There have been many partnerships where a difference in height has been at the fulcrum of their success.
Barker and Corbett. Owen and Heskey. Smith and Wright.
The aerial dominance of one is pure manna for the more diminutive other, who uses their pace and killer instinct to buzz around for sustenance.
With this in mind, could a partner up front be just what is needed for Giroud?
The season just passed was one of contrasts for Olivier Giroud. Bursts of goals in the first half of the campaign saw him threaten the top of the goalscoring charts and reinforce fans belief that he is far better than most give him credit for.
The second half of the season saw him suffer a drought of Danny Graham-esque proportions, and highlighted the weaknesses in his game.
By the end of the season, Giroud was consigned to the exit door, along with a host of other squad players.
The call-up to the French squad was a much-needed respite for the coiffured striker, and even though French fans also vocally doubted him, his answers were made on the pitch, with goals in Le Tricolore’s friendly wins over Cameroon and Scotland.
Didier Deschamp displayed confidence in Giroud, and thus far in Euro2016, Giroud has undoubtedly been first choice in the sole striker spot in France’s team. Olivier scored Les Blues’ first goal in the tournament, and throw in a virtuoso display in France’s 5-2 thumping of brave Iceland – which culminated in the Man of the Match award, this shows Deschamp’s faith in our maligned striker has been justified.
The first knockout stage told us Gooners much about the untapped potential of Giroud though. For his club, Giroud ploughs a lonely furrow, on the cusp of the eighteen yard box with his back to goal. The ball is played into him, and either an elaborate flick, or holding the ball up under pressure is his duty. This occasionally differs, and he has been known to play on the shoulder of the last opposing defender, but he is utilised just as often as the link-up man as he is the finisher.
For France though, the formation may not be too different, with two wide forwards supplementing him, but the personnel used is far removed from at The Emirates.
Whereas he normally has Alexis on the left – who loves to cut inside or chase the ball when not in possession, and either Theo or Ramsey on the right – for France, his partners in crime are Payet and Griezmann.
Griezmann in particular, has shown that a slight change in positioning can work wonders for a player much maligned and deemed not good enough.
Griezmann doesn’t hug the touchline. He doesn’t often pick up possession anywhere near the flank. He knows his strength is playing on the last shoulder, and if he should receive the ball, then the unfortunate defender more often than not has no answer to his pace.
Giroud has been the perfect player to link the midfield to the runs of Griezmann. He has been the much-searched for Lego brick which completes a structure. The Last 16 victory over Republic of Ireland was testament to this. Both goals came from Griezmann, but he profited from flick-ons from none other than our bearded stud. The Irish adopted a physical approach, and Griezmann alone would have made zero impact on the game.
Using Giroud as the target man though, broke Irish hearts, after such a resolute performance. Both players compliment each other perfectly, and the fact they are both intelligent in their spacial awareness and positioning is just another vital component in their chemistry.
Playing with a partner could unharness the last ten percent Giroud needs to establish himself fully amongst doubtful fans. At Arsenal, this may be a world away, as Wenger is known to favour the sole striker, but after watching the French duo wreaking so much havoc, who knows if Arsene will change his tack?
Alternatively, if our club are indeed in the market for an attacker – a wide forward such as Griezmann could be just the ticket. Who could fit this bill as succinctly as Griezmann? Well, Draxler and Gotze could be just as adept.
Our club will not be in the market to find a player who uncorks the last drop of talent that Olivier Giroud has. It will be to enable Arsenal to make those last few steps to winning the title.
He can be our coffee pot, offering us a boost when we need it most, but only if we play to his strengths – and our team cannot be built around Olivier Giroud.
Watching Giroud in action during Euro2016 does show however, that the man could still have a massive role at the club. He may not be our first choice striker next season after failing to make the difference last term, but having him in the ranks and knowing he can create as much damage as he has for France in their setup, may just be a timely reminder to all that he can still be a huge asset.
It’s an interesting article but surely it would require a complete deviation from Wenger’s go-to tactics?
I’d love to see it but doubt we will ever see an orthodox 4-4-2. I don’t think we have the players for it, to be honest.
I suppose narrow 4-2-2-2 might work, with maybe Theo, Alexis or some other as yet unpurchased individual, through the middle with Giroud.
Personally I would like to see Özil and Sanchez occupy the supporting roles with Theo/Other supporting Giroud. Ramsey and Xhaka in the deeper lying midfield roles.
Whatever the decision, the Euros have shown the if you want to get the most out of Giroud, you have to give him support.
We have seen many times, not just in this tournament, his deft touches, flicks, knock-ons lead to goals. Either directly or a few passes further on.
He is a good old-fashioned English centre forward. He needs support and crosses into the box in order to squeeze every morsel of effect from his efficient, if limited skill set.
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I infer the very same thing regarding Wenger having to change tack to maximise Giroud. Good points, well made.
I really want Giroud to have the chance to excel. He works hard enough to deserve it. If he averages almost a 1:2 goals to game ratio in a system that doesn’t play to his strengths, what could he do in one that does…
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