Video: Why Olivier Giroud is Arsenal's most vital player
Against Crystal Palace, Olivier Giroud scored his 50th goal for Arsenal, the 48th player to do so for the club. He might be alone among them for the divisiveness he inspires despite joining that pantheon. Since that achievement, he's added two more, each of them vital to the squad securing all three points. He may not be the best striker in the EPL – not by any stretch of the imagination – but he's done pretty well by most accounts.
He's suffered by comparison with the form of his predecessor and struggled to replicate that much-touted second season of 20 league goals, but, by most accounts, he's achieved more than he's aggrieved. If you haven't already, enjoy the run-up to those fifty goals.
No, he's not the goal-scoring diva that Robin van Persie, Diego Costa or Sergio Agüero are for their respective clubs, but one has to admit that, at a certain level, each of them is a bit of a one-trick pony. Without making too much of the matter, most if not all of the strikers who have outscored Giroud to this point in the season do that and little else: score goals.
On its face, we might say, "Of course. That's what strikers do." However, Giroud is asked to play a role that differs from those that other strikers play. He's not the end-product to the same extent as van Persie, Costa, Agüero, or others.
Instead, he's more like a motor-oil that makes all the other parts operate more smoothly. With him in the lineup, those around him, be they a driven Chilean or a diffident, creative German, find more space and time to operate. It may be less direct, but it's been no less effective than a Drogba-esque battering ram, at least to this point.
If you've read to this point without viewing the video, watch and enjoy the final product that the man does deliver. He's neither as shite nor as spectacular as his critics or cronies would have you believe. He's somewhere in the middle. We might be stuck in that middle with him, but that's not altogether bad.
If he facilitates for the likes of Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Özil instead of finishing from them, that's fine with me.