikers is just PR bull. Expect a PR sermon from the great one around August saying its immoral how much they cost and how greedy other clubs are for wanting him to pay so much money. Followed by how much improved Wally and Danny are. - Post No. 108232

Yes its Ron  15:46pm 26th Jun 2017

Hi Bard - have to agree that the noises about signing Lacazette whiff a bit of a future, ' we tried hard to sign him'. Are AFC going through the motions knowing that he wants to go to AM really and that he ll stay at Lyon until he can? Sounds like it to me. Mbappe - no chance. Only RM have a chance to sign him surely. - Post No. 108233

mbg  16:01pm 26th Jun 2017

And of course right on up pops TOF's choir boy right on queue defending his protťgť, (all very nice and impressive if said quick) no doubt will be devastated if the news been reported this morning is true. wenger out. - Post No. 108234

mbg  23:31pm 26th Jun 2017

Who's this top top qualittee player we're close to signing, apparently TOF has had his eye on him for years, now where have we heard that before, LOL, sure to get the AKB wengerites moist, again, you couldn't make it up. wenger out. - Post No. 108236

The Man From UNCLE  8:35am 27th Jun 2017

He should stay, if only as a third striker to bring on when chasing a game. Or to play as a main striker against one of the lesser sides, like Tottenham. - Post No. 108237

Arseneknewbest  8:40am 27th Jun 2017

MBG - It's Ade Akinfenwa...Wengo's adding some heft to his forward line in a desperate bid to lose that lightweight tag. And rotund AA can also be counted on to "consume" all the left over pizza crusts on gameday thus saving the need for a cleaner. Stop press: Uefa have just announced our group for the ropey cup. We're up against Greek minnows FC Xenophobiakos, Austrian Johnstone's paint trophy winners Rapid Guuuschtep, and Stan-K's very own Bulgarian team (who are 4th placed in their league...) Locomotive Syrupov. All this transfer rumourage about Arsenal players leaving is fantastic news - never thought I'd feel that way after, RVP, Fab, TH, PV etc. etc. Dr Wengo's cured me of being an Arsenal fan! - Post No. 108238

TonyEvans  13:53pm 27th Jun 2017

I think 'at their peril' is a bit ott, but Giroud is a better player than many give him credit for in my opinion. OK so he's not spectacularly mobile or fast, but makes up for that with his general link-up play and aerial ability. Biggest criticism for me is he is not clinical enough and just doesn't carry enough of a goal threat. Don't often agree with Henry's punditry but he's right, Giroud will not win you the title. Good squad player though and I would keep him if at all possible as a back up to that top top quality striker Wenger is going to be buying! - Post No. 108240

peter wain  15:50pm 27th Jun 2017

as we seem incapable of attracting any half decent players I do not see how we can let him go but with Wenger you just do not know - Post No. 108242

mbg  23:50pm 29th Jun 2017

ArseeKneBest, nice one, yes that's the moist sorry most exciting thing at the moment which and how many of the nice boy pussie second raters are pissing off, but just the same as the signing spin fest I wouldn't believe it either, would it surprise anyone if we stared with same ? with the immortal words from TOF, we're good to go. - Post No. 108284

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