Arsenal 1-0 Southampton – Olivier Giroud: The man for some occasions


Alexis Sanchez might have been the match-winner, but Arsenal undoubtedly owe a debt of gratitude to Olivier Giroud for this vital win over Southampton.

Giroud’s contribution has sparked the butterfly effect of opinion, evolving swiftly from the initial and innocent musing as to why he didn’t start in to the bellowing demand that he play every game from now until May.

It’s not as simple as that. This performance doesn’t prove that Giroud is the answer to our striking situation, just as Danny Welbeck’s match-winning display at West Brom didn’t see him crowned as our de facto centre-forward.

As the pattern of this game developed, it became clear we needed Giroud. That’s something difficult to anticipate: had Arsenal scored early on, we might have shifted in to a counter-attacking strategy in which the pace of Welbeck, Alexis and Oxlade-Chamberlain would have been more useful.

As it was, we needed someone who could help us lay siege to the Southampton goal and provide a focal point for our crossing game. Giroud did that and more. Although Alexis Sanchez will rightfully grab headlines for another priceless goal, the game really swung on Giroud’s arrival and the exit through injury of Toby Alderweireld.

Giroud is unique among Arsenal’s forwards. His aerial presence and hold-up play are superb, but there’s one quality that really makes him stand out: his vision. His physique gives him the platform to receive the ball with his back to goal, but it’s his brain that allows him to be so effective with it. The deft flicks and neat touches don’t only show a player of considerable technique — they show a player with of creativity and imagination. Southampton couldn’t handle him.

However, it won’t always be thus. There will be times when Giroud starts and has to be withdrawn for the speed and movement of Danny Welbeck. Presumably we’ll then go through an inverted version of the same discourse, with people anointing Welbeck as the solution and casting Giroud aside.

Instead, Arsenal fans should simply be grateful for the variety they now have in their attack. Neither Giroud nor Welbeck are of real world class. However, between them they have the requisite attributes to beat most defences we’ll encounter. Crucially, they’re supplemented by Alexis Sanchez: a Swiss army-knife of a player who seems able to adapt to any opposition.

Based on the evidence of the last two seasons, we already know that Giroud is not the man for every occasion. However, as he proved this evening, he is undoubtedly the man for some.

Gunnerblog is the brainchild of childbrained football writer James McNicholas. Aside from Gunnerblog, James currently contributes to Bleacher Report, The Mirror and ESPN.


  1. ianmacharia   •  

    I agree,many Arsenal fans do not appreciate Giroud for the player he is. For me, i see him as a focal point to every perfect Arsenal attacking move. His ability to not only handle the ball but also distribute it effectively is commendable. Last season for example, Giroud made a neat touch to Wilshare to create what was arguably the goal of the season.

  2. Since66   •  

    Brilliant post Gunnerblog.

    The summary of needs/must in relation to what it takes to win from one situation to another is spot on. It makes a mockery of those u refer to for anointing this player today followed by another tomorrow.

    Even more so it hammers those who booed, presumably at our great manager when this week’s “flavourite” AOC was subbed.

    Our proven manager will see all of them all off again is my prediction.

    • adi   •  

      I fully agree. on the substitution of AOC the crowd booed, but on most blogs they say Giroud changed the game. thr coach was pressured by the crowd to bring on Giroud. The commentators also said the coach does not know what his doing in subbing our best player AOC.

  3. gareth   •  

    We all heard the crowd boo when AOC came of but it was the same crowd that was also singing Giroud’s name moments before he came on. Now I’m a massive AOC fan and think he’s having a qaulity season but last night wasn’t his night and the right sub was made it the end.

  4. Marcus   •  

    I think that the boos for taking AOC off were because people would’ve liked Santi taken off instead, as he had been wasting a handful of opportunities.

  5. Evan   •  

    Giroud looks sharp. Granted he had the benefit of coming on as a sub against leggy opposition, but I also think he’s just raring from his injury layoff. 2012 he started so many games, and it really took its toll. Rotation and/or the occasional sub role will keep him from getting too Jaded. Welbeck and Sanogo to enable!

  6. Wright   •  

    Absolutely. Giroud is the kind of player we need when facing a more packed and defensive side. His hold-up and one-touch play is brilliant and he is a more notable presence compared to welbeck, sanogo or even sanchez. He acts well as a target man in the box and is excellent at creating chances for others. Nevertheless, his speed lowers the effectiveness of our counter-attack when facing a stronger side, maybe explaining his low goal record against the top 7. It is great to have more attacking options to deal with different occasions though.

    It also seems to me that giroud performs better when he was a substitute. Perhaps because opponents are getting tired and couldn’t deal with the physicality of giroud. Oh, and his shooting seems to improve a lot this season. He is more willing to take long shots now and his attempts are always pretty threatening.

    I just wish he maintains his great form and leads arsenal to the champions league spots once again.

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