Goals galore for Giroud in Asia

Posted by Sam Limbert

Realistically, it's difficult to read too much into the 7-0 win over the Indonesian Dream Team and the 7-1 win over Vietnam for Arsenal in their two preseason games thus far. Their main purpose was to get the players back toward match fitness and to promote the Arsenal brand in football-mad Asian countries.

However, confidence can be a fragile thing in football. Whilst it might seem as if Arsenal are only doing what is expected against lesser opposition, it can only be viewed as a good thing for the Gunners to have racked up plenty of goals in two matches. Tougher tests will come later in preseason with the Emirates Cup and Manchester City in Helsinki, but it's still reassuring to see Arsenal come through these matches with confidence building in the squad. Last season, they laboured to indifferent results on the Asia Tour, but that hasn't been the case this time around.

Chris McGrath/Getty ImagesOlivier Giroud has scored five goals in less then 90 minutes of preseason action, including a hat trick in Vietnam.

The main man in the glut of goals has been Olivier Giroud. With so much transfer speculation surrounding strikers Gonzalo Higuain, Luis Suarez and others, Giroud has almost been the forgotten man for Arsenal fans this summer. Whilst his preseason form definitely doesn't mean another front man shouldn't be a priority in the transfer market, it bodes well to see Giroud looking confident in front of goal.

In less than 90 minutes on the pitch in preseason, the Frenchman has hit five goals, including a first-half hat trick against Vietnam. What has struck me about Giroud's play is that his link-up play and holding up of the ball, the aspect of his game that was strongest last season, has generally not been great in Asia so far. However, his finishing has been excellent. None of his goals have been scrappy, simple finishes that you'd immediately expect a striker to score. There has been a good variety with a flicked finish, one on the turn and a thumping effort from outside the box.

With most fans still hoping for, and expecting, a major striker to arrive at the club, Giroud's place as the first-choice central striker should be under threat by the start of the season. Whilst it's not been against top-quality opposition, he's showing he's ready to fight for his place in the team and can be a more reliable option in front of goal than he was at times in his first year at the club.

As mentioned, the main purpose of these matches is fitness, but there have been a few minor points to note from Arsenal's two matches in Asia. Another center back should be a priority with Thomas Vermaelen injured, as whilst Bacary Sagna is an option to play there, he shouldn't be considered a long-term solution.

The youngsters on the tour have acquitted themselves well, with Chuba Akpom scoring three goals, Thomas Eisfeld and Kris Olsson both getting one and Serge Gnabry looking dangerous. However the man, or boy, that most fans are talking about is Gedion Zelalem. At 16, it's impressive that he was even selected to travel with the squad on the tour. In the two appearances he's made, he's slotted into midfield comfortably and seems to be able to pick out a through pass superbly. Fabregas comparisons are inevitable, but fans shouldn't put too much pressure and expectation on him to reach the levels of the former captain. You can't help but be excited, though, to think of the potential Zelalem has. This tour means a lot more people will be tracking his development in the next few years.

It will be good to see Arsenal properly tested later in preseason, but the Asia tour so far has undoubtedly been a success on and off the pitch.


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