By Tony Attwood
Last season there were some wild ravings suggesting that Olivier Giroud was not good enough for Arsenal.
I replied once or twice with an analysis that showed Giroud’s goal output during his first two seasons at Arsenal was not too dissimilar from that of Thierry Henry and that, if Henry had got the same treatment, then he would have left and we would not have had The Invincibles.
The claims continued, however, and those few of us interested in facts rather than opinion awaited the start of the new season, only for the France striker to get injured against Everton.
But seeing how he took his goal on Saturday made me return to this point in my thinking. Giroud scored and scored last season, without that much backup, while still completing the inevitable two-year adjustment to life in the UK.
"For a while Arsenal’s forward line and shot, shot and shot again, without any reward. Giroud needed just a moment to make it happen"
Theo Walcott got injured, Alexis Sanchez was but a dream in the dim and distant, and the associated argument was that there was no one else to back Giroud up.
Now of course there is, because apart from the glory that is Alexis and the impending return of Walcott, we have Danny Welbeck.
Welbeck has done a fine job for the opening of his first season playing in the centre – and could play in the forward line in addition to or instead of one of the other three.
And indeed it was that goal on Saturday that made me think of this. For a while Arsenal’s forward line and shot, shot and shot again, without any reward. Giroud needed just a moment to make it happen.
Somehow he made it look so easy where others had hit brick walls. He found the position and bang. Goal.
And I don’t mean this as a way of knocking the others. Welbeck and Alexis had played in internationals, and Alexis had the added problem of playing on the other side of the world.
I have never been to Chile, but it appears that the trip from Alexis’ home in London to the training ground is about 26 hours including a bit of waiting time at the airport and a refuelling stop each way. The poor guy must have been knackered.
Anyway, the reception our Olivier got from the crowd was great, and the performance in the short time he was on was fabuloso. I am encouraged to repeat my claim of last season – his goalscoring record might well be something to surprise everyone.
Let us hope so.