Olivier Giroud – is he the man to lead Arsenal to the title?
Arsenal and Chelsea drew 0-0 in a cagey top of the table affair last night in the Premier League, with opportunities for either side few and far between.
The hosts did have a chance at the death to sneak all three points, with Olivier Giroud skewing his lines when put through one-on-one with Petr Cech.
The French forward has had to endure a fair amount of abuse as a result, with renowned Arsenal fan Piers Morgan slating the striker on Twitter in the aftermath of the game.
However, given Giroud’s performances this season, just how important is he to the north London side and can he play a significant role in the side’s push for honours?
The burly attacker had a slow start to life in England after a move from Montpellier last summer, but started this term in sensational goalscoring form.
Giroud netted critical goals against Fenerbahce and Napoli in the Champions League, and struck to give the Gunners victory over Tottenham in the north London derby.
However, with little-to-no faith in default back-up option Nicklas Bendtner, Giroud has been forced to lead the Arsenal line for the vast majority of the campaign, and as such it is starting to take its toll.
The striker has started 16 of Arsenal’s 17 games this season and been on the pitch for a total of 1391 Premier League minutes. Of the outfield contingent, only Aaron Ramsey has played more minutes for the Gunners this season.
As such, Giroud has certainly looked fatigued over the last month and it is fair to say that the enthusiasm and zest he had in the early days of the campaign is no longer immediately evident.
His ability to score has also suffered, with a brace against Southampton back in November the only goals in his last twelve games in all competitions for the title hopefuls.
However, despite the frantic fixture list over the festive season not helping Giroud to get respite, there are two reasons why his best form should return in the near future.
Firstly, Lukas Podolski was included amongst Arsenal’s substitutes for the clash with Chelsea after three months on the treatment table. The German will pose as a much more fitting player to deputise for the Frenchman and lead the line on occasion than Bendtner has.
Secondly, the January transfer window opens in little over a week, giving the north London club an opportunity to bring another centre forward to the Emirates Stadium to lighten the considerable load on Giroud’s shoulders.
Those slating Giroud should not be so quick to criticise as they could be forced to eat their words. The France international is not showing his best form at the moment, granted, but with less responsibility on his shoulders for the rest of the campaign he can only improve. His early season form shows that he is more than capable of excelling as Arsenal’s lone frontman.