Published on Goonersphere.
Olivier Giroud has been at the club for nearly six years. In that time, the striker has bagged 101 goals (at the time of writing) in 163 starts.
This type of return from a striker is enough to usually warrant a permanent place in the hearts of all fans and a gold-etched place in the annals of the club’s history.
For Olivier Giroud though, earning the adoration of Gooners has been a laborious process at times. In the first few seasons of his Arsenal career, his frustrated gesticulations, penchant for writhing on the floor and his failure to notch 20 goals in a Premier League campaign were stains upon his name.
There were many, including experts from every media source, that believed Giroud was a notch below what Arsenal needed. He was effective at times, but he could never scale the heights necessary to sit amongst the best in the business.
It is said that you find the essence of someone in times of adversity, and this rings true of the bearded Gaul.
As his assured first team spot started to be put in the shadow of doubt, Giroud had two choices.
Would he go to a club that truly appreciated him? One that would guarantee him the two things he wanted – games and the love from the fans?
Or would he stick to his guns and show everyone what he was capable of? Would he show how much he loved the club?
Many attempt to display their affections in faux showings of badge-kissing and costumed words. Giroud took the Rosicky route – staying and fighting for the badge.
The opinion on Olivier – and for other players too – started to sway when his actions made a difference. His cameos from the bench would often bring a goal, sometimes it was the winner. If it wasn’t a goal, his minutes on the pitch almost always changed the path of a match. The sight of Giroud coming on started to resemble hope in the face of difficult odds.
Giroud’s tendency to score goals that could be put on canvas and sold as art has helped a lot in the barometer of opinion. His side-scissor volley in 2015, his long range netbuster against City and of course his Puskas-winning scorpion kick. If a player like Neymar or even someone looked upon more favourably like Alvaro Morata had scored any of these, then they would be lauded.
Finally though, Giroud got the credit he deserved, and on the biggest of stages. His Puskas award was utterly deserved, as is the respect from fans he now enjoys.
His link-up play in and around the box. His defensive efforts on set-pieces. These strengths are common knowledge but further evidence of his standing.
His hat-trick against Olympiacos, a goal and assist in a draw against Manchester City, a late equaliser against United. Don’t dare try to say he isn’t a big game player. Giroud has also had the minerals to cut out the weaknesses that critics used to beat him with.
His strength came to the fore, his histrionics on the deck are now history. He now takes his frustrations out on opponents.
What has perhaps sealed his name in Arsenal folklore though, is that he declared he was staying even though it was clear he wasn’t first choice. The majority of spoiled players these days simply up sticks and go elsewhere, but Giroud didn’t. He came out and reaffirmed his loyalties. He said he wanted to stay.
His contract ends in 2019. If he decides to leave then, he can rest assured his legacy is set in stone. He may not be a Wright, an Henry or a Smudge, but Giroud will be remembered fondly, and the majority of us Gooners can see his worth quite clearly now.
We are lucky to have him.