Arsene Wenger’s resurgent Arsenal have endured ten years without a Premier League title but currently find themselves top of the league – this is in no small part down to leading striker Olivier Giroud.
The most obvious turning point for Arsenal was the signing of Mesul Ozil from Real Madrid. Despite the depth of attacking midfielders at the north London club’s disposal, the £42million transfer has been a revelation for a squad struggling to reach their potential.
The assist king has been integral to the whole squad, but particularly for the formerly misfiring striker Giroud. Last term the Frenchman managed only 11 goals in the league – 17 in 47 games in all competitions – having been in and out of the first team. For a team battling to win the league, the leading striker must take on more of the burden and at the very least aim to net 20 times. His 11 therefore was a meagre return for the former Montpellier man.
Having overhauled giants PSG and Lyon, shock outfit Montpellier won the Ligue 1 title in the 2011/2012 season with Giroud ending the campaign as the league’s top goalscorer. His success attracted the attention of compatriot Wenger and he was signed in the following summer for a fee of around £13million.
The Emirates side have endured a tough decade having dominated English football during ‘The Invincibles’ era but only just managed to scrape into the top four on the final day of last season at the expense of bitter rivals Tottenham Hotspur. Arsenal’s poor run of form in recent years has led to speculation they would ditch their long-serving manager in a bid to freshen things up.
However, that seems increasingly unlikely as Arsenal are enjoying their best start to a season in a long time. Not only is new-boy Ozil in top form, but his arrival seems to have spurred on each and every member of the squad, including Giroud who has already netted eight goals in 17 fixtures in all competitions this season.
He has carried his form on to the international scene with two goals in five games for France this season; although his heroics may not be enough to save Les Bleus from World Cup elimination as they trail 2-0 to Ukraine after the first leg of their play-off match.
Giroud’s rise to prominence after an indifferent first season is very similar to that of Didier Drogba at Chelsea. After a tough opening at Stamford Bridge Drogba surged into the limelight with 33 goals in the 2006/07 campaign, and Giroud seems ready to compete with that.
If Giroud’s career at Arsenal can mirror that of Drogba’s at Chelsea then fans can look forward to a long and prosperous spell of success. In 226 league appearances for Chelsea, the Ivorian managed 100 goals. Overall he found the net 157 times in 341 matches.
Chelsea managed to win the Premier League three times whilst Drogba was at the club, including back-to-back titles between 2004 and 2006.
With Arsenal enjoying their best period in years despite having a number of key players on the sidelines, including Theo Walcott, Wenger will hope that Giroud can keep up his hot start to the season in a bid to recapture the glory days of Thierry Henry, Freddie Ljungberg and Robert Pires.
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