Key man: Why Arsenal’s Olivier Giroud could be key against Hull
With Arsenal on the verge of winning their first trophy for 9 years, the supporters will be hoping for a big performance from their first-choice (and only real choice) Olivier Giroud, who has flattered to deceive far too often this season.
Giroud has scored 16 goals in the Premier League this season to lead the club’s scoring charts. He has played 36 games in the league which is more than any other outfield player – just proving how much work he’s had to do. The Frenchman started the season well and looked fresh, linking up with the likes of Arsenal’s key players Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere, Mesut Ozil and Tomas Rosicky.
He looked good – as did Arsenal. However, around Christmas, with no break at all, Giroud started to look tired and his performances soon dropped.
With injuries to key players that he’d been linking up with for the first half of the season, Giroud’s style of hold-up and link-up play was hindered. He looked isolated and shattered.
Over the Christmas period, Giroud scored one goal in five matches as his form started to dip. However, over the last couple of weeks of the season, he’s looked more lively; it’s like he’s found his second wind. Arsenal finished their league campaign with five straight victories over West Ham, Hull, Newcastle, West Brom and Norwich.
Giroud scored three goals in those games. In fact, the Frenchman scores most – if not all – of his goals against lesser opposition after struggling against the big teams.
Of his 16 goals in the league – just one less than Sergio Aguero and Wayne Rooney – six were scored against sides in the top half of the table. Those teams were Newcastle, Tottenham and Southampton. That means that Giroud scored just one goal against sides in the top seven, and that goal came in the third game of the season.
He scored three against Sunderland and Southampton, two against Newcastle and Aston Villa, and one each against Fulham, West Ham, Swansea City, Crystal Palace and West Bromwich Albion.
He scored a quarter of his goals against the bottom six sides. This is not a criticism of his statistics or goal record, more a not on who he scores more goals against.
Giroud is what you could call a ‘flat-track bully’ given that he scores most of his goals against lesser sides and fails to turn up in the bigger games against the bigger teams. Arsenal will need a big performance from the Frenchman at Wembley but Hull City finished 16th (fifth bottom), and he is yet to score against the Tigers, meaning that chance could come up in the cup final.
He has created 37 chances this season which is the third-most in the squad. He also has eight assists, grabbing his final one in the last game victory at Carrow Road, where he supplied Aaron Ramsey with a brilliant cross to the back post. Only Mesut Ozil (9) assisted more goals for Arsenal this season than Giroud.
With better players around him for the final and Giroud in better scoring form, he could be the key matchwinner at Wembley and deliver the Gunners their first trophy since 2005.