Saluting France & Chelsea’s Olivier Giroud

The first time Olivier Giroud really grabbed my attention was during the 2011-12 season.

The striker was the key man in helping Montpellier HSC secure their first and only Ligue 1 title. La Paillade held off high spending PSG that year, with Olivier scoring twenty-one goals and creating nine assists.

During the summer of 2012, MHSC cashed in on their top asset and sold Giroud to Arsenal for a reported fee of £12m (Source BBC Sport).

The strong, physical attacker has been plying his trade in the English Premier League ever since. He spent five and a half seasons with The Gunners before moving to London rivals Chelsea in the winter of 2018.

During that time the French international has been criticised by certain supporters and possibly by some in the media too.

I really can’t understand any of that criticism, for me he has been a joy to watch since those days at Montpellier.

There’s a lot more to being a striker than just scoring goals and some people just can’t seem to understand that.

But let’s start with his goals.

In total, since arriving in England, Giroud has scored 135 goals in 349 appearances. That’s nearly a goal every two and a half games.

At Arsenal only four men have scored more Premier League goals than Giroud managed and they were club legends Thierry Henry, Ian Wright, Robin van Persie and Dennis Bergkamp!

The Frenchman has bagged himself four FA Cups and a Europa League since his arrival in England, and scored in two of those victorious finals.

Only Peter Crouch has scored more headed Premier League goals than Giroud’s effort of twenty-six headers (Source

When it comes to memorable goals, the thirty-four year old has one of those in his locker too.

In 2017, he was awarded the Fifa Puskas Award for his absolutely astonishing Scorpion Kick strike against Crystal Palace. It’s been one of the most iconic goals of the last decade:

Yet as I said earlier, there’s much more to a forward than just goals. That is especially true when it comes to Olivier Giroud.

He has made twenty-eight league assists since arriving on British shores. His hold up play may often go unnoticed but it’s pretty magnificent. The striker’s footballing brain is also top class.

At Arsenal, his partnership with Alexis Sanchez was often sublime. At Chelsea, I honestly think Belgian maestro Eden Hazard was often at his very best when he was linking up with Giroud.

The reason these creative talents shined playing alongside the big hitman was because Olivier was unselfish, almost to the extreme. He would drift out to the flanks or drop deep, that created valuable space in dangerous positions and fellow intelligent forwards would then exploit that space!

Giroud’s deft first touch, his flicks and his ability to head on balls would also directly bring teammates into play. His physicality would also see him holding the ball up in the opposition’s final third and see his teams retain possession when they needed to the most.

Giroud is a player that gives everything for the team and his teammates love him for it. When he misses chances or when the chips are down, the veteran attacker will just dust himself down and go again (always).

If you really want to know about a player I often look at what other players say about him.

Giroud always seems to get glowing compliments:

“Olivier’s a target man, maybe the best in the world; I think so,”

“When he gets the ball he can hold the ball and we can go in deep with him, so for us it’s a pleasure to play with him.”

Eden Hazard via Talksport

“Oli is one of the best making these little runs to the first post to score goals. Aguero another one. Fantastic mentality.”

Cesc Fabregas via Football.London

“For me Oli is one of the best strikers in the Premier League when he’s on it”

Jack Wilshere via The Standard

We should also remember the fact that Giroud was a huge part of France’s successful in the summer of 2018, when Les Bleus won the World Cup.

Again critics will point to his lack of goals in that tournament but he was a focal point up-top that allowed Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann to flourish.

French boss Didier Deschamps was always quick to stress how vital Giroud was for the team that summer:

“He is important for our style, we need his supporting play. It’s good if he scores but Olivier is always very generous and doesn’t complain about working hard.”

“He might not have the flamboyant style but the team needs him even if he doesn’t score.”

Deschamps via RTE

Olivier has been capped 105 times by France and only Thierry Henry has bettered his forty-four goal tally!

Last season, when Chelsea really needed to keep their heads and secure a top four place in the Premier League it wasn’t by coincidence that Frank Lampard started to rely on a previously rarely used Giroud. That’s because the marksman had the experience to get more from Lampard’s young side as they managed to qualify for this term’s Champions League.

Oli has again been used sparingly by Lampard at the start of this campaign. I understand why. Timo Werner has started brightly and came in for big money, while Tammy Abraham is the Blues future and he has his place on merit.

For Giroud, that has seen him looking at his options as the January transfer window approaches. The veteran will be desperate to keep his place in the French national team as they look to add a European Championship to their World Cup victory. Olivier has been heavily linked with a move to Inter Milan, where he’d link up once again with former boss Antonio Conte (Source Daily Mail).

It might be the prefect time for Olivier Giroud to say Au Revoir to the Premier League, but if that does happen I really hope the majority of football fans look back at his spell in England with affection and really appreciate just what he brought to the clubs he played for.

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