Strength of Olivier Giroud a real positive for Arsenal

Posted by John Cross

It is no longer about finding a replacement for Olivier Giroud. If Arsenal do go shopping in January, it is more likely it will be for back-up or cover.

Giroud has gone from strength to strength this season and, despite defeat to Borussia Dortmund, he was Arsenal's star turn.

The Frenchman is big, strong and seemed to enjoy bullying the German defence in a similar way he gave Norwich's back four a torrid time last Saturday.

As good as Arsenal's goals were against Norwich, Giroud was my choice as man of the match. He held the ball up, provided flick-ons and delivered a classic centre-forward's performance.

Giroud scored against Dortmund after a typical piece of strength and determination. Similarly, the way he glided past Mats Hummels in the first half which resulted in the Dortmund defender clearing off the line was equally impressive.

Arsenal remain interested in another centre-forward. I've written in the Daily Mirror that they are keen on Juventus striker Fernando Llorente and he is interested in a potential loan deal.

But now if that were to happen, I wouldn't mind betting that it would be Giroud as first choice and Llorente as back-up, competition and providing cover if necessary.

After all, Giroud has played 16 games already this season. That's one hell of a schedule. But at some point as Arsenal go on a gruelling trophy hunt, he may need a break or get injured. At the moment, Nicklas Bendtner is the only alternative.

Giroud has come on in leaps and bounds from last season, albeit his statistics were impressive in terms of goals return and assists.

But now he looks the more complete player. He seems quicker, more confident and more mobile. Stronger even.

In pre-season, every day he was reading about Arsenal's pursuit of Luis Suarez. He actually said that he was keen to have the back-up, competition and quality at the club. Others would sulk and go into their shells.

But at the same time, Giroud seemed determined to prove a point. He rose to the challenge, showed Arsenal what he is all about and has taken his game to a new level.

It was a point acknowledged by Arsene Wenger earlier this week. "That was maybe a little bit his luck," said Wenger recalling the near misses in the transfer market.

"Nobody came in, so you know at the start of the season that at least you get the chance to show how good you are. I always thought that his second season would be the decisive one.

"We have seen that many times -- to adapt to the kind of game we play takes time. I was not too worried when we didn't bring anyone in because I thought he had a chance to develop.

"Giroud is amazing because he develops well. If you compare his technical level when he arrived to how it is today, he has highly improved. Now he enjoys combining much more. From a player who was just thinking 'I have to score', he has become a real team player."

As disappointing as the defeat was to Borussia Dortmund, Arsenal can take Giroud as a positive. They can also bounce straight back at Crystal Palace on Saturday. If Giroud does indeed play to his best again then they should win.


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