A winner of ten significant honours. Nevertheless, Olivier Giroud hasn’t really earned the respect he has deserved. And the same is true once again.
Now Chelsea have seen their enrollment ban overturned, a new forward seems to be high of Frank Lampard’s shopping list. That means Giroud, 33, will be permitted to leave Stamford Bridge this month. He will not be short of suitors.
He has never been out of need, yet he hasn’t truly been first-choice everywhere since departing Montpellier for Arsenal in 2012.
When trading North London for West throughout the 2018 January transfer window, Giroud did so knowing he wouldn’t be the Blues’ go-to No.9. They had Álvaro Morata but wanted someone with more physical existence than the meek Spaniard.
He also bagged the only goal of the match against Liverpool in May.
Last season he fought to make the striker’s berth his own from the beginning, although Chelsea lacked a totally convincing centre-forward with Morata departing for Atlético, only to be replaced by Gonzalo Higuain in January. He was critical to Maurizio Sarri’s side reaching the Europa League final, netting 11 times in 12 starts to win the contest’s Golden Boot.
In the Premier League, however, it was a different story. Sarri handed the forwards only seven starts, with a further 20 cameos off the seat. Really, 91 of Giroud’s 225 Premier League looks have come as a replacement. In his Arsenal pomp, he had been in and out of the starting XI. Regardless of that, he could point to a totally good yield of 73 goals from 119 begins for the Gunners.
The obvious but idle assumption to make is that as a big man he is good in the air but less powerful with ball in the feet.
That simply isn’t correct.
You do not become the goalscorer Giroud has by relying on balls hoiked on your forehead. While he has never been a 20-goal-a-season man, the Chambéry native hasn’t fought for goals either. With 39 strikes for his country, just behind Thierry Henry (51) and Michel Platini (41), it is worth noting he has scored more times for France than David Trezeguet, Zinedine Zidane, and Antoine Griezmann.
Nevertheless, the testament to his ability is the fact he’s remained integral to Didier Deschamps’ talent-rich France squad regardless of the fact that he lacks the freedom, pace or dynamism of alternative options. He gets the best from those around him and there is his actual worth.
Last year in the Premier League, Giroud rated fourth among strikers who played at least 25 percent of available minutes for aids (0.43 per 90). In addition to that, he posted 1.43 open-play shot assists per 90, placing him 13th one of his striking peers.
Giroud’s help against Cardiff City at Stamford Bridge in 2018 underlined his intellect and footwork perfectly.
He revealed a similar deftness of touch and spatial awareness to install Pedro’s opener against Bournemouth the week ahead, playing a great one-two with the Spaniard to discharge him into space on the edge of the area before shooting home.
Another forward might have appeared to take the shot themselves but Giroud’s act of selflessness put the Blues on their way to a 2-0 victory.
Among Giroud’s great strengths is falling deep to associate with the midfield and while this hasn’t always been perfect at a Chelsea side inducing the runners to dart in behind him in a group with pacey forward who wish to drive in the space he is vacated, it would make him an advantage.
And that’s what Giroud would like to be. Fed up with his bit-part function at Stamford Bridge, a parting of the ways seems inevitable now Chelsea is going to be permitted to sign a replacement. However, Newcastle, Villa and West Ham are cautioned — even though he’s got a World Cup winner’s medal, Giroud will not settle for not competing for honours.
Talking to The Guardian this past year, he summarized his dream, “I would rather be in a big club instead of playing every week at a less prestigious group and I still have goals.
“To win a Premier League is my final dream for a footballer, perhaps more than winning a Champions League because I know how hard it is to win this league. I’ve teammates here who’ve won it, so I am a little jealous. I need to make it happen. I really don’t want to finish with any doubts.”
The only regrets should belong to people who did not utilise him correctly.