Born in Chambéry, France in 1986, Olivier Giroud started his career at Froges before signing his first professional contract with Grenoble in 2005. He then moved to Tours, and later to Montpellier, where, in the 2011-12 season, he won the Ligue 1 title and was the top goalscorer (“Olivier Giroud Biography” 1). In June of that year, Giroud signed with Arsenal and was given the number 12 shirt, following the departure of Robin van Persie (Hare 1).
With his impressive strength, heading, and hold-up play, Giroud is one of the top examples of the classic center forward. Though he has been criticized in the past for his inconsistency in front of goal, Giroud has improved immensely over the past three years and has become an integral part of the Arsenal team this season (2015-16).
Earlier this season, Arsene Wenger began playing Theo Walcott up front, forcing Giroud to be benched for several games. However, with the entire team underperforming in the Champions League, sitting at the bottom of its group and facing a must-win game against Bayern Munich, Giroud, who was substituted on for Walcott in the second half, scored the opener in an eventual 2-0 win (Kelly 1). Not only did he score, however, he contributed to the team in other ways, most notably with his hold-up play.
An example of Giroud’s hold-up play against Bayern Munich on October 20, 2015.
A month later, Giroud secured Arsenal’s ticket to the knockout stages of the Champions League. In a game against Olympiakos in which Arsenal had to win by at least two goals, he scored a hat trick.
Giroud is currently Arsenal’s top goalscorer this season, having found the back of the net 18 times in all competitions. It is important to note that for much of the early part of the season, he found himself coming off the bench instead of starting. Not only that, he contributes to the team in several other ways. Surrounded by pacey players like Sanchez, Walcott, Campbell, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, he complements their strengths well with his touch, vision, and decision-making (Brus 1). His contribution to Arsenal’s build-up play is evident from the picture below in a January 2016 clash against Liverpool. He had more touches in the game than even Mesut Ozil, Arsenal’s key playmaker (Tweedale 1).
Giroud’s touches against Liverpool on January 13, 2016.
An example of Giroud’s team play in a game against Norwich City in 2013.
On the international front, Giroud has never played for any of the French national youth teams, and in fact, did not receive a call-up to the senior side until 2011. Since then, however, he has scored a respectable 13 goals in 45 appearances, including his first World Cup goal in 2014 against Switzerland (“Olivier Giroud” 1).
While he may not be the most clinical finisher or the most complete player, Giroud fulfills a nonetheless important role for a team that has its eyes set on winning the Premier League title. By linking up play between the rest of the team, Giroud has shown himself to be a vital part of the Arsenal team.
Brus, Mark. “5 Reasons Why Giroud Is the Most Important Player in Arsenal’s Title Bid.” Metro. N.p., 14 Jan. 2016. Web. 18 Feb. 2016. <http://metro.co.uk/2016/01/14/5-reasons-olivier-giroud-is-arsenals-most-important-player-in-the-premier-league-title-race-5622444/>.
Hare, Joe. “Arsenal Signing Olivier Giroud Forces Montpellier to Change Club’s Policy on Buy-out Clauses.” The Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group, 2 July 2012. Web. 18 Feb. 2016. <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/teams/arsenal/9370031/Arsenal-signing-Olivier-Giroud-forces-Montpellier-to-change-clubs-policy-on-buy-out-clauses.html>.
Kelly, Rob. “Arsenal 2-0 Bayern Munich – Match Report.” Arsenal FC News. N.p., 20 Oct. 2015. Web. 18 Feb. 2016. <http://www.arsenal.com/match/report/1516/post/first-team/arsenal-v-bayern-the-story-so-far>.
“Olivier Giroud.” National Football Teams. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Feb. 2016. <http://www.national-football-teams.com/player/45538/Olivier_Giroud.html>.
“Olivier Giroud Biography.” Football Top. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Feb. 2016. <http://www.footballtop.com/players/olivier-giroud>.
Tweedale, Alistair. “Arsenal Already Have a £40million Striker – It’s Olivier Giroud.” The Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group, 14 Jan. 2016. Web. 18 Feb. 2016. <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/teams/arsenal/12099524/Arsenal-already-have-a-40million-striker-its-Olivier-Giroud.html>.