Whilst being a home crowd favourite in his first season with his own Beatle themed fan chant from day one Olivier has failed to convince many that he was the replacement for our departed skipper. It might appear with the record bid for Suarez that the management agree but is it that simple?
Has Giroud done enough to convince Wenger that he is indeed the answer but needs a partner in a change of formation? (Don’t worry it is not a 442 blog – as if!) He has certainly impressed in pre-season and looks leaner sharper and if I dare suggest more confident in the shirt. Whilst I am sure quality can fit in with good players without a pre-season, it obviously cannot hurt and Olivier post Euro’s did not have that last season.
The main criticisms have been directed at his finishing and his pace. Well pace you cannot develop so much but Bergkamp was no speedster. (No not comparing him to DB10.) It is speed of mind as often as not in the penalty area and his 2 natural finishes, albeit one disallowed versus City at the weekend were top draw.
So it comes down to whether he can improve his conversion rate and I believe he can. I have supported him from before we even signed him, having suggested we should, so I am unlikely to change now, but is it realistic? It may surprise many to know his conversion rate in the Premiership is only marginally lower than that of the main target Suarez as this well researched blog by @lewbob91 reveals.
10% chance to goal ratio is not good enough in the PL but is the 12% offered by Suarez worth £50 million? It is also worth noting that Podolski at 20% and Theo at 17% are far more clinical. In short if Luiz Suarez has had 187 attempts on goal he bloody well should have 23 goals.
So is it about the collective goals? I have noted previously that Arsenal last term were only the second team since the turn of the century to have 4 players in double figures in the league. Now given that Theo has his injury issues and the other 3 were all in their first season in England, would it be reasonable to assume that some if not all 4 will improve? For arguments sake let’s consider the impact of all 4 improving just marginally on their 2012/13 tallies.
Would this be impossible?
|Player||2012/13 PL Goals||2013/14 PL Goals?|
The way Walcott is finishing, if he stays fit I feel 17 is realistic. Podolski I think so far has not demonstrated he can play the lone striker role and may struggle for game time if Cazorla stays out left. He is however our most lethal finisher and now fully fit so could improve even from the bench. Santi can grow his influence and reach Fabregas/Pires strike levels from either CAM or LW. Lastly there is absolutely no doubt at all in my mind that Giroud will improve the most is he stays in our attack.
So what would a further 13 goals have meant for an Arsenal? A team with the 2nd best defensive record, despite not sorting it until February and a team that outscored all barring the champions from memory. Well last season it probably would have got us 5/6 extra points and seen us runners up.
None of this positivity and speculation by the way is me saying we should not invest the war chest, but equally I am not as down on the present collective of players as some. Many correctly say we were not good enough against our rivals and this is true and we were not good enough over the season. These are the facts but what is also a fact is the Wenger singularly failed to make the decision about the central defensive partnership until it was too late. It is that fact that saw us go the last 10 games undefeated. Yes we may not have played many of the big boys on the run in but WBA and Swansea lost few matches at home and previous Arsenal sides would have certainly have rolled over when United came back so strongly.
So let’s get back to Olivier Giroud. If I am correct and the new lean mean OG can hit 16 or so in the league it is likely he will score 20 plus in all competitions. That makes him the 20 goal season striker you are all screaming for. Oh no that was Jovetic, the mighty Montenegrin, wanted by so many and signed by City, who has scored 35 league goals in 4 seasons! Of course Jovetic is the complete striker and brings so much more than goal you say? That would be the miserable 17 assists in all competitions in 4 seasons at Fiorentina against Giroud’s 13 in his first season for the Gunners. I have laboured enough on that one I think but you take my point.
Further weight to the ‘Giroud will do’ or at least will improve argument might be to look back at his career. Stepping up from Ligue 2 in France his first season with Montpelier saw him score 12 in 33 league appearances. In his second season however, a vastly different story as his 21 goals in 36 fired his team to the French title. So supportive evidence for a marked second season improvement once accustomed to the new level. The move to the Premiership was another step up and his record in his first season was acceptable if not spectacular. If history repeats itself we are in for a significant increased contribution from the popular Frenchman.
I have endeavoured to explode the 20/30 goals a season striker myth in many blogs with some success, although many I know remain unconvinced. Would it then surprise you to know that in 3 of the last 6 seasons in the Premier League 20 goals would have gained the player the Golden Boot? There will occasionally be a special player who will hit well over 20 but Henry’s, Ronaldos, Drogbas and van Persie’s are not everyday players. Titles are as likely to be won with 3 or 4 players scoring 12 to 16 goals as Chelsea demonstrated emphatically in 2010.
The great Arsenal side of 2001/2, for me the best ever, had 3 players in Premiership double figures in Henry, Wiltord and Ljungberg with Pires and Bergkamp on 9. In all competitions all 5 hit well into double figures. I believe we have 4 capable of doing so in 2013/14, but who will be the 5th. If that player arrives we may truly reach the heights but this observer believe Olivier Giroud will be intregral to the campaign whoever arrives.
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